Learning Support

The Philosophy

The Learning Support (LS) department at Yokohama International School (YIS) upholds the principles of a balanced education rooted in the firm belief of inclusion. Academic excellence is reflected in our philosophy of supporting and celebrating the diversity of learning needs within the school community. We endeavour to accommodate students with diverse learning needs to achieve their highest potential whilst celebrating their unique learning strengths and needs. 

Aim

We believe in a culture of inclusion at YIS, where we implement programs to cater to a variety of learners in our school. We support our students to access the curriculum based on their strengths and needs and endeavour to ensure the best student learning outcomes.

Objectives and Available Services

The objective of YIS is to be able to support students with learning needs effectively within the school program. The school caters to a range of learning needs, including learning disabilities, high functioning autism, mild sensory integration needs and speech and language disorders. Every new student’s needs are considered on an individual basis in order to determine if the school can meet those needs within the available resources. YIS is unable to support students with complex learning and/or physical disabilities, visual impairments or profound mental, emotional or cognitive disabilities. Access to Speech and Language, Occupational Therapy and other such specialized services is limited in and around Yokohama. This makes it imperative for the school to assess individual needs before admission to the program. 

Program Overview for Elementary, Middle and High School

The LS department works in collaboration with the counselors and the English as an Additional Language (EAL) teachers to support students in the areas of academics, behaviour and social and emotional development. LS services range from observations and consultation with staff and parents to a range of individualized and group instruction for students with various learning needs.

Our Learning Support Delivery model is inspired by the philosophy of the three-tiered system of the Response to Intervention model. Students are placed on one of the three levels of support ranging from Monitor (no direct services), to LS-1 (time-limited intervention services) and LS-2 (moderate intervention services) levels of support. 

Learning Support Level-1 (LS1)

This level of support is offered to a student who is working on the same instructional objectives and the same curriculum content as his/her peers but requires adaptations to the way the material is presented and/or to the way in which they demonstrate what they have learned.  Adaptations may include accommodations such as:

●      Change in amount and pace of the curriculum

●      Methods of presentation

●      Time limited intervention

●      Differentiated assessments

The student typically works in the regular classroom with their peers but may require time-limited support in specific areas by a learning support teacher and/or the student’s teacher(s) may require consultation with a learning support professional in order to adapt the curriculum and/or instructional practices to the needs of the student. The student with Level-1 learning support is assigned to a learning support teacher who acts as the case manager. Students will receive support as outlined in a Learning Support Plan 1 (LSP1) developed and implemented by the learning support case manager in consultation with the concerned teacher(s), parent(s) and any specialists, as required. The LSP is the YIS equivalent of an Individual Educational Plan (IEP). At times, based on student needs, the case manager may work on a consultation basis with the teacher(s) and parents, without the goals being outlined in an LSP.

Learning Support Level-2 (LS2)

This level of support is offered to students who require significant modifications to the content of the curriculum and/or instructional practices under the direction of a special education teacher. Such modifications are imperative to ensure that students can access the curriculum and are contained in a Learning Support Plan 2 (LSP2). The student with Level-2 learning support is assigned to a learning support teacher who acts as case manager. The LSP2 is developed and coordinated by the LS case manager in consultation with the concerned teacher(s), parent(s) and relevant specialists, if any. The LSP2 is the YIS equivalent of an Individual Educational Plan (IEP).

In judging the level of support required by the student, as well as the definition given above, the LSRT will consider the following. The student:

●      Has most likely been assessed and diagnosed with an exceptionality

●      Would qualify for learning support services in the U.S. and other major countries in the industrialized world

●      Needs individual attention and extensive support

●      Requires direct instruction and/or specialized instruction

●      Is not always able to follow regular/typical curriculum

●      Needs major modifications of standards and/or materials

●      Needs direct instruction in areas where typical students learn incidentally

●      Needs instruction in areas not typically covered in the regular program (E.g. Social skills training, interpersonal skills, life skills)

●      May require the services of specialists outside of school (OT, SLP, etc.)

●      May require specialized materials and/or equipment.

Monitor

Students on Monitor status do not receive learning support but are reviewed periodically by the Learning Support Referral Team (LSRT). The student does not currently meet the criteria for LS1 or LS2 support but there is data that suggests they may have an educational need that is not clearly evident at this time.  In addition, the student is a concern to their parent(s) and/or teacher(s). Educators, who know the student well, suspect that a learning difficulty may present as the student moves through the grade levels and the demands of educational tasks increase. The concerned teacher(s) may refer students on Monitor status for direct services, as the presenting issues become clearer.


