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Our new website is up and running!

NEALS is happy to announce launch of its new home on the web: http://www.nealsonline.org/

This blog site will continue to be a place for news items, commentary, and detailed meeting information. Our new site, however will be NEALS' "formal" online presence.


NEALS Announces New Board Members

Northeast Association of Learning Specialists
Executive Board

Rebecca Plona Peterson, President
Rebecca has been a member of NEALS since 2003, previously serving as Program Director. She is currently the Director of the Learning Center at Stoneleigh-Burnham School. Rebecca provides leadership and general oversight for NEALS, and can be reached at 413-774-2711 or rpeterson@sbschool.org

Gretchen Larkin, Program Director
Gretchen is a newcomer to NEALS, and brings great energy to her job as Program Director. A longtime special educator, she currently works as a reading specialist at Fay School. Gretchen supervises programming for members and takes the primary role in conference planning; she can be reached at glarkin@fayschool.org or 508-485-0100.

Marcia Ramunni, Secretary/Treasurer
Marcia is currently serving her second term on the Executive Board, having spent the previous two years sharing her substantial job with Marcia King of Hebron Academy. Marcia is a learning specialist at Salisbury School; her role on the Executive Board is to keep records of meetings and maintain the organization’s finances. Marcia’s e-mail address is mramunni@salisburyschool.org and her phone number is 860-435-5700.

Lee Hughes, Membership Director
Lee directs the Academic Skills Center at Gould Academy and has been a member of NEALS for several years. Her primary responsibility on the Executive Board is to maintain accurate accounting of members. Please contact Lee at lee.hughes@gouldacademy.org or 207-824-7700 with any questions about your membership status, or changes to your contact information or school affiliation.

Denise Elliott, Public Relations Director
Denise is also new to NEALS and the Executive Board; she joins us from Pike School where she serves as the Director of Learning Services. Denise spearheads communication with members and the larger independent school community; please contact her at delliott@pikeschool.org or 978-475-1197.

Kara Ashley, Director of Special Projects
Kara is one of the founding members of NEALS; she served as the organization’s first Program Director and has recently completed a two-year term as President. She directs the Learning Center at Fay School. Kara currently maintains our online community, located at www.learningspecialists.blogspot.com and continues to work on a comprehensive study of the role of learning specialists in independent schools. Kara can be contacted at kashley@fayschool.org or 508-485-0100.

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A letter from our President

Dear Colleagues,

I hope that this letter finds you well, that everyone has had a restful and relaxing summer, and that your school years are all off to a terrific start.

I am enormously excited to be starting my two-year term as the President of NEALS, inheriting a strong and vibrant organization from Kara Ashley of Fay School. Joining me on the executive board are five experienced professionals who bring to us a wealth of expertise from their years in primary, middle, and secondary schools; elsewhere in this mailing you’ll find a listing of board members, their roles, and their contact information.

This fall mailing will serve several purposes. First, we’ve included the fall membership renewal forms. NEALS memberships are individual and run for one academic year regardless of the date membership commenced; anyone who renews their membership this fall will be in good standing for the 2007-8 academic year. If you have a colleague or colleagues who would also like to join NEALS, please feel free to copy the enclosed membership forms and pass them along.

Membership fees for the 2007-8 academic year are $50 for full members, and $75 for adjunct members. A full member is any employee of an independent school who provides or oversees academic support services (learning specialist, academic dean, tutor, director of studies, etc). An adjunct member is an individual who works with students with learning disabilities outside of the independent school setting. Educational consultants, psychologists, independent reading specialists or other independent service providers would be examples of adjunct members.

Second, as our membership continues to grow, we’ve decided this year to begin an official directory of NEALS membership. Listing in the directory is strictly voluntary – if you’d prefer not to be listed, please indicate that on your membership form – and directories will only be available to NEALS members. This directory will allow increased communication between members outside of conferences, and we hope that this will help you to keep conversations with colleagues going in the months between meetings! To assist us in generating the directory for the fall conference, please return membership materials to Marcia Ramunni by October 20th.

Lastly, registration materials for our fall conference are included. On October 30th, we’ll be traveling to western Massachusetts to Northfield-Mount Hermon School for “How Do You Handle It?” My favorite part of any NEALS meeting is the chance to strategize with colleagues about best practices in serving our students; this fall, participants will be meeting in small groups to work with the profile of a sample student and to learn new techniques from one another. This format for our fall meeting should be a wonderful chance for us to spend time talking with and learning from our colleagues.

Best wishes to all, and we hope to see you at the end of the month!

Rebecca Plona Peterson
President, Northeast Association of Learning Specialists

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Please join us for our Spring Meeting!

Unpacking Assumptions
Working toward better understandings of and relationships with parents of learning disabled children in private school communities.
Presented by Katherine H. Scott, Ed.D
May 8, 2007
Lawrence Academy Groton, MA

Dr. Kate Scott has been working in the field of learning disabilities for twenty-five years. She has been a teacher, an educational therapist, a clinician, and a researcher. She has worked in schools, hospital clinics, and in private practice. Kate completed her doctorate in developmental psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education where the focus of her research was on better understanding how parents of learning disabled children make sense of their parenting experiences, and how these parents might be better supported within school communities. Currently, Kate has a private practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Schedule for the Day

8:30-9 Registration and Coffee

9-10 Discussion of NEALS Survey and 2007-2009 Executive Board Elections.

10-12 “Unpacking Assumptions--Part one 12-12:45

Affinity Lunch Meetings and Lunch group for New Professionsals, New Programs- follow-up with your colleagues and group from Fall Meeting as you reflect on your experiences this year.

12:45-1:45 “Unpacking Assumptions”--Part two 1:45-2:00 Closing Notes To register, please contact Amy Good at: agood@lacademy.edu. The cost for the day is $20 for Members or $50 (includes NEALS membership) for Non-members.

Registration is limited to 100 participants, so register soon!

Travel and lodging information is posted on the Spring Meeting Page

All attendees are asked to participate in the NEALS Learning Specialists survey by May 1st.

Click here to proceed to the survey

NEALS Launches National Research Study of Academic Support Programs and Learning Specialists in Independent Schools

For the past eight years, NEALS has been working to bring together professionals from a variety of backgrounds and schools by providing continuing education and networking opportunities. This fall, NEALS held it's first meeting for new professionals and new programs at the place where we had our very first gathering, Hotchkiss School.

As the NEALS network has grown, so has the need to gather information about our profession by investigating the many ways we administer services within the context of our school communities. I am writing to you today with the hope that you will join us in the largest study of learning specialists learning centers, and academic support programs to date.

