Support for Students with Disabilities:
Unity provides two Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) sections per grade to best support students with Individualized Education Programs. General education teachers work closely with special education teachers to co-plan lessons, differentiate instruction, and evaluate student learning. In ICT classrooms, teachers utilize a variety of instructional formats to best meet the needs of all students. Both teachers in the ICT classroom participate in professional development and meet frequently to co-plan sessions, address student needs, and create fluid and flexible groupings. In general, the special education teacher are responsible for determining appropriate accommodations and modifications and ensuring compliance with all IEP mandates. Both teachers are responsible for developing specific learning goals and targets for each student with disabilities and tracking student progress towards those goals.
Support for English Language Learners:
Unity provides a form of sheltered instruction, the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP), to help English language learners master core content and develop English language proficiency. SIOP is a research-based framework of methods and practices for implementing high quality instruction for ELLs. Although designed for ELLs, many features of SIOP—clear enunciation, the use of visuals and demonstrations, scaffolded instruction, targeted vocabulary development, student-to-student interaction, and adaptation of materials—are consistent with best practices for students of all backgrounds and abilities. SIOP focuses on specific language objectives as a means of improving academic outcomes for ELL/LEP students. These language objectives are presented alongside content objectives for core content subjects. General education teachers from all grades and content areas share the responsibility for implementing language standards. Unity’s ELL Coordinator will provide push-in or integrated support services as well as targeted and differentiated supplemental instruction based on each student’s English proficiency. For students who require more intensive interventions, additional pull-out services are provided during the Skills-Building course.
Unity’s Response to Intervention (RTI) program serves to identify students not meeting grade level standards and ensure immediate and appropriate interventions for struggling students. Prior to the start of the year, staff members review the academic records of incoming students, as well as data from entrance diagnostic assessments to screen for students at risk of academic difficulties. Teachers use formative assessment practices to gauge student abilities, modify text levels, materials, and assignments, create flexible groups for small group instruction, and demonstrate other best practices for differentiating instruction. For students who struggle to make adequate academic progress at expected rates, general and special education teachers work to make grade-level content accessible (on both an individual and small group-basis) during the afternoon Skills-Building course. These intervention services focus on customized guided instruction that is based on students’ greatest needs. Students in need of additional supports also benefit from Homework Help and Saturday Academy tutoring as well as an Unity’s extended day, week, and year that provide approximately 30% more time on academic and co-curricular activities than the local district average.
Academic Supports, Tutoring, and Enrichment:
Through its extended day, week, and year, students have abundant access to and opportunities for academic support through the school day, including a daily Skills Building course that emphasizes individualized supports for students of all levels and abilities. In addition, all Unity students will have access to tutoring and academic support during daily Homework Help as well as Saturday Academy tutoring sessions. During these sessions, teaching assistants will work alongside Unity teachers to provide abundant remedial support and enrichment to students on a one-on-one or small group basis. Students may use this time to ask questions, complete assignments under a teacher’s supervision, or simply take advantage of a quiet space in which to read and study.