Grades 6-12; Boarding 8-12


Goals of the program

In addition to preparing students for college-level study in the future, the Cervone program’s objectives are twofold. A central goal is to identify each student’s educational difficulties and to address them through individually tailored academic supports and accommodations. A second goal is to help the student access and fully participate in Pennington’s college preparatory curriculum. The student plays an essential collaborative role in this process.

Key strategies

The key strategy employed by the Cervone Center for Learning is the Compensatory Skills (CS) class, a daily one-to-one class designed to address compensatory strategies. The CS teacher begins the year by completing an assessment of the student’s strengths and areas of academic need. This assessment includes a thorough review of the student’s academic history and formal psychological and educational evaluations. This may also include the administration of tests designed to assess the student’s specific instructional needs; for example, an Informal Reading Inventory that assesses the student’s reading level, reading comprehension skills, and word reading skills. From this initial assessment process, an educational plan is developed that is referred to as the Compensatory Skills Plan (CSP). The CSP is the framework for establishing short- and long-term instructional objectives for addressing individual needs within the CS class and for helping the student develop strategies to manage the academic material presented in other classes. Included in this plan is a focus on developing skills of self-advocacy.

The CS class prioritizes addressing individual student needs and equipping students with strategies to effectively compensate for and manage the academic content across their other courses. Instead of offering remedial instruction, the instructional methods in CS are tailored to help students use their inherent strengths while addressing needs. For students with language-based learning issues, these techniques may include methods to improve reading with content-based lessons to support vocabulary and comprehension, incorporating components of the Wilson Reading System®, Orton-Gillingham, or other structured approaches to reading. CS teachers may use direct teaching of the writing process or aspects of the Hochman Method to improve writing skills. To assist students further, the CS teachers incorporate assistive technologies such as voice recognition software, text-to-speech programs, and audiobooks. For students with executive functioning needs, compensatory techniques may include strategies for organization, planning, sequencing, task initiation, goal-directed persistence, and the like. Technologies that support these executive functioning skills are implemented to help students overcome skill weaknesses, promote academic achievement, and enhance students’ success.

Strategies for helping students learn to manage the academic material presented in other classes are central to every CS class. Students are expected to develop an understanding of the way they learn best, and attention is given to how well students are using learned strategies in their work in other courses.

Middle School students enroll in a Compensatory Skills class in conjunction with their other courses. In grades nine through twelve, a student may have a Cervone Center for Learning (LC) English class and/or an LC class in mathematics as well as a Compensatory Skills class. These small LC classes are taught by faculty who are learning specialists as well as discipline-specific teachers. Therefore teachers know how to present course material and provide direct instruction to students who struggle in a specific academic area. They follow the same general curriculum as a standard course, but the size of the class makes differentiation in the presentation of the material possible and provides individual attention that assists learning. Beyond these LC classes, students follow a standard course of study.

Success after Pennington

The goal for most students is to transition out of LC classes before graduation from Pennington and to achieve the independence and confidence that will help to assure them success in college and beyond.