All NEALS members and professionals in good standing at independent schools in the northeast are encouraged to contribute information. Please contact Kara Ashley (contact information below) if you would like to paricipate. The survey has been created so that all responses are anonymous. The first section of the survey is designed to tell us about your role within your school community. The second and third sections ask questions about the schools and programs in which we work. The final sections are dedicated to school culture and optional open response questions. The survey has been designed to be brief and most participants are able to complete the survey in ten to fifteen minutes. There is one question related to admission data that asks for the percentage of applicants who eventually enroll in your school that may require a quick call to your admissions office before participants begin.

On February 14th and 15th, friends of NEALS, were asked to participate in the first stage of data collection with preliminary findings to be presented at the spring meeting. An open forum on the survey is open on our main survey page (click here).

This survey is the product of countless hours of discussion with NEALS colleagues and the special efforts of the following individuals: Rebecca Peterson of Stoneleigh Burnham School, Amy Good of Lawrence Academy, Matthew Treat of Salisbury School, Sarah Ackley of Dana Hall School, Kim Kastler of Worcester Academy, Joanne Hayhurst of Hotchkiss School, Marcia Rammuni of Salisbury School, Laura Vantine of Noble and Greenough School, Marcia King of Hebron Academy, Gretchen Larkin of Fay School, and Barbara Kenefick of Berkshire School.

To participate in the survey now, please click here.

Kara Ashley
President, Northeast Association of Learning Specialists
Director, Fay School Learning Center, Fay Summer Institute

Please check our website for updates about the survey and the spring meeting.


NEALS launches program for new professionals and new programs

Through the efforts of NEALS board members Rebecca Peterson, Laura Vantine, and Kara Ashley, NEALS is launching a new professionals mentoring program which will begin at the fall meeting. In addition to giving new professionals a place to meet and commiserate with colleagues who are embarking on the same journey, participants will be linked in to a mentoring network. NEALS was born of a need to connect with our colleagues in peer schools to share information, practices, and support in a field that is emergent and varied. Today, a new group of learning specialists and program directors are coming together, insuring NEALS's legacy as a network that supports and nurtures learning specialists and their programs.

In addition to the new professionals program, the fall meeting will focus on issues of documentation and accommodation and tools for improving our programs every day.

New Programs, New Professionals (2 hours, morning session)
Are you a new learning specialist or working in a new academic support program? This group will allow you to connect with people “in the same boat” and receive support from people who have been where you are today. The format for this workshop will be shaped by you. Please send questions or topic requests to Kara Ashley at Fay School: kashley@fayschool.org.

Tools of the Trade (1 hour, afternoon session)
Do you have a new or tried and true system that has makes your program run smoothly? Do you have new software or other equipment that you want to share? This session, which is an extension of our spring meeting, will allow you to share your successful systems and tools with your colleagues (please bring copies and examples as you are able).

Confidentiality, Documentation, and Accommodation (1 hour, afternoon session)
This group will explore how we “get the word out” regarding our students’ individual needs while maintaining confidentiality. Please bring a template of your in-house learning plan and copies of formal written material (e.g. handbooks) that address your school’s policy on accommodation and documentation.

SPLASH! weekend at MIT

Splash! 2006 student registration opens Nov. 1 All students from 6th through 12th grade are invited to MIT on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 18-19, 2006 for a fun-filled weekend that can also be an unforgettable learning experience. Splash! invites students and other members of the MIT community to teach one-time classes and workshops on any subject that interests them. Past class subjects have included dancing and music, theoretical physics and math, computer science, robotics, hobbies, and many other creative concepts. The cost of the program is $20 regardless of how many classes you take; financial aid is available. Students can view a class catalog and pre-register on our web site, or simply show up for the program.
To find more information, visit the website:

NEALS Fall meeting will be held on October 24th

For information on the day's schedule and for directions and lodging information, please visit our Fall Meeting Page.

Leveling the Playing Field:
Creating Independent Learners with the Help of Assistive Technology
Christopher M. Lee, Ph.D.,

This “hands-on” workshop will introduce educators to a wide range of programs to help all students. Dr. Lee is a nationally renowned advocate, author, speaker and leader in the field of learning disabilities and adaptive technology. In 1992, he published Faking It: A Look into the Mind of a Creative Learner, and in 2001, What About Me? Strategies for Teaching Misunderstood Learners (Portsmouth NH: Heinemann, Boynton and Cook). These books draw on Christopher’s developmental experiences and his challenges attending the University of Georgia (UGA) to help teachers and parents optimize learning disabled students’ performance. Christopher has published a one of a kind on-line guide, Learning Disabilities and Technology, an Emerging Way to Touch the Future. He has published articles, chapters and several journals, and has been selected to chair many collaborative projects that relate to disability issues.

To learn more about Dr. Christopher Lee, please visit his main site: www.christophermlee.com and his home at the University of Georgia: UDL- Universal Design for Learning Solutions:www.amac.uga.edu

Joanne, Hayhurst, who has generously offered to host our meeting, has this to say about Christopher and his teaching:

I am thrilled that our Fall '06 NEALS meeting will feature workshops
with Christopher M. Lee, the nationally recognized, passionate,
knowledgeable proponent of assistive technology for all kinds of

I met Christopher in April at a Vassar College sponsored workshop
where I had gone, initially, to learn more about Kurzweil-type
software. Since a parent had generously offered to purchase such a
system for student use in our Study Center, I wanted to learn as much as
I could, so that the donation would be put to optimal use. Little did I
know how little I knew! He showed us how the variety of AT now
available could be useful for many more students than those with
diagnosed disabilities.

Inspired by the Vassar workshop, I have arranged for a year-long pilot
program using AT for a small group of Hotchkiss students. Christopher
has agreed to be our on-call consultant throughout the year. I feel
like we've really entered the 21st century.... the world of learning
access feels fresh again.

I truly hope everyone who can will come to Hotchkiss on Oct. 24th
to learn from the guru.... he's awesome!

Joanne Hayhurst
Director of Study Skills
The Hotchkiss School

Please contact Joanne Hayhurst (jhayhurs@hotchkiss.org ) to register!

Mars and Venus in the Classroom

By Richard Morin
Washington Post
Thursday, May 18, 2006; Page A02
First the good news: One year with a male English teacher would eliminate nearly a third of the gender gap in reading performance among 13-year-olds.
Now the bad: Having a male teacher improves the performance of boys while harming girls' reading skills. On the other hand, a year with a female teacher would close the gender gap in science achievement among 13-year-old girls by half and eliminate the smaller achievement gap in mathematics, says economist Thomas S. Dee of Swarthmore College, who examined data collected from more than 20,000 eighth-graders beginning in 1988.

