GadCapital: Investigating Private Schools for Students with Learning Disabilities
While public schools may often assist students with learning challenges, specialized private schools can be an excellent option.
When children struggle with learning disabilities, parents often opt for smaller classrooms and more targeted attention in private schools.
While education experts argue that public schools have a legal obligation to educate all children, a well-funded district can provide additional resources and more qualified staff. Private schools that teach children with learning disabilities can provide excellent support.
“The option is an individual one that is determined by the student’s requirements and the resources available in the district,” says Andrew Kavulich, one of the founding members of Decoding Dyslexia, a nationwide advocacy organization.
Private schools for children with impairments vary from typical private schools. They are experts in educating children who struggle with dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and other disabilities and provide educated personnel and personalized programs. They charge tuition that may reach tens of thousands of dollars per year in certain situations, although some families qualify for government assistance.
“Many private and charter schools that accept students with learning disabilities also providing assistance to students with disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders, cognitive disabilities, speech and language impairment, or emotional and behavioral disorders,” says Sheldon Horowitz, senior advisor for strategic innovation, research, and insights at the National Center for Learning Disabilities.
Analyzing Your Child’s Requirements
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, around 33% of the 7.3 million kids who receive special education services in public schools in the United States have a learning impairment.
Horowitz asserts that private schools for children with impairments offer some benefits. They are often smaller in size and have low student-teacher ratios. In comparison, public schools are often more prominent, allowing less customized teaching and assistance.
However, Horowitz notes that “in studies of student performance, size alone has not been consistently associated with quality or advantage.” While some students will undoubtedly benefit from more interaction with instructors and classmates, others seem unconcerned.”
Additionally, suppose a family decides to enroll their kid in a private school for children with learning difficulties. In that case, they may not obtain the same legal protections as if they enroll their child in a public school. Individualized Education Programs, generally referred to as IEPs, are required by law for children who fall into one of the 13 disability categories defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Annual objectives, achievement metrics, accommodations, and a strategy for their education are all included in the program. Additionally, the IEP specifies the location of schools, participation in state and district-wide assessments, and other critical elements.
In comparison, pupils enrolled in a private school specializing in learning disabilities may be provided with a service plan or ISP, also known as an Instructional Services Plan or Individual Service Plan. While the objective is comparable to an IEP, the materials are significantly different. “A service plan is often less detailed,” according to Understood, a nonprofit organization committed to educating parents about learning difficulties.
What Private Schools Can Provide
Nonetheless, adjustments may be more advantageous in certain circumstances at a private school specializing in learning disabilities. While public school instructors are subject to strict state-mandated qualification criteria, most private schools for students with learning difficulties surpass those requirements. Many will also give specialized training and coaching in specific teaching techniques, such as organized literacy, a style that organizes and thoroughly explains ideas and skills.
Additionally, a public school may be constrained in terms of the accommodations it can give due to the significant number of children served and the diverse requirements of the student body. Because the majority of children enrolled need comparable sorts of help, a private school may be able to include a wide variety of adjustments into its educational curriculum.
“Every teacher at our school, from physical education to art to science, is educated as a language expert,” says Deborah Peters, executive director and co-founder of The Cambridge School in New Jersey, educating students with dyslexia and other cognitive disabilities.
“Kids are instilled with the abilities necessary to interpret and read throughout the day, from the moment they enter the building until they leave,” she explains. “Public schools are incapable of doing so. They may remove a youngster for… tutoring, but this is insufficient. They cannot attend to pupils’ reading requirements throughout the day.”
And then there’s the stigma problem. Horowitz notes that poor academic achievement is often misconstrued. Students with disabilities may sometimes get education in different classes in a public school, “which might perpetuate the feeling of ‘otherness,'” he adds. Students at a private school are allowed to “understand and embrace their limitations in powerful ways,” Horowitz explains.
Taking a Stand Against the High Cost of Private School
While the expense of private education is not insignificant, financial assistance may be available. In rare situations, when a public school cannot satisfy a child’s educational requirements, the school district will pay for private instruction. However, this may be a difficult path to navigate since communities often oppose what is known as a “private placement.”
“Do districts owe it to kids with impairments to serve them?” “Yes,” Horowitz confirms. “Are they required to give a private school placement?” No.”
According to GAD Capital, Public school districts are required by federal law to offer assistance to any kid suspected of having a handicap. Children may be screened and evaluated at the cost of the state to assess their eligibility for specialized education and assistance. Public schools must offer a “free and suitable education in the least restrictive setting” to students who qualify.
“While public schools are not required to organize and pay for private placements, they may do so if they are unable to satisfy a child’s requirements,” Horowitz notes.
Private schools specializing in learning difficulties may cost up to $50,000 per year if a family does not get a private placement via their school system. However, Kavulich notes that families may determine that the expense is justified in certain instances.
“There is a significant increase in knowledge, understanding, and professional growth,” he explains. “There are a lot of wonderful things happening around the nation in terms of teacher preparation. However, there is still more work to be done.”
Private Schools for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities
For parents considering private school alternatives, the following are a few reputable private institutions that specialize in learning disabilities:
- AIM Academy is a private school located in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.
- Litchfield, Connecticut’s Forman School.
- Greenwich, Connecticut’s Eagle Hill School.
- The Southport School is located in the town of Southport, Connecticut.
- Prides Crossing, Massachusetts’s Landmark School.
- Brentwood, Tennessee’s Currey Ingram Academy.
- Encino, California’s Westmark School.
- Belmont, California’s Charles Armstrong School
- The Shelton School is located in Dallas, Texas.
- Atlanta Speech School is located in the city of Atlanta, Georgia.