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Arrowsmith

Strengthening Learning Capacities

PROGRAM

arrowsmithschool.org

RESEARCH AND REPORTS ON THE ARROWSMITH PROGRAM


The Arrowsmith Program of cognitive exercises was first offered to students with learning disabilities in 1978. Arrowsmith School was established in Toronto in 1980 where the cognitive exercises have been offered and continuously developed and refined since that date. It is now offered at public and private schools in Canada and the U.S. The Arrowsmith Program methodology is based on neuroscience research and over thirty years of experience demonstrating that it is possible to identify and strengthen

several of the cognitive capacities underlying learning disabilities that affect specific types of learning and the acquisition of academic, social and life skills. The Arrowsmith School website at www.arrowsmithschool. org contains a description of the Arrowsmith methodology and additional information on the types of learning disabilities that it addresses as well as articles about the Arrowsmith Program and the full text of the research studies that are referred to in this brochure.

2005 ARROWSMITH PROGRAM OUTCOME EVALUATION


prepared by Dr. William J. Lancee, Ph. D.
In 2001, the Donner Canadian Foundation funded a three year study that was designed to follow a sample of 79 learning disabled students attending the Arrowsmith School in Toronto. The study was prepared by Dr. William J. Lancee, Ph.D. who is Head of Research in the Department of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital and Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto. Dr. Lancee has designed and carried out more than 20 peer reviewed collaborative studies and has published 37 papers on a wide variety of topics. This Report was released on November 20, 2005. Learning Disabilities (LD) seriously affect academic and emotional development and are unlikely to remit without specialized intervention. Students with learning disabilities tend to fall farther and farther behind their peers in academic performance and subsequently tend to have a low sense of selfworth. Klein and Mannuza (2000) followed 104 children with LD who initially did not have emotional difficulties. Sixteen years later, these children, when compared to 124 controls, had a much lower status occupational level and continued to struggle with a high prevalence of psychiatric and addiction disorders. Various special education programs have been developed to address learning disabilities. The approach of the Arrowsmith Program is first to distinguish finely between elemental cognitive impairments and then to implement an individualized task-oriented program that challenges the identified deficit. It is thought that these highly targeted cognitive exercises create ways for the brain to provide the necessary functionality for encoding and decoding spoken and written discourse, and for storing, organizing, processing, and integrating knowledge. If this is successful, the child can rejoin his or her peers in normal academic progress. It should be understood that successful graduates of the Arrowsmith Program will require some time to make up for the learning time that was lost due to the original impairment. The developer of the Arrowsmith Program has high expectations for the successful graduates and believes that they will become academically and occupationally competitive.

The study sample


The total number of students followed was 79 (72-6+13), with a male to female ratio of 2 to 1 (53 male, 26 female). All students in the study sample completed at least one year. The majority of students were in the study for two years (62%), and 23 students (29%) were in the study for 3 years. The majority of the students (81%; 64 students) received six 40 minute periods per day of AP cognitive exercises and one 40 minute period each of English and mathematics instruction while 19% (15 students) received eight 40 minute periods per day of AP cognitive exercises and no academic instruction.

characteristics such as age, gender or IQ. Furthermore, the rate of improvement was not dependent on the type of impairment at intake. All deficit areas identified by the Arrowsmith Program improved as a result of the application of Arrowsmith Program cognitive exercises. A specificity of effect was found suggesting that the cognitive exercises could be directly linked to performance improvement. Moreover, students who through specific cognitive exercises improved with respect to AP cognitive functions also improved on related achievement tests. In the study sample, the cognitive deficits tended to be multidimensional, and there was no clear pattern of combinations of deficits. In other words, a given AP student was likely to have more than one deficit and his or her combination tended to be specific to the student. This study, combined with previous research of the program, strongly supports the effectiveness of the Arrowsmith Program for a wide spectrum of learning problems. These results provide hope for parents and teachers, and open up opportunities for children struggling with learning difficulties.