In kindergarten, boys and girls do equally as well on tests of reading readiness, general knowledge and math. By third grade, boys have slightly higher math scores and slightly lower reading scores -- gaps that widen as the children grow older. The gender gaps for children age 9 to 13 approximately double in science and reading. And by the time they're 17, "the underperformance of . . . boys in reading is equivalent to 1.5 years of schooling, and though men continue to be over-represented in college level science and engineering, girls are now more likely to go to college and persist in earning a degree," Dee said in a recent working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research."

In kindergarten, boys and girls do equally as well on tests of reading readiness, general knowledge and math. By third grade, boys have slightly higher math scores and slightly lower reading scores -- gaps that widen as the children grow older.
The gender gaps for children age 9 to 13 approximately double in science and reading. And by the time they're 17, "the underperformance of . . . boys in reading is equivalent to 1.5 years of schooling, and though men continue to be over-represented in college level science and engineering, girls are now more likely to go to college and persist in earning a degree," Dee said in a recent working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
\nDee found that assigning boys to male teachers and girls to female instructors "significantly improves the achievement of both girls and boys as well as teacher perceptions of student performance and student engagement with the teacher's subject."

That's particularly bad news for boys, because more than eight in 10 sixth- and eighth-grade reading and English teachers are women, he reported.Dee found that assigning boys to male teachers and girls to female instructors "significantly improves the achievement of both girls and boys as well as teacher perceptions of student performance and student engagement with the teacher's subject."

To read more about this study, click here

Teachers learn dated reading methods

By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY

Most U.S. undergraduate teacher-education programs give prospective teachers a poor foundation in reading instruction, according to a new study by a Washington-based non-profit group that is working to reform the nation's teacher-education system.
The report, released on Monday by the National Council on Teacher Quality, looked at coursework and textbooks used at 72 leading colleges of education and found that most use what the council considers outdated, discredited approaches to teaching reading — especially for underprivileged children.
Read more here

Students use iPods for more than just music

By Sarah Barry / Daily Progress (Charlottesville, VA) staff writer
May 7, 2006

Justin Moore, a senior at Albemarle High School, can't figure out what went wrong during his chemistry experiment, but his results aren't what they should be.
His teacher, Erika Leer, asks if he remembered to add water to his solutions. Moore's look changes to one of dawning realization. He has to start again.
But rather than Leer having to go over the steps a second time, Moore uses an iPod to rewind a recorded demonstration of Leer doing the experiment and reading the instructions, leaving her free to move between the other groups and check on their progress.
"It makes my job easier," Leer said. "People can go at their own pace."

Read more

UK teachers question benefits of "inclusion"

The National Union of Teachers dramatically reversed decades of support for "inclusion" and demanded a halt to the closure of special schools. It called on the Government to carry out "an urgent review of inclusion in policy and practice".
View entire Times of London article here.


Computers, cell phones, video games, blogs, text messages -- how will the sheer amount of time spent plugged in affect our kids?
San Francisco Chronicle
Katherine Seligman
Sunday, May 14, 2006
As parents become increasingly concerned, some scientists and psychologists are sounding alerts about the effects of so much wired time, much of it spent multitasking. Aside from the more visible consequences of so much screen time -- lots of children who don't get enough exercise and higher obesity rates -- they believe there may be troubling developmental, learning and social ramifications.

Meanwhile, skeptics say all this concern is part of a historical pattern, one generation that looks on the next as being corrupted by something new. Didn't it happen with radio, rock 'n' roll, comic books and television? Is it possible that the Baby Boomers -- who've turned the microscope on every aspect of their children's lives -- are just doing what their parents did now that their kids are teens? It's not an easy question to answer.

View full text of article here

Check your mailbox, mark your calendar, bring a friend

The Spring Meeting flyer is on its way to a mailbox near you. I am both astounded and humbled by the response we've gotten from all of you! This day is all about sharing what it is we all do so well and so many different ways on campuses around the northeast.

We are looking forward to a healthy turnout, but we need your help ( yes, you.. and you back there, and you with those earrings, and you, and you and you, over there, in the white shirt) to spread the word at your schools. This program has something for everyone from classroom teachers to department heads, to admissions staff, and school counselors.

Click the Spring Meeting link for the complete list of programs, directions, and lodging information.

See you May 8th!

Important issue for discussion in the Members' Forum

Dear Colleagues,
Aside from the snow we had yesterday, I'm happy to see the spring finally apprears to be upon us. Your friends on the NEALS Executive Board have been busy putting the finishing touches on the Spring Meeting at Fay School (see the Spring Meeting link for up-to-date information).

An excerpt from a letter we received recently from Priscilla Wolf at Indian Mountain School is pasted below. I have given it time on the "Main Page" because I feel that her letter warrants some serious thought and discussion. Full text of the letter as well as a space to leave your own thoughts, or jump into the discussion is on the Members' Forum page. I hope you will take a moment to read what Priscilla has to say.

"...More and more I get questioned as to why kids have to be tested BEFORE they get tutoring support. In reality we don't have to do anything that the public schools have to do, but I think t's important to know that these changes in philosophy are out there and the questions for us and our policy may increase. We have the testing stipulation in place for several reasons: it enables us to say No to the family who just wants to push a kid who is getting the grades which are appropriate for his/her ability (and there is no learning difference), and hopefully it gives us a greater understanding of what works best for the student. The problem is we aren't always consistent , and I have had to say No (and Yes) to some families whose kids should be in tutoring but don't have the testing. Some families simply do not have the funds for the private testing and our school districts to date require failure before they will do the testing for free. .."

I look forward to seeing you on May 8th.
be well,
Kara Ashley

Research shows why a teen brain incapable of reasoning like an adult's

Teens driven to distraction
By Ronald Kotulak, Chicago Tribune science reporter
Published March 24, 2006
By the time puberty is over in the middle to late teens, when adult height and full reproductive capacity have been achieved, the body is at its peak--the strongest, swiftest and healthiest it will ever be. But the brain lags behind, laboring to adapt to the most complex society that has existed. This mismatch--between a fully grown body and an immature brain that is trying to cope with emotions, sexual urges, poor judgment, thrill seeking and risk taking--is a key factor making motor vehicle accidents the No. 1 cause of death among adolescents and young adults, followed by murder and suicide.

Using powerful new imaging technology to look inside the brain, scientists are beginning to unravel the biology behind this critical period of development. They are finding that an adolescent's brain undergoes a previously unsuspected biological makeover--a massive growth of synaptic connections between brain cells.This spectacular surge kicks off an extensive renovation of the brain that is not complete until the mid-20s. Scientists say the resulting learning curve, when teens struggle to shed childish thoughts for adult ones, is why adolescence is such a prolonged and perilous journey for so many.It helps explain not only why teens are more prone to crash a car than at any other time of life, but why they are more likely to engage in risky sex, drug abuse or delinquency. Although teens often can think as logically as an adult, the process can be easily derailed by flaring emotions or other distractions."The reason that kids take chances when they drive is not because they're ignorant," said Temple University psychologist Laurence Steinberg. "It's because other things undermine their better judgment."