Additional Services and External Assessments

Educational evaluations are available on a needs basis within the department. Where necessary, parents may be asked to obtain external educational assessments in order to identify, understand, and serve student needs more effectively.

External assessment refers to assessments conducted by personnel external to the school. Such assessment will be recommended by the LSRT and the costs will be borne by the parents. Recommendation for assessment by a specialist external to the school shall only be made once the school has completed a within school assessment of the student’s needs and the LSRT determines that further assessment is necessary. 

LSRT recommendations for external assessment might include one or more of the following types of assessment:

Psycho-Educational Assessment: is conducted by an educational/school/clinical psychologist and involves the administration of norm-referenced tests of ability and achievement.

Speech and Language: is conducted by an Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) and involves the assessment of communication including language, articulation, pragmatics, fluency and voice.

Occupational Therapy: is conducted by an Occupational Therapist (OT) and involves the assessment of fine and gross motor skills used in self-care and in school work and leisure activities. 

Physiotherapy Assessment: is conducted by a Physiotherapist (PT) and involves the assessment of gross motor skills, posture and mobility.

Psychiatric Assessment: is conducted by a psychiatrist, one who is preferably trained to work with children and adolescents and involves the assessment of emotional and mental health.

Developmental Assessment: is conducted by a pediatrician and involves the assessment of the student’s health and developmental level (relative to children of the same chronological age).

Comprehensive Assessment: is usually conducted within a children’s hospital or similar facility and involves assessment by a team of medical and educational professionals who are able to diagnose a wide range of less common childhood conditions.

Parents are responsible for following through on the recommendation for assessment, both internal and external and providing the school with the relevant reports and recommendations from the specialist/s. Continued enrolment at YIS is dependent on the parents’ agreement and fulfillment of these recommendations by the school.

A speech clinic is offered, in the morning, before school (for MS/HS students) and every afternoon after school, for students identified with a speech and/or fluency disorder. Students are referred by teachers or parents and the provision of services is based upon student numbers and availability of place.

Admissions Procedure

The goal of the school and the LS department is to support student needs. With this in mind, students flagged at admissions are informally or formally assessed to ensure the school can meet their needs. Parent interviews, trial days and diagnostic screenings and assessments are some of the other ways in helping us determine the level of support required and the possibility of meeting those needs. Parents may be requested to provide further diagnostic information to help clarify presenting needs.

 

Accommodations and Modifications Procedures

Elementary, middle and high school students on Learning Support Levels 1 and 2 are eligible for receiving accommodations at various stages of their learning in order to access the curriculum and achieve greater success. Modifications are provided only to students on Learning Support Level-2 and are reviewed each semester in line with the LS review cycle.  

What are accommodations?

Accommodations are changes to the way a student is expected to learn or how he/she is assessed. Goals for learning are not altered when accommodations are put in place. Both, LS1 and LS2 students are eligible to receive accommodations in their learning, assignments and assessments. Accommodations reflect, “leveling of the playing field” to ensure that students with learning needs can achieve the same goals as their peers with effective support along the way.

Procedure for accommodations for Elementary, Middle and High School students

Once a student is placed on Learning Support, the student’s case manager, in consultation with the concerned teacher(s) and parents, designs a Learning Support Plan (LSP). The accommodations required to support student learning are written into the LSP and agreed upon by all. A copy of the LSP is made available to the concerned teacher(s) and parents. One copy is also placed in the student’s LS file. Regular follow up between case managers and teachers ensure the effectiveness of the strategies and the impact on student learning and progress. The student’s progress is reviewed bi-annually as part of the learning support cycle.

Should accommodations have an impact on how assignments are graded?

School assignments and tests completed with accommodations should be graded in the same way as those completed without accommodations. Accommodations are meant to provide equal and ready access to the task at hand, and are not meant to provide an undue advantage to the user. 

Some examples of accommodations

1. Instructional methods and materials – copies of lesson notes, use visual aids along with verbal instructions, provide concrete materials to learn about math, use a calculator, etc.

2. Assignments and assessments  – use a word processor, use a scribe to support students, different area/room to do a test, time extensions, break longer assignments into parts, etc.

