The Ursuline Academy philosophy states:

 
"Each student has a right to an academic program which prepares her for life in a complex and changing world in a manner appropriate to her abilities, interests, and educational background."
 
This philosophy challenges us to accommodate the individual differences and unique learning styles presented by our students.  As a school dedicated to the uniqueness of each individual, we are committed to addressing these needs when it substantially limits a student's learning.

Role of the Learning Consultant:
 
The role of the Learning Consultant is to promote success for students with a diagnosed disability that significantly limits their academic progress or those suspected of a disability by: 
  • assisting in the identification of students in need of intervention using the Response to Intervention model and developing intervention plans incorporating research-based interventions.
  • coordinating efforts with outside agencies by guiding parents to obtain reliable evaluations and maximize student growth by collaborating with SNAP teachers, tutors, counselors, medical professionals, and parents.
  • reviewing diagnostic evaluations to develop an appropriate Personal Learning Plan for students.
  • assisting teachers with the implementation of differentiated instruction to aid students with diverse learning needs.
   
The Learning Consultant Program:
 
The goals of the program are to: 
  • develop the student's awareness of her individual learning strengths and challenges.
  • teach compensatory strategies to mitigate challenges.
  • foster the student's ability to become her own self-advocate.
  • provide appropriate accommodations for the student so she can access the curriculum effectively.
  • prepare the student for post-secondary education.
 
Acceptance into the program:
 
    Current Students:

There is a protocol in place to address students who display academic challenges. These steps must be followed in order for students to be considered eligible for the Learning Consultant Program and provided an accommodation plan.
  1. A concern is noted by the teacher, counselor, parent, or student.
  2. The concern is brought to the teachers' attention and they choose strategies to implement that address the student's challenges. Data is tracked to determine if growth has occurred. If the student is making progress, continue with the intervention. No other steps are needed at this time.
  3. If minimal or no progress has been made, the teacher will refer the student to the Response to Intervention (RTI) team. The team of teachers, counselor, and Learning Consultant will review past and current data, set goals for the student, and develop an action plan to meet the goals. The parents and student are consulted before and after the RTI meeting. Data is tracked to determine if student growth has occurred.
  4. If the student is making adequate progress, the intervention will continue until the student no longer needs extra support. No further steps are needed.
  5. If the student is not making adequate progress, the team will decide if an educational evaluation is needed in order to determine if a student has a disability that significantly impacts their educational progress. The parents will be contacted by the school counselor or Learning Consultant to recommend they purse and educational evaluation for their daughter.
Once the evaluation is completed, the following explains the rest of the process. This applies to both current and incoming students.

In order to receive accommodations for a specific learning disability, ADHD or any other psychological or neurological disability at Ursuline Academy, the following conditions must be met:
  • A current ISP or diagnostic evaluation less than 3 years old needs to be on file. The evaluation must include: the examiner's professional credentials; relevant educational, developmental and medical history; comprehensive testing (cognitive ability, academic achievement and appropriate supplemental tests); input from the school; a specific disability that substantially limits their ability to learn; and accommodations that are aligned with the nature of the disability.
  • The diagnosis must follow the criteria of the DSM-V manual which is one to two standard deviations between cognitive achievement and academic achievement. Essential features of a learning disability include "...persistent difficulties learning key-stone academic skills with onset during the years of formal schooling...(and) the individual's performance is well below average for age...or average achievement that is only sustainable by extraordinarily high levels of support." (DSM-V, 68-69).
  • Psychological and neurological disorders, including ADHD, qualify for accommodations if the "impairment results in limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli." (https://dese.mo.gov)
According to the U.S. Department of Education, "An impairment in and itself is not a disability. The impairment must substantially limit one or more major life activities in order to be considered a disability...Major life activities include...walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning...reading, concentrating, thinking, and communicating." (www2.ed.gov)

After being accepted into the program, a Personal Learning Plan will be developed by the Learning Consultant based on the documentation, current academic performance, standardized test scores, and teacher recommendations as well as the impact the disability has on the student's academic success. The accommodations recommended must match the disability, e.g. a student with a learning disability in reading would not justify the use of a calculator on a math test. The accommodations must also not compromise the college preparatory program.

In cases where the evaluation does not follow the above-stated criteria or the proper protocol was not followed, a team including the principal, counselor and Learning Consultant will review the data and determine if the student is eligible for a Personal Learning Plan.

Accommodations:

The purpose of accommodations is to "level the playing field" and to allow the student appropriate access to the curriculum without changing the learning goal. Accommodations can be made for assignments or assessments in the following categories: administration, setting, response, and timing/scheduling.

Each year the student's accommodations will be reviewed to determine: 
  1. Did the student access the accommodations?
  2. Did the student see value in the accommodations?
  3. Did the student benefit from the accommodations?
  4. Did the teachers see the student benefit from the accommodations?
The purpose of this review is to guide the development of the Personal Learning Plan for the following school year. The student's parents will be contacted if any changes are recommended.

Accommodations will not be granted solely for the purpose of applying for extended time on the ACT or College Board Tests.

Because Ursuline Academy is a college-preparatory school, curriculum modifications are not granted. Modifications change the learning and assessment expectations.