The synaptic growth spurt that occurs in puberty is similar to the ones that occur after birth, when the brain first begins to learn. The early exposure to the outside world enables the brain to connect to the body, developing its capacity for processing sound, sight, smell, touch and taste, and to make sense of them.Learning occurs only after excess synapses not stimulated by experience are eliminated, much like the pieces of marble that have to be chipped away to create a work of art.

Now scientists have found that a second wave of growth and pruning occurs in adolescence. Synapses that are not incorporated into neural networks for memory, decision-making and emotional control are eliminated to make way for a leaner, more efficient brain.This late blossoming of synapses, it is thought, provides the brain with a new capacity for learning and allows the brain to make the transition from childhood to adulthood.

read full text of article by clicking this link

Scans Show Different Growth for Intelligent Brains

March 30, 2006
New York Times

The brains of highly intelligent children develop in a different pattern from those with more average abilities, researchers have found after analyzing a series of imaging scans collected over 17 years.
The discovery, some experts expect, will help scientists understand intelligence in terms of the genes that foster it and the childhood experiences that can promote it.
"This is the first time that anyone has shown that the brain grows differently in extremely intelligent children," said Paul M. Thompson, a brain-imaging expert at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The finding is based on 307 children in Bethesda, Md., an affluent suburb of Washington. Starting in 1989, they were given regular brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging, a project initiated by Dr. Judith Rapoport of the National Institute of Mental Health.
This set of scans has been analyzed by Philip Shaw, Dr. Jay Giedd and others at the institute and at McGill University in Montreal. They looked at changes in the thickness of the cerebral cortex, the thin sheet of neurons that clads the outer surface of the brain and is the seat of many higher mental processes.
The general pattern of maturation, they report in Nature today, is that the cortex grows thicker as the child ages and then thins out. The cause of the changes is unknown, because the imaging process cannot see down to the level of individual neurons.
But basically the brain seems to be rewiring itself as it matures, with the thinning of the cortex reflecting a pruning of redundant connections.
The analysis was started to check out a finding by Dr. Thompson: that parts of the frontal lobe of the cortex are larger in people with high I.Q.'s. Looking at highly intelligent 7-year-olds, the researchers said they were surprised to find that the cortex was thinner than in a comparison group of children of average intelligence.
It was only in following the scans as the children grew older that the dynamism of the developing brain became evident. The researchers found that average children (I.Q. scores 83 to 108) reached a peak of cortical thickness at age 7 or 8. Highly intelligent children (121 to 149 in I.Q.) reached a peak thickness much later, at 13, followed by a more dynamic pruning process.
One interpretation, Dr. Rapoport said, is that the brains of highly intelligent children are more plastic or changeable, swinging through a higher trajectory of cortical thickening and thinning than occurs in average children. The scans show the "sculpturing or fine tuning of parts of the cortex which support higher level thought, and maybe this is happening more efficiently in the most intelligent children," Dr. Shaw said.
complete text of article is available here.

Most teens lacking enough shut-eye

The Associated Press

National Sleep Foundation
National Center on Sleep Disorders Research
Archive Book Review: A sleepy kid is a cranky kid
WASHINGTON — America is raising a nation of sleep-deprived kids, with only 20 percent getting the recommended nine hours of shut-eye on school nights and more than one in four reporting dozing off in class.
Many are arriving late to school because of oversleeping and others are driving drowsy, according to a poll released today by the National Sleep Foundation.
"In the competition between the natural tendency to stay up late and early school start times, a teen's sleep is what loses out," said Jodi Mindell, associate director of the Sleep Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Nearly all the youngsters — 97 percent — had at least one electronic device in their bedroom. These include televisions, computers, phones or music devices. Adolescents with four or more such devices in their bedrooms are much more likely than their peers to get insufficient sleep, the foundation reported.
"Those with four or more electronic devices in their bedroom were twice as likely to fall asleep in school," Mindell said.
"Sending students to school without enough sleep is like sending them to school without breakfast. Sleep serves not only a restorative function for adolescents' bodies and brains, but it is also a key time when they process what they've learned during the day," she said.
full text of this article is available here

More universities are going SAT-optional

Updated 4/4/2006 9:47 PM
By John Bell, Daily Record via AP
By Laura Bruno, USA TODAY

..."Whether they get 1300 or 1250 doesn't really tell you anything about them as a person or a student," says Ken Himmelman, Bennington dean of admissions. All the attention to numbers "becomes so crazy it's almost a distraction." The addition of these schools represents a growth spurt in the test-optional movement; now, 24 of the top 100 liberal arts colleges, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, are SAT- and ACT-optional. In total, 730 U.S. colleges don't require SAT or ACT scores, but many are technical or religious schools or those with open admissions policies. For some colleges changing policies, the turning point came when the College Board introduced the new 3-hour, 45-minute SAT with an added essay section. The colleges were troubled by the hysteria among students and also by aggressive marketing of test-prep companies capitalizing on the students' worries about the essay."What this represents is a dissatisfaction or worse with the changes in the SAT," says Robert Schaeffer, spokesman for FairTest, a non-profit organization that says tests are overused. It may be too early to know whether the recent string of scoring errors on the SAT, which affected more than 4,400 students, will lead to more schools opting out, but Schaeffer says he is "getting lots of calls from colleges" that want more information on how such a change might affect enrollments.
full text of this article can be accessed here

Liberal arts colleges that have made the SAT and ACT optional include 12 that rank among the top 50 as rated by U.S. News & World Report:
Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine 6

Middlebury (Vt.) College 8

Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y. 15

Bates College, Lewiston, Maine 21

Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass. 23

College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass. 32

Connecticut College, New London, Conn. 36
Union College, Schenectady, N.Y.

Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y. 39
Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, Pa.

Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pa. 45

Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, N.Y. 49

Source: FairTest

SAT Errors Raise New Qualms About Testing

New York Times, March 10

Philip Benoit, a spokesman for Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., said yesterday that at least one applicant whose SAT score was revised upward by more than 100 points, now qualified for the school's merit-based Marshall Scholarship of $12,500.

The SAT errors, which the College Board started to investigate only after two students questioned the scores they received in late December, were not unprecedented.

