Principles & Practices

Introduction

​​In seeking to create a culture of inclusion, AISJ is engaged in a continual process of reflection, change, and ongoing development of pedagogy, curriculum, and assessment. Learning programs across the school are in alignment to ensure access and pathways for all students admitted to the school.   

We recognize that diversity enriches our community and improves opportunities for connection and empathy as internationally minded individuals. The school’s intention is for inclusiveness of individuals who are diverse in language, culture, religion, orientation and neurodiversity. 

This Protocol & Practices document was developed in 2021-2022.  This will be reviewed every 2 years by the K12 Inclusion Services Coordinator and the Schoolwide Leadership Team.  Next review 2023-2024.

 

AISJ Guiding statements
 

PURPOSE

Inspire learning to build our better world.

The purpose of AISJ is to provide exceptional educational experiences in a diverse and nurturing environment in order to inspire learning and build our better world. We cultivate an inclusive community of learners so that we empower global citizens to fulfill their future purpose. 

COMMUNITY PRINCIPLES

The American International School of Johannesburg fosters a positive culture and is committed to Community Principles that include: 

  • We are better when we act together. 

  • Our differences make us stronger. 

  • Every voice counts. Every voice matters. 

  • Every team needs individuals. Every individual needs a team.

LEARNING PRINCIPLES

Learning is the development of knowledge, skills and character through experience and reflection that changes who we are.  Learning happens best when:

Relationship: 
Learners engage in positive relationships that enhance their sense of safety, well-being and belonging. 

Challenge:
Learners are challenged with ambitious expectations and appropriate, personalized goals.

Process:
Learners engage in processes of inquiry, investigation, deep thinking, feedback, and reflection to apply and transfer ideas in multiple contexts. 

Ownership:
Learners own their learning and know how to learn, empowering them to be self-directed, creative and explore their curiosities and individual passions. 

Engagement:
Learners are active and collaborative, engaging with diverse viewpoints to develop empathy and character.  

Relevance:
Learners find purpose and meaning as they make authentic connections among concepts and across disciplines.

 

Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

AISJ is committed to Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) and defines them below:

  • At AISJ, justice is based on the principles of equity and inclusion. It refers to systems and structures developed so that members of our community feel safe and know that there is fairness when concerns are shared. Our community is empathetic and compassionate when resolving issues. Ultimately, all community members will develop a sense of their own agency as well as a sense of social responsibility towards others.
  • At AISJ, equity is the fair treatment, opportunity and access to the support and resources each person needs to be successful and to be contributing members of our school. The principle of equity acknowledges systemic imbalances. Individual circumstances need to be recognized, considered, and addressed when seeking to eliminate barriers.
  • At AISJ, diversity refers to the range of similarities and differences in individual characteristics which shape our school community. These include race, gender, ability/disability, national origin, colour, language, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, family responsibility and political opinion.  Diversity also encompasses the intersectionality of identities and recognizes the power dynamics related to this.
  • At AISJ, inclusion is a sense of belonging. A culture of inclusion is premised on mutual respect and dignity for all where each member of our community feels valued for who they are as an individual or a group. At AISJ each member of our community feels heard, feels supported and has access to resources and systems to be successful.

This Protocol & Practices document represents our Protocols and high level details of our Practice.  The AISJ Inclusion Services Handbook provides details of implementation and execution of these protocols and practices.
 

Responsible Inclusion at AISJ

AISJ is committed to a progressive and reflective process concerning inclusion. 

The AISJ Inclusion Services Program is based on the concept that differentiation is achieved by the continual adjustment of an appropriately challenging learning program to match a student’s demonstrated level and pace of learning. This is achieved through the MultiTiered Systems of Support framework, differentiated practices within the classroom, and parent and student involvement. Through these programs and partnerships AISJ works with the resources available to meet the individual needs of our students in a balanced and caring way.  
 

English Language Learners

AISJ not only recognizes its multicultural and multilingual environment, but commits to honoring its linguistically diverse members. AISJ creates individual language profiles for each ELL student to support English language acquisition for new and developing language learners and encouraging the ongoing development of home languages.  The school provides for home language development through such opportunities as the School Supported Self Study in grades 9-12. Across all grades, home languages are used as a bridge to learn content while English language, both social and academic, is being acquired. 

