New Branches Charter Academy strives to meet the needs of each and every student we have on campus. Our Special Education staff is committed to excellence; working with students and providing the necessary resources for their success is our expertise. We pride ourselves on having smaller caseloads to provide a more individualized approach for academics as well as building meaningful relationships with our students.
The Special Education Department will utilize data to develop and implement student assistance processes, assessment practices, instructional strategies, programs, and services to ensure learning for students with special needs.
Special Education teachers utilize the Orton-Gillingham method to assess help struggling readers by explicitly teaching the connections between letters and sounds. The highly structured approach introduces the idea of breaking reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time. It also uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching reading, which is considered highly effective for teaching students with dyslexia. This means that instructors use sight, hearing, touch and movement to help students connect language with letters and words. For more information on the Orton -Gillingham method, visit www.ortonacademy.org.
Each local education agency and public school academy in Michigan is required to publicly post the process used to determine the existence of a Specific Learning Disability.
Consistent with this requirement, New Branches Charter Academy presents the following:
For determinations of a SLD, a Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses (PSW) is used for students in kindergarten through 12th grade across all areas including: Oral Expression, Listening Comprehension, Written Expression, Reading Comprehension, Reading Fluency, Math Calculation, and Math Problem Solving.
It is noted that regardless of the process used, all schools must follow all of the regulatory requirements in the IDEA, the MARSE, and Michigan laws, policies and procedures for special education.
What is a SLD?
A Specific Learning Disability is “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and development aphasia that adversely affects a student’s educational performance. A SLD does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; mental retardation; emotional disturbance; or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.” (34 CFR 300.8(c)(10)).
What is a PSW Process?
Pattern of Strengths and Weaknesses is a process that is used to determine if a student has a SLD. This process involves the collection of data to determine the following:
- The student does not achieve adequately for the student’s age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the areas identified at 34 CFR 300.309(a)(l)(i) when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the student’s age or State-approved grade-level standards.
- The student exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the Multi-disciplinary Evaluation Team (MET) to be relevant to the identification of a SLD, using appropriate assessments, consistent with the IDEA Evaluation Procedures and Additional Requirements for Evaluations and Reevaluations.
Michigan Department of Education Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services (2010)