The scoring errors disclosed this week on thousands of the College Board's SAT tests were made by a company that is one of the largest players in the exploding standardized testing business, handling millions of tests each year.
The mistakes, which the company, Pearson Educational Measurement, acknowledged yesterday, raised fresh questions about the reliability of the kinds of high-stakes tests that increasingly dominate education at all levels. Neither Pearson, which handles state testing across the country, nor the College Board detected the scoring problems until two students came forward with complaints.
"The story here is not that they made a mistake in the scanning and scoring but that they seem to have no fail-safe to alert them directly and immediately of a mistake," said Marilee Jones, dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "To depend on test-takers who challenge the scores to learn about system failure is not good."
These were not the first major scoring problems that Pearson has experienced. The company agreed in 2002 to settle a large lawsuit over errors in scoring 8,000 tests in Minnesota that prevented several hundred high school seniors from graduating. It also has made significant scoring errors in Washington and Virginia.
After those problems, company officials had assured clients that they had vastly improved their quality control. But the new problems on the October SAT turned out to be the most significant scoring errors that the College Board had experienced.
Full text of article here.

Colleges scramble amid SAT glitch

''Unless you spend a lot of time in a high school, you can't appreciate how crazed students can get about this stuff," Kelly said. ''To learn very, very late in the game that there might be an error is just going to exacerbate that."

Error lowers test scores of 4,000 hopefuls
By Marcella Bombardieri and Tracy Jan,

Globe Staff March 9, 2006
College admissions officers in Massachusetts and elsewhere yesterday scrambled to deal with the applications of thousands of students whose SAT scores were too low because of a technical glitch, one of the biggest mistakes ever made on the high-stakes exam.
Many universities, including the most selective schools, do not finalize admissions decisions until the end of the month, but are well along in the process. Officials at some schools, including the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, said they had already mailed out some acceptances and rejections. They will reexamine the applications of students who were affected by the College Board's mistake to see if the outcome would have been different.
Another worry, high school counselors say, is that students might have given up on applying to certain highly competitive schools because of the faulty scores, and now they have missed the deadline to apply.
Officials at The College Board, which administers the test, said technical glitches led to errors in roughly 4,000 students' October 2005 tests, resulting in some students not getting credit for some of their correct answers. The company, which is still investigating what happened, relies on computers at a facility in Austin, Texas, to scan students' answers from test sheets. The errors were reported yesterday in The New York Times.
read the comeplete article here.

Study: Reading key to college success

"In the United States, reading is largely treated as an elementary school subject, with diminishing focus in later grades. But with each alarming report on college readiness, adolescent literacy is gaining attention."

By Ben Feller, AP Education Writer March 1, 2006
WASHINGTON --The ability to handle complex reading is the major factor separating high school students who are ready for college reading from those who are not, according to a new report.
The study by ACT, a nonprofit company that tests students, found that most states contribute to the lack of college preparedness by not requiring complex reading comprehension in high school. In fact, ACT found that most states don't have any standards at all for high school reading achievement.
"If you're not asking for it, you're not going to get it," said Cynthia Schmeiser, senior vice president for research and development at ACT, formerly known as American College Testing.
In complex reading passages, organization may be elaborate, messages may be implicit, interactions among ideas or characters may be subtle and the vocabulary is demanding and intricate.
The ACT isolated reading complexity as a critical factor by analyzing the results of the 1.2 million high school seniors in 2005 who took the well-known ACT college entrance test. Based on that test, only 51 percent of students showed they were ready to handle the reading requirements of a typical first-year college course.
The literacy of today's high school graduates has become an enormous concern for colleges and employers.

full text of article available here.

It's official: class matters

A major new study shows that social background determines pupils' success. Does it mean that the government is heading in the wrong direction?
Matthew Taylor reports Tuesday February 28, 2006The Guardian
It is a familiar scene: mum and dad hunched at the kitchen table, poring over Ofsted reports and brochures, trying to fathom which is the best school for their child. But a new report, obtained by Education Guardian, suggests that these well-meaning parents, and thousands like them, are looking in the wrong place. Instead of trying to decode inspectors' reports or work out whether academies are better than voluntary-aided schools or trusts superior to community comprehensives, they need look no further than the average earnings among parents.
A study by academics at University College London (UCL) and Kings College London has given statistical backbone to the view that the overwhelming factor in how well children do is not what type of school they attend- but social class. It appears to show what has often been said but never proved: that the current league tables measure not the best, but the most middle-class schools; and that even the government's "value-added" tables fail to take account of the most crucial factor in educational outcomes - a pupil's address.
The report, which uses previously unreleased information from the Department for Education and Skills, matches almost 1 million pupils with their individual postcode and exam scores at 11 and 15.
This unprecedented project has revealed that a child's social background is the crucial factor in academic performance, and that a school's success is based not on its teachers, the way it is run, or what type of school it is, but, overwhelmingly, on the class background of its pupils.
"These are very important findings, which should change the way parents, pupils and politicians think about schools," says Richard Webber, professor at UCL. "This is the first time we have been able to measure the precise impact of a child's social background on their educational performance, as well as the importance of a school's intake on its standing in the league tables."
full text can be accessed here.

Counselors' Challenges Growing, but Ranks Aren't

Many counselors say they are facing new, and often more difficult, problems with students than in the past, said Barbara Blackburn, president of the American School Counselor Association. For example, she said, far more students are engaging in such behaviors cutting, choking or burning themselves.

But with the added pressure -- and despite numerous studies showing how successful counseling programs can improve a student's academic and emotional life -- there aren't anywhere near enough counselors for the country's school-age population.

read the entire Washington Post article here.

Looking for Answers: The Use of “Gaze-Away” Strategies by Young Children

The following are highlights of an ASCD brief. To read the brief, visit this page.

The Study
Phelps, F. G., Doherty-Sneddon, G., & Warnock, H. (in press). Helping children think: Gaze aversion and teaching. British Journal of Developmental Psychology.

The Question
Does teaching young children to “gaze away” during cognitive challenges improve their performance?

The Context
Researchers have found that when adults are attempting to answer a challenging question they frequently look away from distractions, which may include the person asking the question or even inanimate objects, such as video cameras and computer screens. Experimental research indicates that individuals who gaze away also tend to answer moderately difficult questions more accurately than they do when asked to remain visually engaged with the questioner. Although adults and older children have developed gazing away as a cognitive strategy, younger children engage in the behavior much less. Indeed, in some interactions, educators and adults interpret gaze aversion as a sign that the child does not know the answer, and they may intervene before the student has had sufficient time to process and answer the question.

The Bottom Line
Young students may benefit from being taught to gaze away from distractions as they attempt to answer questions. Educators should be aware of gazing away as a cognitive processing strategy.