All educators have a shared responsibility as teachers of English learners and are therefore responsible for teaching the language of their content areas.

We believe that the development of language skills is vital for the acquisition of knowledge, critical thinking, refining values, and for social and emotional development and well being. In addition to promoting cognitive growth, language is an important factor in sustaining a student’s cultural identity and intercultural understanding.  Within this framework, and as an international school, we promote the use of international varieties of English as our primary medium of instruction and communication.
 

Students with Learning Differences

AISJ embraces the belief that neurodiversity amongst individuals is the norm and that inclusion of diverse learning needs enriches our larger community. We are committed to providing both early intervention, which is responsive to the developing needs of students, and individualized programs of support to students with identified learning needs. We believe equity in education means that students have access to learning environments and experiences that are supportive, challenging, and personalized to their unique learning needs. When AISJ cannot provide the educational interventions and support needed with our resources, we refer families to outside services and/or alternate schools. 

All teachers have a shared responsibility in the development of supportive learning environments. Individualized Learning Plans (ILP) are created to facilitate this. They are written in collaboration with students (if appropriate), parents, counselors, learning support teachers, and/or class/subject teachers.  ILPs are informed by the unique strengths and needs of the individual, often identified by a formal assessment and in conjunction with the student’s goals for learning. It articulates interventions and accommodations required for the student to be successful. 
 

Responsible Inclusion during Admission

AISJ is an inclusive, diverse, non-discriminatory international school. The admission process is guided by AISJ’s  guiding statements and school parameters. During the admissions process, AISJ views students as individuals and considers their ability to succeed in the classroom, maintain social-emotional wellbeing and AISJ’s capacity to support them to reach their fullest potential. 

A review panel of qualified staff members from each division is responsible for making an admission recommendation; however, final admission decisions are made by the school director. It should be noted that in making a decision the review panel is informed by a set of factors or criteria which address the diverse characteristics and capacity of the particular grade for which a student is applying. 

Students admitted to high school are expected to be able to meet graduation requirements without modification. In cases where a student may need additional support, a review panel will evaluate the student’s needs and AISJ’s capacity to offer accommodations within the guidelines of Inclusion Services.
 

Admission - English Language Learners

When a student is identified as requiring additional English language support at admission, the following process will be followed:

The Admissions Coordinator will share the file with the divisional principal, counselor, and Inclusion Services Coordinator for review.

If the student is in PK-grade 8, the team will review grade level capacity before making a final decision. If the student is applying for grade 9 or above, the following must be considered:

  1. Students applying for grades 11 and 12 must have adequate English to access the curriculum without additional English language support. They must have 5.5 or higher on the WIDA. WIDA is the English assessment used at the school to determine an individual’s proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English. 

    • Students applying for Grade 10 must have at least a 3.5 on the WIDA in order to be considered. If they are 3.5-5.0 on the WIDA, they will be enrolled in the English acquisition class (a class specific to Academic English Development that replaces the mainstream English class) and the ELL support class (a class that provides language support for the other core classes). If they are 5.0 or above, they are typically enrolled in the ELL support class only. These decisions are made on a case by case basis with other factors also used for consideration. 

    • Students applying for grade 9 must have at least a 2.0 on the WIDA. Depending on their level of English, they will be enrolled in both the English acquisition class and the ELL support class or only the ELL support class. 

    • If required, the English language teacher and/or the Inclusion Services Coordinator might need to complete the WIDA virtual screener to inform the placement decision if the family is not in South Africa. If the family is in South Africa, they can come to the campus to complete the full WIDA assessment.
       

  2. If there is capacity at the given grade level, an ELL file is created, the student is added to the list for a complete WIDA assessment upon arrival and the student is added to the ELL database. 

  3. The school monitors a student's transition for eight weeks. This combined with the WIDA assessment will be used to make a final decision regarding the amount of support required.
     

Admission - Learning Support

Full disclosure of any history of support and/or prior evaluation is required at admission. Failure to do so could negatively affect  the student’s continued enrollment at the school. When a student is identified as needing, or possibly needing, additional learning support at the time of admission, the following process will be followed:

  1. AISJ can only serve students with mild to moderate learning needs. If there is a question about whether a student might fit within our service delivery model, the Admissions Coordinator will first review the file with the Inclusion Services Coordinator. All available information will be reviewed, a conversation with the family and/or the current school might occur. The student must be able to access our curriculum with accommodations and needed intervention, but without modification. If it is determined that the student could be served within our school, then the admission process continues as outlined below.
     