From the Executive Summary of the 2005 study


The results were informative and encouraging. The amount of improvement was slightly dependent on intake severity level (the number of performance problem areas on intake). The rate of improvement varied from one year to three years, and was dependent on initial severity. The amount and rate of improvement were not dependent on other baseline

Summary and Conclusion of the 2005 Outcome Evaluation


Previous research on the Arrowsmith Program has supported its effectiveness in broad terms. The present study funded by the Donner Canadian Foundation provides specific answers to important questions about why and how the AP cognitive exercises are effective. 1. For whom is the Arrowsmith Program most effective? ANSWER: All but 2 out of the 79 students did improve. The 2 students who did not improve were not distinguishable from other students in their pattern of test results at intake a. Are some impairments irreparable? ANSWER: all AP cognitive functions improved through AP cognitive exercises b. Does it depend on student characteristics (age, gender, IQ)? ANSWER: age, gender, and IQ (controlling for intake severity) were not related to improvement. 2. What affects the rate of improvement? ANSWER: rate of improvement depended primarily on the extent of impairment on intake the number of performance problem areas a. Is it related to the type of impairment at intake? ANSWER: rate of improvement was not related to any specific functional deficit b. Is it related to other student characteristics (age, gender, IQ)? ANSWER: rate of improvement was not related to age, gender or starting IQ 3. Are performance problems identifiable in terms of AP cognitive functions? ANSWER: Since a specific cognitive impairment can effect more than one academic performance area, identification requires testing for specific impairments and cannot be based on performance on achievement tests 4. Can exercises be directly linked to performance improvement? ANSWER: There is a specificity of effect. Students who, through specific exercises, improve with respect to AP cognitive functions also improve on related achievement tests.

arrowsmithschool.org

Arrowsmith PROGRAM
Strengthening Learning Capacities

2003 REPORT ON THE ARROWSMITH PROGRAM IN THE TORONTO CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD
prepared by Dr. William J. Lancee, Ph. D.
The 2005 study followed an earlier study also prepared by Dr. Lancee of a group of students in the Arrowsmith Program in the Toronto Catholic District School Board which offers the Arrowsmith Program in seven elementary schools across Toronto. The following excerpts are taken from an abridged version of the 2003 study which is titled Report on the TCDSB Study of the Arrowsmith Program for Learning Disabilities that was released on January 22, 2003.

Objective
At the beginning of 2001, the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) enrolled 30 students (grade 2 to grade 7, from 4 schools) in the Arrowsmith Program (AP). These students were identified by the TCDSB as having learning disabilities. All 30 students were below the age-adjusted 33%-tile in at least one of the three subtests of the Wide Range Achievement Test 3 (WRAT3) - (i) spelling, (ii) timed arithmetic, and (iii) word recognition. Twenty seven students scored below 15%tile in at least one of these tasks - that is, lower than 85% of other students at the same age. An additional 10 learning disabled students from a fifth TCDSB school were assessed over the school year but were not enrolled in the AP. It was the intention that these students would function as a comparison group.

on task; understanding ideas; legibility of written work; confidence; self-esteem; and ability to self-advocate. Between 70% and 80% of students were seen as having improved in: telling time; remembering factual information; listening skills; organizational skills; and understanding and following instructions. The correlation between improved comprehension as seen by teachers correlated highly with the Relative Progress GE scores (Pearson r = 0.49; p<0.01).

From the Conclusion of the 2003 study


Despite some study design limitations and small sample size, the study results strongly support the Arrowsmith Program as instrumental in changing the developmental course of the majority of children with LD in this sample. In only 12 months, almost one third of the AP students were on a course that brought them closer to their peers. Another 27% improved their performance at the same rate as expected from their nonLD peers, that is, they stayed at the same distance but did not fall further behind. All other AP students (43%) improved at least somewhat on the various achievement tests. None of the 10 students in the comparison group progressed substantially beyond their entry status.