Paid college consultants help kids get in

By Juan-Carlos Rodriguez, Associated Press Writer
March 1, 2006
WASHINGTON --As high school seniors across the country wait anxiously for the responses to their college applications, some can take comfort in knowing they sent out the best money can buy.
Their parents paid hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of dollars to private consultants who help the students draft admissions essays, rehearse for interviews, prepare for tests and even pick after-school activities in the hopes of bettering their chance of admission.
Andrea DuBrow, 54, of New York City, wanted to give her daughter every edge when she applied to Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. So instead of relying on the advice of the guidance counselors at her daughter's private boarding school, she hired a consultant.
"There's just so much pressure now and so many good applicants," said DuBrow, a vice president for a women's accessory company. "We felt our daughter could benefit from some extra help."
The consultants charge for work traditionally provided free by high school counselors, but with rates averaging $120 an hour to $2,900 for two years of consultation, it is a luxury. One exclusive two-year consulting program rings up at nearly $40,000.
read the full artcile here.

As AP Expands, Studies Disagree on Its Value

Some Parents and Teens, Feeling Pressure to Choose Difficult Courses, Look for Middle Ground
By Jay Mathews
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Angie Palma, a student at West Potomac High School, was stunned to discover last spring that the honors U.S. history course she hoped to take her junior year would no longer be offered.
For many years, honors courses have been an attractive compromise for American high-schoolers. They have sampled the choices like Goldilocks: Regular courses? Too easy. Advanced Placement courses? Too hard. But honors courses were just right.

Of course, that was before Advanced Placement and the smaller-but-similar college-level International Baccalaureate began a period of rapid growth that changed school curriculums across the country. More than a million high school students took AP tests in May, double the number who took them 10 years ago. And the Bush administration has proposed funds for training 70,000 new AP science and math teachers.

Now, a series of competing, sometimes contradictory studies have begun to look at the effectiveness of AP and IB in meeting their central purpose -- preparing students such as Palma for college. Some parents and students are questioning whether the college-level courses are placing too much strain on children and supplanting useful honors courses. And the College Board, which sponsors the AP program, has begun to ask schools to examine the content of their AP courses to make sure they meet the program's standards.
Palma is taking AP psychology but decided on the regular history course, calling the AP class "beyond my capabilities." Choices such as hers are part of a debate over AP that shows no signs of abating as the program undergoes growing pains
continue reading here.

Too Inconvenient And Too CostlyPrivate schools have been complaining about the growing influence of Advanced Placement and its effect on their programs. Joan Goodman, a school administrator and AP coordinator at The New School of Northern Virginia, was asked to give her opinion on the new AP course audit

Millions have misused ADHD stimulant drugs, study says

By Shankar Vedantam
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — More than 7 million Americans are estimated to have misused stimulant drugs meant to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and substantial numbers of teen-agers and young adults appear to show signs of addiction, according to a comprehensive national analysis tracking such abuse.
The statistics are striking because many young people recreationally using these drugs are seeking to boost academic and professional performance, doctors say.
Although the drugs may allow people to stay awake longer and finish work faster, scientists who published a new study concluded that about 1.6 million teen-agers and young adults had misused these stimulants during a 12-month period and that 75,000 showed signs of addiction.
The study published online this month in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence culled data from a 2002 national survey of about 67,000 households.
The data paint a concrete and sobering picture of what many experts have worried about for years, and present ethical and medical challenges for a country where mental performance is highly valued and where the number of prescriptions for these drugs has doubled every five years, said Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
"We live in a highly competitive society, and you want to get the top grades and you know your colleagues are taking stimulants and you feel pressured," she said. "Yes, you are going to study better in the middle of the night if you take one of these medications. The problem is a certain percentage of people become addicted to them, and some have toxic effects."
Volkow said it was impossible to disentangle the skyrocketing prescriptions of drugs for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder from the risks of diversion and abuse.
"As a child, you have multiple friends who are being treated with stimulant medications," she said. "You get the sense that these are good."
Studies have shown that the drugs are highly effective, especially among children, and also that they reduce the risk of substance abuse among those correctly diagnosed with the psychiatric disorder, which is characterized by inattention and unruly behavior. Untreated ADHD has also been associated with conduct and academic problems.
At the same time, there have been growing concerns that the drugs are over-prescribed. A Food and Drug Administration panel earlier this month warned that the medications carried risks of rare, but serious, cardiovascular problems, and it recommended that the agency place serious "black box" warnings on the drugs, as a way to restrain spiraling prescriptions.
Lawrence Diller, a pediatrician in Walnut Creek, Calif., who prescribes the drugs but is worried about their overuse, said that the new study showed the real health concerns are with diversion and abuse, not with rare side effects. "Seventy-five thousand addicts to prescription stimulants is much more troublesome than the 100 to 200 adults who have strokes," he said. "Houston, we have got a problem because we are just in the middle of this epidemic."
The study found that men and women were equally likely to be misusing the drugs, but that women seemed to be at greater risk of dependence — characterized by a lack of control, physical need and growing tolerance for the drug — while men seemed to be at greater risk of abuse, in which the medication was used in dangerous situations, said lead author Larry Kroutil, who studies health behavior and education at RTI International, a nonprofit research group.
To obtain their findings, Kroutil and a team of researchers culled data from a 2002 national survey conducted by the federal government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). H. Westley Clark, director of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, said the 2002 data were obtained through face-to-face interviews. RTI has not yet culled data from subsequent years regarding the misuse of ADHD drugs.
Since then, prescription rates and the popularity of various drugs have changed, and Kroutil said continuing research is needed to track the phenomenon. Clark noted that data from 2003 suggested that the problem of stimulant misuse was greater among young adults 18 to 25 years old than among teen-agers.
The RTI study was paid for by Eli Lilly and Co., which makes the non-stimulant ADHD drug Strattera. Although non-stimulant treatments such as Strattera were an option for ADHD patients, they were often not as potent as stimulant drugs, Volkow said.
Both Volkow and Scott Kollins, who heads Duke University's ADHD program, said the full range of ADHD drugs is a valuable tool. But Kollins said the study brought home what he has seen anecdotally: A colleague who visited his college-age son's fraternity was mobbed by requests for Adderall prescriptions by youngsters seeking to boost academic performance.
"If I took Ritalin, I would probably stay up longer and write my grants faster," Kollins said. But besides the fact that he did not think this is right, Kollins said the rare side effects highlighted by the FDA panel meant people using the drugs for nonmedical purposes were placing themselves at risk for those adverse events.
Volkow was more blunt: "You are playing roulette," she said. "If you get addicted, you will not only not get into Harvard, you will not finish high school."
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

