How to get extra support from your school

After-school tutoring and conflict resolution are just two of the many ways schools can address the diverse needs of students.

By GreatSchools Staff

It's no secret that a typical U.S. school does a great deal more than teach reading, writing and arithmetic. In order to create an environment conducive to teaching and learning, most schools provide a variety of support services to students including individualized tutoring, decision-making guidance and assistance for those with personal problems that hinder success in school.

What academic support do schools offer?

Some schools offer tutoring and homework clubs before school, after school or during lunch. Many schools target specific groups of students who are at risk of falling behind or dropping out. The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools that do not make adequate annual progress for three years to provide supplemental services, including tutoring, to students at the school. Peer tutoring is another approach and can benefit both the student tutor and the student who needs extra academic support.

If a child is having serious difficulty in school, academically or socially, and needs special attention or an alternative approach to learning, schools are required at minimum by federal law to convene a student study team. This team consists of all the adults who work regularly with the child and know him well: parents, teachers, an administrator and any other relevant school staff. The team, with the student, devises a plan to address any obstacles to learning and to foster greater academic success. Convening a student study team is often the first step in deciding whether or not a student should receive further testing to determine eligibility for special education services.

What nonacademic services do schools provide?

In the area of healthcare, funding for school nurses has decreased over time to the point that many school districts no longer employ nurses, or they assign them to work in several schools rather than one. Some schools have found alternative ways to provide health education and services to students, usually through collaborations with local agencies and sometimes with the help of grants or programs. With the proper resources, schools can offer hearing and vision screening to detect such problems as hearing loss and myopia and assist students with chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes.

Conflict-resolution programs, including peer-mediation programs, have been popular over the last several years. Bullying-prevention programs are also on the rise. Many schools also provide counseling for students who are facing personal struggles (such as depression or anxiety) or refer students to community-based organizations that provide counseling services.

When schools face budget cuts, on-campus counseling and health services are often the programs that are targeted for elimination. Child advocates often push for more support services to address the complex needs of students; some school experts, however, view the business of school as strictly teaching and learning and would like to see less emphasis on nonacademic services.