  2. The admission file is shared with the Inclusion Services Coordinator, the divisional principal, and the divisional counselor. In the HS, it is also shared with the Inclusion Services Learning Leader. This file includes general admission information, with the addition of any outside assessments, e.g. psycho-educational assessments, individual learning plans, or other additional information. All evaluations must be up to date for admission to be considered. For a psycho-educational evaluation, this means it has been done in the last 3 years. Should the student enroll in the school, the expectation is that all evaluations will remain current and reevaluations will be done in a timely manner and shared with the school. Any evaluations or documentation completed in a language other than English, must be submitted with an official translation.
     

  3. The Divisional admission team determines if the student's needs could be well served and that there is the capacity to do so. This review process might include contacting the family, the prior school, meeting the student to complete further assessments with them, asking for more information or further assessments, and/or meeting as a team to discuss the application. The decision might include a conditional offer letter if there are specific concerns to address.
     

  4. If the student is admitted, a Learning Support file is created and the student is added to the learning support database. Families are then committed to keeping all evaluations current  (e.g. 3 year re-evaluation of Psycho-educational Assessment) and providing any updated information to the school to inform support decisions. 
     

  5. If the applicant does not have a history of support services but support needs are suspected because of information in the report card or the confidential recommendation, the admission team may request to meet the student to complete onsite assessments with them or request outside assessments before making a final admissions decision. An admission decision would be based on the additional information and might include a conditional offer letter if there are specific concerns to address.
     

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support

Multi-Tiered Systems of Support is a framework to meet the needs of all students. It uses data from universal screeners, progress monitoring, formative and summative assessment, standardized assessments, and teacher observation to monitor student progress and personalize learning.  MTSS allows us to be responsive to student needs in a timely and equitable way. It allows us to address gaps in instruction, opportunity, and skills quickly and without a label.

Tier 1: High Quality Core Instruction

Tier 1 includes all students and consists of evidence-based instruction and ongoing collection of assessment data that informs differentiation for instruction. Tier 1 is based on the assumption that all teachers understand the needs of our ELL and neurodiverse learners and have the ability to plan for and provide targeted instruction to meet their needs. 

Tier 2: Targeted, short term, individualized support

In Tier 2, targeted interventions are put into place to support areas of need identified during Tier 1 instruction or assessment. These interventions are provided by the class or support teacher and are focused around specific support goals. Tier 2 interventions are implemented for short instructional intervals and student progress is frequently monitored. Tier 2 interventions may be included on an Early Intervention Plan (EIP) or Student Intervention Plan (SIP). This depends on where students fall within the referral process.

Tier 2 interventions are in addition to core instruction and does not replace it  Additional data is used to track student progress and the impact of the intervention is reviewed consistently. If these interventions are part of a referral, the results of the intervention informs the next steps in the referral process. If these interventions are provided by the Learning Support teacher as part of an individualized learning plan (ILP), the progress is noted and adjusted within the ILP. Tier 2 should be fluid and based on student need and response to intervention.

Tier 3: Targeted, long term individualized support

Tier 3 interventions increase in intensity from Tier 2 intervention. These targeted and systematic interventions increase in frequency and duration. It might be part of the referral process, but more likely it is used for students with identified learning support needs. A scientifically based intervention is used to address the identified needs of the student. This is in addition to core instruction and does not replace it. It is typically reserved for students who are performing more than 1 grade level below benchmarks.
 

Student Centered Processes

At AISJ we keep students at the center of our discussions. The Child StudyTeam is a group of educators (specialist and generalist alike) and may include the parents and/or student. This team meets to have a professional inquiry about a child’s learning and areas of concern that need to be addressed. This team shares responsibility and accountability for the design and implementation of strategic interventions. The Child Study Team meets regularly and is an integral part of the MTSS process at AISJ.
 

Student Progress Monitoring and Reporting

The Individual Learning Plan (ILP) is meant to address each child’s unique learning profile and includes specific educational goals, services, and assessments. ILPs are developed by the case manager in collaboration with the ILP Team and are monitored by the case manager. The ILP is an opportunity for the parents, the student (if appropriate), and the educators to work together as team members to discuss the student’s needs, to identify services that will be provided to meet those needs, and to set annual goals.  An ILP is an essential communication tool among the family, student, and school and it documents a history of support. 