Parkinson's profile suggested: hard workers, straight arrows

By Carey Goldberg, Globe Staff February 25, 2006
They tend not to smoke, drink, or seek thrills. They work hard. They show up on time, keep their homes neat, and follow complex medical instructions to the letter.
Doctors have noticed for decades that their Parkinson's disease patients often seem to share certain personality traits.
Now, a growing body of research, including surveys of Parkinson's patients and laboratory studies in mice, suggests that the disease, which afflicts more than a half-million Americans and has no cure, really does tend to strike straight arrows.
The apparent link between Parkinson's and a certain personality raises the question of whether the disease begins years or even decades before the onset of symptoms such as tremors, slowness of movement, and rigidity. That possibility, a topic under discussion at this week's World Parkinson Congress in Washington, has gained currency, raising the prospect that if the disease can be detected earlier, perhaps someday it can be prevented.
If there is a Parkinson's type, it also implies that people with a shortfall of the brain chemical dopamine early in life may have certain personality characteristics, such as risk aversion. Those same people, as they age, may develop Parkinson's. So, complex traits that seem like integral parts of a person's identity might actually stem from the early effects of their disease.
''To my mind, this is the best example of a personality trait that has been associated with changes in a specific brain chemical," said Dr. Matthew Menza, a leading specialist on Parkinson's and personality. It is also, he said, ''the classic case of 'when bad things happen to good people.' "
Though no one has followed people for decades to see whether those with a ''Parkinson's personality" are more likely to develop Parkinson's, Menza says the ''weight of the evidence" supports the idea of a link. His list of traits associated with the disease include industriousness, punctuality, orderliness, inflexibility, cautiousness, and lack of novelty-seeking." Other doctors mention drive, ambition, altruism, cleanliness, and a tendency toward obsession with details.
read the complete article here.

Did we strike a nerve?

You may have noticed that the amount of "fresh" content on this site has increased. We plan to post several articles of interest to our profession on the site per week and hope you will check the site often. If you read an article that compels you to speak, share, or rant, we have given you all a place to do this.

A few of you have wondered why we chose this format for our website. It's in blog format, after all. It doesn't seem like a natural choice for a professional organization... or does it?

The reason I like this format so much is that it enables everyone to comment on what's been posted- that's why we call this our "online community." There is a "comment" link under every post on the site.

Posting a comment is easy. Once you've clicked on the comment link at the bottom of a post, window will pop up. In the window, there is a space to "leave your comment" you can write whatever you'd like in the comment box (comments will be screened) . Under "choose an identity", click "other", enter your name, and you're good to go. The word verification box is there to secure our comments and prevent spam. Don't let it discourage you.

If you read a post that has a comments, it will say so under the post. Please click the comment link to see what others have had to say and join the discussion.

Looking forward to reading your comments,
Kara Ashley

Brain Researchers Discover The Evolutionary Traces Of Grammar

Source: Max Planck Society
Posted: February 17, 2006
The bases of the human language faculty are now being investigated by means of highly specialised measurement techniques and with increasing success. Why can we understand complex sentences, while our nearest cousins - apes - only understand individual words?
A comparison of the activation and structural connections of brain areas during the processing of simple or complex linguistic rules. A: The frontal operculum engages in the processing of both rule types (upper image).By contrast, Broca's area becomes active for complex rules only (lower image). B: The frontal operculum is linked to the anterior portion of the temporal lobe via the fasciculus uncinatus. Right: Broca's Area is connected with the posterior portion of the temporal lobe via the fasciculus longitudialis superior. (Image: Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences)
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig have discovered that two areas in the human brain are responsible for different types of language processing requirements. They found that simple language structures are processed in an area that is phylogenetically older, and which apes also possess. Complicated structures, by contrast, activate processes in a comparatively younger area which only exists in a more highly evolved species: humans. These results are fundamental to furthering our understanding of the human language faculty. (PNAS, February 6, 2006)
full text available here.

Check out our new Professional Development Page

Our new PD page is up and running! If you are hosting, attending, or know of a professional development opportunity that may be of interest to your NEALS colleagues, please send the information to kashley@fayschool.org.

Watchdog of Test Industry Faces Economic Extinction

New York Times
February 22, 2006

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — For more than 20 years, FairTest, a small nonprofit group headquartered on the second floor of an old house here, has been the No. 1 critic of America's big testing companies and their standardized tests.
In 1987, when FairTest began publishing its list of colleges that did not require applicants to submit SAT's, there were 51; today there are 730, including Holy Cross, Bowdoin, Bates, Mount Holyoke and Muhlenberg.
"The FairTest list provides an enormously valuable service for students looking at colleges who have proved themselves to everyone but the test agencies," said William Hiss, a Bates vice president.
A generation of education journalists, like Thomas Toch, who reported for Education Week and U.S. News & World Report, were schooled on the complexities and limitations of standardized testing by FairTest.
"They've helped me a lot," said Mr. Toch, who is now a director of Education Sector, a nonpartisan Washington policy research group.
On a slow day, like last Friday, Robert Schaeffer of FairTest handled calls from The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Lakeland Ledger, Associated Press and Hartford Courant and Bloomberg News.
On busy days, like July 13, 2004, reporters call by the dozens. That was the day FairTest helped reveal that scoring mistakes by the Educational Testing Service on its teacher licensing test had caused 4,100 men and women in 18 states to fail when they had actually passed the exam.
A few years ago, California officials were considering ending their support of the National Merit Scholarship program because it relied exclusively on a single score on the College Board's PSAT test to pick semifinalists.
"We contacted the College Board about validity and fairness studies of the PSAT, but they didn't give us information that addressed our concerns," said Michael Brown, chairman of a state committee that makes recommendations on admissions policy for California's public colleges. "So I asked FairTest, which got back with significant information on the limited reliability of a single PSAT score."
Last year, the University of California system ended its financial support of the National Merit program.
But for all FairTest's impact, its days may be numbered.
read the rest of the article here.

Howard Gardner at Watkinson School

The National Center for Independent School Renewal is holding its 'Northeast Cluster" spring meeting at the Watkinson School in Hartford, Connecticut on Monday, April 24th. Howard Gardner will deliver the keynote presentation "The Disciplined Mind." They are now seeking proposals for sessions. Visit the NCISR home page for more information.

