The Learning Supports initiative views success in school as the responsibility of more than just the school itself. In fact, for those youth with barriers to learning, success often requires the collective response of a myriad of services and resources available through the community to provide support for the learning that occurs inside and outside of the school building. Not only is it what occurs within the classroom, but the ability to mitigate through the social and emotional expectations that occur with middle and high school students, especially those with barriers in their lives. (See Learning Supports Logic Model.)
Therefore, addressing the area of “successful in school” requires a three-pronged approach:
- Provide quality instruction and address academic rigor.
- Need for visionary and dedicated leadership to provide support for the work of the school staff and students.
- Ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to learn and succeed in school by providing Learning Supports.
Some students experience barriers that interfere with their ability and motivation to learn. For those students, schools, families, and communities must work together to provide Learning Supports. Additionally, schools and their partners must develop a comprehensive, cohesive approach to delivery of these supports and make this an integral part of their on-going school improvement efforts. Only with attention given to both quality instruction and learning supports can all children and youth be successful in school.
This graphic illustrates the need for "learning supports." Everyday students walk in to classrooms with a range of abilities and readiness to learn. The continuum on the left side of this graphic denotes that range.
Some students have no barriers to their learning and are prepared to learn whatever the teachers has prepared to teach that day. Others have some barriers to their learning and a few students have very complex and difficult barriers that prevent them from fully engaging in the instruction that schools provide.
These students need supports to manuver around or overcome these barriers. These supports generally fall into six categories that are defined by research and are named in the box in the lower right hand corner of the graphic. These six supports are considered the Content Areas for Learning Supports described in the next section.