Morningside Academy’s school helps elementary and middle school students to catch up and get ahead. Our mastery and fluency methodologies lead to rapid success. Most of our students did not perform to their potential in their previous schools. Entering students typically score in the first and second quartiles on standardized achievement tests in reading, language and mathematics – below age-based grade level. Some have diagnosed learning disabilities (LD); others are labeled as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Some lag behind their peer group for no “diagnosed” reason. Students’ IQs range from low average to well above average, including children who qualify as highly capable. A small percentage of students have poor relations with family members and friends but most do not. Morningside is not a school for children with behavior problems.
For the first time in their lives our students are very successful in school. In fact we tell parents and families that their children will gain at least 2 grade levels in their skill of greatest deficit in one school year, or their money back. In thirty-four years, Morningside Academy has returned less than one percent of school-year tuition.
The models of education for children with learning disabilities and ADHD offered in most “mild special education” programs focus upon teaching children to employ compensatory strategies to sidestep their “disabilities.” For example, if they struggle to decode text, they may be given “books on tape”; if they struggle with writing, they may be allowed to dictate their compositions; if they have trouble with arithmetic, they may be given a calculator; or if they have trouble with performance fluency they may be given untimed tests. Most of these problems relate back to the problem of age-based grade placement, which results in many children experiencing attempts at education that are over their heads. Morningside Academy does not provide compensatory education. It directly addresses student deficits in learning and attention by placing students in curriculum sequences they are ready for, based upon their performance levels, regardless of the intended age or grade level of the curriculum. We construct behavioral repertoires to eliminate (a) deficient basic academic skills, such as reading, writing, and mathematics; (b) deficient learning skills, such as goal setting, listening, noticing, reasoning, thinking, studying, and organizing; and (c) deficient performance skills; that is, skills in performing tasks in a timely, accurate and organized manner, without disrupting others or causing oneself undue grief.
Morningside Academy’s elementary-aged students enroll in the Foundations Program, for one to three years or more, to catch up to grade level. The Foundations program offers a full day of foundation skills: reading, writing, math, plus thinking, reasoning and problem solving skills. Many middle school-aged students also enroll in the Foundations program. These middle school students need a full day of foundation skills to make a year’s academic progress in school. Many Foundations students who catch up to grade level extend their stay to achieve beyond their grade level. Morningside’s middle school-aged students whose achievement levels in Foundation skills are at the sixth grade level and who do not require lengthy class periods of reading and writing to maintain yearly progress enroll in our middle school program.
Morningside Academy is guided by a general model which we call the Morningside Model of Generative Instruction (MMGI). The model specifies procedures for instructional design from components to composites; assessment of student entering behavior as well as confirmation of mastery; data collection; three phases of learning: instruction, practice, and application; and procedures for shaping generative learners. We describe MMGI in detail in our Foundations & Middle School program summaries.