Riverview Elementary combines our specialized instructors (special education, english language learning, academic intervention) who support struggling learners into one team, known as Learning Support Specialists. In order to build effective grade level instructional teams, we align a particular Learning Support Specialist (LSS) with only one or two grades. The LSS than becomes a full member of the team, collaborating during the core instructional planning time with the role of informing differentiation of core instruction for the varied needs of struggling learners and developing supports (in class support, small group instruction) directly tied to classroom learning goals.
Practically, this means an LSS is working as part of a grade level team to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities, students for whom English is a second language and students who simply need additional time developing skills in foundational academic skills. Many of our LSS staff hold certificates in either Special Education or English Language Learning.
Philosophically, Riverview ascribes to the research based conclusion that early intervention is more effective than later intervention. As such, our primary grades are generally assigned more person power than our intermediate grades. The level of person power assigned to a grade level is also informed by the cumulative need levels of the students, such that a high need group will see more person power pointed their way. In all, each grade level has between .5 and .7 LSS FTE assigned. Additionally, Riverview utilizes paraprofessionals to support students with the most need; these staff are a key support and used to increase flexibility addressing the changing needs of students across grade levels.
Additionally, Riverview has developed an extended day ‘Learning Lab’, both in Math and English Language Arts which is staffed by certified teachers and supported with student mentors and volunteers. Identified students needing more time learning in math and/or literacy receive an additional 2 hours of instruction and directed practice; this can be up to 4 hours if support is needed in both academic areas. This is a grant and donation funded program provided at no cost to up to 40 students per year.