A Student Intervention Plan (SIP) or Early Intervention Plan (EIP)  is a way of documenting a student's current academic level and interventions designed to increase the student's performance in Elementary and Middle School. The SIP is a plan for students who are receiving specific and targeted intervention(s) but may not have a diagnosed disability. The SIP outlines one or more of the following: specific skills, behaviors, goals, accommodations, progress monitoring timeline and assessments relevant to the students learning and/or behavioral needs. The SIP is a part of the CST process and is a part of the CST documentation. The Early Intervention Plan is used in PK-grade 2 before or during the CST process. It is used to document interventions while providing maximum flexibility to respond quickly to the needs of our youngest learners. 

The Individual Accommodation Plan (IAP) is developed when students have documented needs for accommodations in the classroom and for formal testing situations. It outlines their needs to teachers to ensure they understand and implement them when required.

A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is developed for students during the referral process and/or after a need is formally identified. The purpose is to identify accommodations and strategies that all teachers will use to address a behavior concern.  It includes de-escalation strategies, specific goals and interventions for achieving these goals, and a clear process for responding to inappropriate behavior in a consistent and predictable way. BIPs will be developed by the case manager in collaboration with the ILP Team and will be monitored by the case manager. The BIP is an opportunity for the parents, the student (if appropriate), and the educators to work together.
 

Other Inclusion Services

In addition to ELL and learning support, AISJ offers a range of services at the school and utilizes many outside services within the larger Johannesburg community.

Counseling

School counselors provide transition planning, career exploration, educational interventions, and social and emotional support for students. AISJ School Counselors can and will be case managers of specific students who may need specific behavioral or emotional support systems. Counselors develop and implement the wellbeing program, child protection lessons and safeguarding protocols across the school. 

OUTSIDE SERVICES

Educational Psychologist Services

Evaluates different areas of a child’s cognitive abilities, levels of achievement, behavioral patterns, language skills and other areas of processing that impact learning. 

Speech and Language Therapy

Evaluates and provides intervention to children presenting with cognitive/ communicative disorders including, but not limited to, disordered articulation, voice, expressive language, receptive language, pragmatic skills, executive function skills, feeding/swallowing and, fluency (stuttering). We work directly with private therapists who come to the school to perform these services.

Occupational Therapy

Evaluates and provides intervention to children struggling with fine motor skills, gross motor skills, sensory processing skills, and/or activities instrumental to daily life. We work directly with private therapists who come to the school to perform these services.

In addition AISJ counseling and Inclusion Services teams work with many outside service providers in areas such as play therapy, individual therapy or counseling, and/or Applied Behavioral Analysis when needed.
 

Re-entry Protocols 

Students attending AISJ at times may need to take a leave of absence and seek significant medical and/or mental health interventions. To ensure success, It is important that entry back into school be appropriately monitored. A re-entry plan is created so that teachers have the necessary information to support the student’s return to school. 

Once a re-entry plan is established, the family will be contacted and informed of the re-entry date. On the first day back at school and prior to entering class, the student will be asked to meet with the divisional counselor, divisional Principal and others if necessary. If the student is enrolled in Learning Support, the case manager will be included on the reentry team and be involved in the re-entry planning. Follow up meetings and progress monitoring of the student is conducted by the school counselor. Follow up meetings and adjustments to plan are based upon the needs of the students. The reentry protocol can be accessed here.

If a student in Learning Support is suspended, their reentry to school will include a meeting of the ILP team to plan for their return. The development of a Behavior Intervention Plan will be required if the suspension is linked to any ongoing concern that needs to be addressed.
 

POPIa

The Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) Act of 2013 requires the school to inform parents how we collect, process, disclose and destroy personal information obtained. The School is committed to protecting privacy and ensures that personal information is used appropriately according to this law, its regulations and other relevant data privacy legislation. 

As a School, we are often required to collect, share and process students’ personal information (SPI) in order to support identified learning needs. This information, including Learning Plans, may be collected and processed by our staff and we make every effort to protect and secure this information. Parents/guardians are entitled to request access to the information on the learning plan.