3. Learning environment – area away from distraction, different room to complete work, change grouping to suit needs, etc.

4. Special communication systems – text-to-speech software to help students read, use of a laptop/typewriter, etc.

5. Time demands and scheduling – time extensions, organizers to help keep up with deadlines and assignments, etc.
6. Extended time on assignments
7. Extended time on exams (a maximum of 50% more time, decided on an individual basis)

What are modifications?

Modifications are changes to what a student is expected to learn. These are primarily adaptations to the curriculum or course content, which may alter grade level expectation. Modifications help to reduce the overall cognitive demands of the task and enable students to produce greater quality of work within limited/altered curriculum goals. The Learning Support Team (LST) team, in consultation with the concerned teacher(s) decides on the appropriate curriculum modifications for a student with a learning need. Only students on the Learning Support Level-2 plan are eligible for modifications. A student’s grade in the modified subject will have “M” in front of the grade to reflect that the task and rubric were modified.

Modifications could reflect one or more of the following:

●      A reduction in content or concepts to be taught/learned

●      Altered assignments (e.g. reduction in the amount produced or concepts addressed)

●      Alternate assessments in conjunction with modified rubrics

●      Only in specific subjects or parts of subjects (e.g. Theory of Music only instead of Practical/Creative part)

Procedure to implement a modified program in the Elementary School

Once a student is placed on Learning Support Level-2, a Learning Support Plan (LSP) is designed with goals to be addressed. This plan is made by the case manager for that student, in consultation with the concerned teacher(s) and the parents. The modifications are written in the LSP and discussed with the parents. A copy of the LSP is made available to the concerned teacher(s) and parents. One copy is also placed in the student’s LS file. Once agreed upon, the changes are put in place within the classroom. The progress of the student is reviewed twice a year, as part of the bi-annual Learning Support (LS) review cycle. If the student continues on the LS-2 plan, the modifications are kept in place or altered to suit current needs.

Procedure to implement a modified program in the Middle and High Schools

1. Only students on the LS-2 plan are eligible for modifications.

2. The LSP designed by the case manager in consultation with the concerned teacher(s) and parents reflects the modified subject areas, alongside the accommodations and goals.

3. These altered goals and strategies are shared with the group of teachers who teach that particular student and any other required changes are made then.

4. This is followed by updates with the concerned teacher(s) to review progress and implementation of the strategies.

5. The strategies are also shared via Google Drive to ensure access to concerned teacher(s).

6. Modifications in a subject must be in place consistently for every assignment, task and assessment in that Semester to assess its impact on student learning and grades. The progress is reviewed bi-annually in conjunction with the LS review cycle to ensure the validity of altered assignments and grades. If the student progresses satisfactorily in that Semester, the modifications may be removed (in consultation with teachers and the learning support team) and parents. The concerned teacher(s) and parents are duly notified.

7. If a student receives modifications in any subject area, the grade for every assignment and assessment must be preceded with a “M” in front of it. This provides clarity in the grades achieved, even when they are high. For example, a “M 6” may not imply the student is achieving a higher grade: it may reflect a higher grade based on an altered assessment and rubric.

8. Students who are on a modified program in Grades 11 and 12 do not receive a full International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma but are eligible to receive a Yokohama International School (YIS) Diploma.

Some examples of modifications

1. Altering an assignment: so that a student is not doing the same level of work as others in the class. This may mean asking them to explain/learn two out of four concepts or expecting shorter answers as opposed to lengthy complex pieces of work.

2. Alternative projects: if your student is unable to complete a given project, let them do a part of it or something different but within the same concept/context.


Definitions
Learning Support (LS) – refers to the service provided to students identified as requiring additional support.

Learning Support Team (LST) – comprises members of the Learning Support Department at YIS.

Learning Support Resource Team (LSRT) – this is an advisory and decision-making body within the school. It comprises the Team Leader for Learning Support, Principal and Counselor from the relevant divisions. Others (such as an EAL teacher) may be invited at the discretion of the chair of the LSRT. The LSRT assists classroom teachers in dealing with a student’s educational difficulties by engaging in collaborative problem solving. The LSRT listens to referrals, determines caseloads and reviews progress of students receiving LS.

Learning Support Plan (LSP)  is a document developed by the case manager in collaboration with parents, teacher(s) and relevant specialists that outlines the student's goals to be addressed in the academic year. 


Updated October 2016