How the brain reacts to social stress

Bullied mice experience genetic changes in the brain, study finds
The Associated Press
Updated: 6:58 p.m. ET Feb. 9, 2006
WASHINGTON - Any bully’s victim knows the experience can cause lingering fear. Now scientists watching big mice intimidate small ones have discovered the stress spurs genetic changes in the brain — a finding that may help research into depression and other mental illnesses.
The experiment suggests a part of the brain linked to addiction also plays a previously unsuspected role in illnesses characterized by chronic anxiety and social withdrawal, Texas researchers report Thursday in the journal Science.
In fact, a substance produced in the brain, called BDNF, seems to be the culprit, controlling whether the bullied mice turned into fearful hermits or not.
“This is a fascinating observation,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which helped fund the work.
Neuroscientists at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center wanted to test the role of the brain’s “reward pathway” in depression-like behavior. This brain circuitry is involved in emotional learning, and recognizing pleasure, and thus has a role in addiction. But people with major depression become almost numb, unable to experience pleasure, suggesting another role for the reward pathway.
Enter the mice, normally sociable creatures who quickly determine their pecking order, steering clear of aggressors in favor of friendlier company.
The Texas researchers subjected some small brown mice to intimidation more intense than they’d face in the wild: Each was placed for five minutes in the cage of a particularly aggressive, large white mouse, who battled the little one into a corner. Then, researchers divided the cage with a perforated, plexiglass divider for 24 hours — so the little mouse was in no physical danger, but saw and smelled the aggressor. For 10 days, each little mouse met a new bully.
The bullied mice emerged drastically cowed. Four weeks later, they still fearfully withdrew from even presumably friendly little mice.
What was happening in their brains?
to read the full text of this article, please go to the Resources for Learning Specialists page

Welcome to the NEALS Online Community!

If this is your first time visiting, we hope you'll take a minute to look around (check the "NEALS Links" to your right) . If you are interested in contributing to the site, please contact Kara Ashley (kashley@fayschool.org). If you'd like to comment about any of the articles posted here, please click the "Comment" link below each post. This is a great way to leave instant feedback or start a conversation with the group! We hope you will visit us often!

FDA Panel Calls for Strongest Warning on ADHD Drugs

In close vote, committee recommends 'black box' label for methylphenidates such as Ritalin
HealthDayThursday, February 9, 2006
THURSDAY, Feb. 9 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. advisory panel recommended on Thursday the strongest possible label warning for Ritalin and other stimulants used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder because of potential cardiac risks.
The Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted 8-7, with one abstention, to add a "black box" warning to the drugs, which include methylphenidates such as Ritalin, Concerta, Methylin and Metadate. Amphetamines, including Adderall, are also commonly used for the disorder. In August 2004, the FDA added a warning to Adderall, telling patients with heart conditions not to use the drug.
The recommendation came after reports of the deaths of 25 people, 19 of them children, among people using both types of medications.
read the complete story on the National Institutes of Health website by clicking here.

Tools of the Trade, Vol. II

Tools of the Trade, Volume 2
Online Resources for Learning Specialists
Compiled by Kara Ashley

LD Resources: Designed byRichard and Anne Wanderman, longtime friends of NEALS....

for the full text, visit the Resources for Learning Specialists page.

Visit our online store!

NEALS has a new online store. Check it out, pick up something to keep you warm (or cool) and support NEALS at the same time!

editor's pick: NEALS Logo Jr. Hoodie. Soft and warm, and stylish!

Happy New Year from NEALS

Hello friends,

As a new year opens, I always like to take some time to reflect on where I've been and think about where I hope to go. This January has found me, once again, grateful for the opportunity to be in such great company both in my 'paying gig' at Fay School, but also as a member of the NEALS community. This tends to be the quietest time of year for those of us on the Executive Board. It is a welcome change from the rush of putting together the fall meeting, but it is a time when I miss the regular contact I have with many of you.

If you are feeling a similar need to connect with your NEALS colleagues, I hope you will consider sharing your thoughts, wisdom, and enthusiasm with us both in our online community and at our upcoming spring meeting.

Speaking of which, I have some new information to pass along regarding our spring meeting. As I mentioned earlier, we will be meeting at Fay School on the same day as Fay's annual Research Into Practice conference. This year's title is Developmental Counseling in Independent Schools: Best Practices Related to Integrated Services. There will be seminars for administrators, elementary educators, counselors, deans, and learning specialists on the topic of how to implement integrated services, early literacy development, and counseling focused on the developmental wellness model. The RIP folks have invited us to attend the morning keynote address (more details to follow) before we break out into our presentation groups. Lunch will be divided into 'affinity groups', so there will be plenty of time to catch up with one another!

So, watch your mail for more information about May 8th and make plans to hit the road with your school counselor, Dean of Students, or Dean of Faculty for what promises to be a wonderful day of education, celebration, and camaraderie.

In the meantime, don't be a stranger!

Save the date!

NEALS's Spring Meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 8th at Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts. Our topic will be Sharing our Strengths: Programs that Work.
We will hear presentations from our colleagues about effective program design, innovative methods of service delivery, and unique characteristics of individual programs. The format for the day will be a departure from our usual meetings in that we will meet in small groups for forty-five minute periods.
The date of our spring meeting also coincides with Fay's annual Research Into Practice (RIP) conference. This year's focus will be counseling models in independent schools. The organizers of RIP have agreed to allow cross-registration between the conferences. More information about the RIP conference will appear on this site in the near future.
If you are interested in submitting a proposal for a presentation, please follow the submission guidelines on the Spring Meeting page. We hope you will join us for an fun an informative day as we share our strengths and celebrate our achievements.

Support NEALS by becoming a member!

In April of 1999, a small group of learning specialists gathered at Hotchkiss School to share ideas and to support each other in our efforts to provide academic support for students with learning differences in independent schools. NEALS has grown steadily over the last six years. Learning specialists from over fifty independent schools have attended meetings to learn about innovation in teaching, neurocognitive research, and program design. This last April many specialists attended a meeting at Landmark School where Dr. Charley Haynes presented members with a program about the research conducted on Dyslexic and Non-dyslexic brains. After lunch, attendees split into three groups to hear the latest information about Special Education Law and Independent Schools, Social Communication, Self-Advocacy, Pragmatics and Impulsiveness in the Dorms and What’s New in Assessment and Evaluation.

It is exciting to watch NEALS grow to 83 members and become a non-profit organization. Along with the growth of membership, the costs associated with hosting our meetings grow also. We hope you will join NEALS. Professionals in good standing, employed by independent schools, are encouraged to join the association. Consulting professionals (educational consultants, psychologists) wishing to be considered for membership may be nominated by a current NEALS member.

If you have any questions about NEALS membership, please contact a member of NEALS’s Executive Board.

Kara Ashley, President
Fay School

Rebecca Peterson, Program Director
Stoneleigh Burnham School

Amy Good, Public Relations Director
Lawrence Academy

Marcia Ramunni, Treasurer /Membership Coordinator
Salisbury School

Marcia King, Secretary
Hebron Academy

Mark Frigo
Ass’t. P. R. Director
Avon Old Farms

NEALS Membership Application 2005-2006




Please accept my membership application and $25 dues, payable to NEALS.
(mail to Marcia Ramunni, treasurer NEALS, Salisbury School, 251 Canaan Rd., Salisbury, CT 06068)

Please make any suggestions for future program topics here: