For 49 years Groves Academy has been a leader in meeting the academic and social-emotional needs of children with dyslexia, ADHD, and other learning challenges. Long before the word equity became the standard to meet in the education world, Groves Academy’s programming was addressing the long-held disparities children with learning disabilities faced through the delivery of best practice, evidence-based instruction, and curriculum. With the start of the 2019–20 school year, Groves expanded and deepened its commitment to delivering equitable educational experiences with the launch of the Psychoeducational Assessment for All (PAA) program.
A collaboration between The Learning Center at Groves and Groves Literacy Partnerships℠ (GLP), the PAA program brings at no cost the Learning Center’s expertise in providing diagnostic evaluations to children attending underserved Groves Literacy Partnerships’ partner schools. The diagnostic evaluation provides a comprehensive assessment of cognitive, academic, social-emotional, and behavioral functioning. From the evaluation, the Learning Center’s Psychologists are able to identify potential diagnoses that allow school professionals to implement crucial accommodations and recommendations for individualized student support.
“…the PAA team recognizes that the need for these comprehensive no-cost evaluations at underserved schools is vast and deep.”
The Johnson Scholarship Foundation played a key role in the successful launch of the PAA program through its generous matching grant award. With funds in place, the Learning Center secured a Psychologist Ph.D. candidate, Laurie Kincade, through the University of Minnesota internship match program. Laurie quickly established an evidence-based protocol that identified the children in need of the Learning Center’s psychoeducational diagnostic services. With the protocol in place, she conducted eight diagnostic assessments at two underserved GLP partner schools during the fiscal year 2020. A key piece to the diagnostic evaluation process was for Laurie to meet with the evaluated student’s parent(s). For several parents, these conversations brought helpful insight into their children’s learning challenges, and how the appropriate intervention would foster success in the classroom. For the first time, they heard hope versus despair.
The PAA program began the 2020–21 school year buoyed not only by the success of year one of the program but by the continued support from the Johnson Scholarship Foundation and the newly added support from the Gil and Louella Braun Memorial Fund. These combined award dollars are allowing the PAA’s work to continue to grow with now two psychologists, Laurie and Alaa Houri, who joined the Learning Center’s team in July. Despite the challenges brought by COVID-19 and schools moving to distance learning, the PAA program has expanded its work to three GLP partner schools and has set a goal of completing 20 in-person diagnostic assessments over the course of the 2020-21 school year.
With six assessments already completed, the PAA team recognizes that the need for these comprehensive no-cost evaluations at underserved schools is vast and deep. Groves Academy, along with the Johnson Scholarship Foundation and the Gil and Louella Braun Memorial Fund, have set their sights on closing this equity gap by ensuring that every student in every classroom struggling with learning has access to the services needed to reach their full potential.
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