Student Support Services

Student Support Services includes a team of learning specialists, school counselors, and a consulting neuropsychologist. This team works with families and faculty to monitor the development of academic, social, emotional, and behavioral skills that lead to effective learning for all students.

MCDS recognizes that children have different learning styles and rates of growth and development. Student Support Services provides instruction to all students in areas such as literacy, learning and the brain, social thinking, communication skills, and strategies for organization and self-regulation. Student Support Services also provides reading, writing, and math specialists who assist in the classrooms.

When a child struggles or does not seem to be making progress in a particular area, Student Support Services collaborates with faculty and the child’s family to address concerns and facilitate progress. Student Support Services frequently consults and assists parents with referrals and options for students in and outside the classroom. Using a team approach and early intervention, Student Support Services helps all students remain engaged and enthusiastic learners.

Note: Current MCDS parents can find additional SSS resources here.

FAQ's

How will the school know if my child needs support?

When a child struggles or does not seem to be making progress in a particular area, Student Support Services works with the classroom teacher to identify and address concerns. School screenings, informal assessments, observations, and student work guide our interventions.

What happens when teachers or advisors have a concern about a student?

At each grade level, the team meets regularly to gather information and to design and implement a support plan. Teams consist of teachers/advisors, division head, counselors, and learning specialists. The school team and parents communicate regularly to monitor progress.

What happens when a parent has a concern?

We respect parents as key observers and advocates for their child. Parents are encouraged to contact the child’s teacher/advisor with any concerns. In addition, parents may contact the appropriate grade level learning specialist, counselor, and/or division head.

What services does Student Support Services provide?

Student Support Services provides whole group instruction to all students in areas such as learning and the brain, social thinking, communication skills, strategies for organization and self-regulation, and academic skills. In addition, all students are monitored through assessments and regular, grade-level team meetings that include teachers/advisors, division head, counselors, and learning specialists. When a student is identified as needing additional support, the team gathers information and develops an appropriate plan that may include the following services at no additional cost:

  • Small group instruction
  • Small group or individual counseling
  • Classroom accommodations, such as preferential seating, extended time, behavior modification plan, and other learning tools

If a child needs one-to-one instruction, we offer and coordinate on-campus support at an additional cost. In consultation with parents, student support services designs, coordinates, and monitors support plans that best meet student needs. One-to-one specialists work closely with the team to help students develop effective, efficient strategies for learning. In grades 6-8 we offer Transitions, an intensive program of one-to-one support during the school day for students identified with learning differences. This program focuses on the development of strategies to enable independence as a learner. The Transitions program is offered at an additional cost. The cost of one-to-one support is not included in tuition but is supported by MCDS at the same rate as the family’s indexed tuition.

Can MCDS service the needs of every child?

MCDS is committed to serving the needs of all its students. While we do our best to support students with mild to moderate challenges, the services we provide may not adequately support the needs of a particular student. When necessary, we refer families for outside intervention. In rare circumstances, after careful consideration and consultation with families and outside professionals, it may be in the best interest of the student to be placed in a more appropriate educational setting. MCDS provides information and support to help families find an alternate school.

What is the role of the school counselor?

The school counselor consults with faculty, staff, parents, division heads, and outside professionals to address students' social, emotional, and behavioral needs. The counselor meets with students one-to-one or in groups to address issues of concern. The counselor monitors student progress and maintains communication with parents, teachers, and other professionals. Parents or students may request counseling services. Parental consent is needed if a student wants to see a counselor on more than an occasional basis.

Who are the specialists who work one-to-one with students?

Specialists are highly trained in specific areas of education and/or programs designed to address the individual learning needs of students, including but not limited to speech, reading, writing, math, organization, attention, memory, and self-advocacy. Student Support Services staff carefully matches individual students with specialists whose experience and education best meet their specific learning needs. Specialists collaborate and work very closely with parents, student support services, and teachers. They are available to meet with your child during the school day, at a time that is mutually agreed upon with the teacher. They are also available to meet after school.

How does Student Support Services monitor and communicate about a child's progress?

Learning specialists, counselors, and specialists who work one-to-one with students are in frequent contact with classroom teachers, advisors, and division heads. In addition, they are available to parents in person or by phone or email; meetings may be scheduled as needed. Specialists who work with small groups or one-to-one provide feedback on student progress to classroom teachers/advisors at conference times.

How long does support last?

Counselors and learning specialists work with teachers and families to monitor any support put in place for a child and help make decisions about changes to that support. The duration of support depends on the progress and needs of the child, and the need for support can change over time. Some students require a short intervention, while others have more complex profiles and continue to benefit from additional support. The need for support will be reviewed on an on-going basis.

What kinds of academic assessments are administered at MCDS?

Throughout the school year teachers and/or members of student support services administer various screenings and assessments to all students to help determine academic readiness/achievement and to monitor student progress. The school will share results with parents when there is a concern.

In addition, the school routinely administers two standardized tests. Each February, we administer the Educational Records Bureau-Comprehensive Testing Program 4, ERB – CTP 4, to grades 3-7. In the spring of 7th grade and the fall of 8th grade, the Secondary School Admissions Test, SSAT, is administered. The computerized test results are emailed to parents.

What is the procedure for obtaining more formal evaluations?

When there are concerns that require more extensive and in depth evaluation than our observation and school screenings/assessments provide, we may recommend a formal evaluation. Professionals trained in a specific discipline administer these types of evaluations, which may include speech and language, occupational therapy, psycho-educational and neuropsychological batteries. Resources and contact numbers of evaluators are provided. MCDS encourages parents to share evaluation results with us so that we can provide and monitor effective support. The cost of these outside evaluations is not included in tuition, but is supported by MCDS at the same rate as the family’s indexed tuition. If the cost of a formal evaluation is a hardship, there may be funds available.

How many students receive individual support each year?

According to the International Dyslexia Association, 15-20% of school-aged children are diagnosed with a language-based learning disability. MCDS is committed to supporting students with a wide variety of needs, regardless of whether or not they have been diagnosed with a learning disability. Each year, approximately 20% of MCDS students receive some type of support during the academic year.