The John F. Kennedy School is dedicated to creating a supportive learning environment for all students, including those with certain special learning needs. The school provides accommodations and resources in keeping with our rigorous dual language program, and as broad as possible within staff limitations. JFKS does not offer a full special education program, and in individual cases it is sometimes determined that the special needs of a student would be more effectively met in a monolingual or smaller classroom setting. However, students with special needs do attend JFKS and are supported with a variety of strategies and resources.
Staff and Program Development
It is a JFKS goal to provide improved services for students with special needs due to increased recognition of the importance of integration in German public schools. This is also in accordance with the mandate of the Berlin School Law to help all students reach their full learning potential. JFKS provides regular and ongoing professional development opportunities for its teachers in the areas of special learning needs, differentiation of instruction and use of the most up to date ways to support these students. The school has also sought and received additional funding from the Office of Overseas Schools to broaden its special needs program.
In the elementary school JFKS is able to effectively help students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder (ADD/ADHD), perception processing disorders and milder forms of Asperger Syndrome/Autism Spectrum Disorder. The school is also able to serve hearing- and sight-impaired or physically- or mentally-handicapped students, if outside support is provided by the school district, the child’s parents, the health insurance company or the employer of the child’s parents.
Services for students with special needs are managed by the school administration and the JFKS School Counseling department. There are two kinds of students with special needs at JFK Elementary School:
- Students with milder forms of learning disorders, who have been identified by the teachers and tested by in-house staff
- Students with diagnosed special needs, who have been tested by the German-speaking Berlin School Psychological Service or by English-speaking, registered and certified psychologists.
Both groups of students are served in-house by JFKS staff, and in some cases these students receive additional services outside of school.
Students with special needs are discussed regularly in the class conference, which consist of all of the teachers who teach a particular child, along with the school counselor and one of the principals. Centrally organized grade level conferences traditionally take place at the end of the first semester, 8 weeks before the end of the school year and then 4 weeks before school ends. Class conferences may also be called whenever teachers observe a dramatic change in a student’s performance, when an in school assessment shows a special need or when parents provide the school with written documentation of a diagnosed disorder.
Students with diagnosed and documented special needs whose psycho-educational report is less than three years old, are eligible for accommodations. The class conference decides which accommodations are appropriate for the particular student, these are documented and the parents receive a copy of the accommodations page. A copy is also given to each of the student’s teachers and is updated annually.
The school’s on-site learning therapist meets as needed with individual students with special needs one hour per week, while the school counselor may meet with students either individually or in small groups.
In the high school at JFKS, services and accommodations for students with a diagnosed learning disability are provided in accordance with Berlin School Law and standard procedures in the United States. Accommodations for the MSA (Mittlerer Schulabschluss, end of 10th grade examination) and Abitur exams are determined by Berlin regulations; AP (Advanced Placement) exam accommodations are regulated by the College Board.
Files of students with special needs (language, Math, AD(H)D, milder forms of Asperger Syndrome / Autism Spectrum Disorder, physical disabilities) from the JFKS Elementary School are managed by the Middle School Counselor (grades 6-9), who is responsible for:
- Making teachers aware of students with special needs at the start of the school year,
- Making sure that psycho-educational and other evaluations are up to date, and counseling parents if more information / evaluation is necessary,
- Calling and facilitating grade level class conferences early in the school year, at which supportive measures and accommodations are decided upon and documented (a principal is present and signs the accommodations form for each student, and parents are informed by letter from the principal)
- Maintaining the accommodations file in Haus Reil
New students with identified learning disabilities are required to submit current psycho-educational or other evaluations, in order to receive accommodations, and are handled according to the above procedure (Middle School Counselor grades 7-9, High School Counselor grades 10-12).
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