Relationship between improvements and satisfaction


The 30 AP students, their parents and teachers completed a 24 item satisfaction questionnaire. Improvements were seen by at least 2 raters (teacher and student; student and parent; or teacher and parent) in more than 80% of students in the following areas: reading comprehension; ability to focus

2004 EATON CASE STUDIES


Eaton Arrowsmith School in Vancouver was established in 2005 by Howard Eaton and is modelled after Arrowsmith School in Toronto. Howard Eaton has a psychology degree from the University of British Columbia and a Masters in Education from Boston University specializing in Special Education and Assessment. He is currently completing his Ph. D. in neuropsychology. Over the last 13 years Howard Eaton has been involved in conducting psycho-educational assessments, training teachers at both public and private schools across the Lower Mainland, writing curriculum on Self-Advocacy and Transition Planning and teaching at the University of British Columbia as a Sessional Instructor for the Faculty of Educational Psychology and Special Education. The Arrowsmith website contains the results of case studies of students who had been enrolled in the Arrowsmith Program that were conducted by Howard Eaton in 2004. Three Arrowsmith students were pre-tested and then post-tested on the Woodcock Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Abilities and Achievement after one, two and three years in the Arrowsmith Program. The significance of these findings led Howard Eaton to establish Eaton Arrowsmith School. Howard Eaton has subsequently

replicated these results with a number of students at Eaton Arrowsmith School and is currently writing a book which will include these further results. The following improvements were observed: faster cognitive efficiency improved working memory improved visual-motor integration improved visual-perceptual functioning improved auditory processing for speech sounds and discourse improved semantic knowledge improved achievement skills

TORONTO CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD LEARNING DISABILITIES PROGRAM REVIEW


The Arrowsmith Program was first offered outside Arrowsmith School in the Toronto Catholic District School Board where there are now seven schools across Toronto that offer the Arrowsmith Program. In 2004 the TCDSB completed a report on students with learning disabilities in the Board. There are 3,400 students within the Board identified as having a learning disability and the report is a comprehensive review of learning disabilities programs offered to elementary school students within the Board. This report was presented to the Special Education Advisory Committee of the Toronto Catholic District School Board on November 24, 2004.

The Report with respect to the Arrowsmith Program concluded:


The Arrowsmith program has had a statistically significant impact on most processing measures [including WISC IV Processing Speed Index and Working Memory Index] and one reading measure. Effect size analyses indicate that gains were achieved on the Processing Speed measure and on the WJ Pair Cancellation measure. Gains were also achieved on three of the phonological measures. On most measures, students maintained relative standing with their peers.

arrowsmithschool.org

Arrowsmith PROGRAM
Strengthening Learning Capacities

A REPORT ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE ARROWSMITH PROGRAM IN THE TORONTO CATHOLIC DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD
The Arrowsmith Program was first implemented in the TCDSB in 1997 at St. Patrick Catholic Secondary School and currently is implemented in seven elementary schools in the TCDSB. This report which was prepared by Arrowsmith Program tracked the progress of students in the Arrowsmith Program in the TCDSB on standardized achievement measures, on the amount of resource support needed pre the Arrowsmith Program and post the Arrowsmith Program, on reports from parents, teachers and students of specific observable cognitive and academic gains, and on reports from teachers, students and parents of the success these students have attained in high school and post secondary programs. This report was released on January 25, 2007.

Conclusion
The goal of the Arrowsmith Program is to identify, intervene, and strengthen several of the cognitive capacities underlying learning disabilities that affect learning and the acquisition of academic skills and curriculum and to help students capitalize on their increased learning capacities and eventually reintegrate them into the full curriculum. In this report on the effectiveness of the Arrowsmith Program in achieving the above goals with learning disabled students in the TCDSB the following was found: on a sample of 120 learning disabled students there was an increase in the rate of acquisition of specific academic skills (Word Recognition, Arithmetic, Reading Comprehension, Reading Speed) of between 1.5 to 3 times meaning that students who were acquiring these academic skills at the rate of of a year per year prior to Arrowsmith began to learn at the rate of 1 to 2 years per year after Arrowsmith; parents, students and teachers observed and rated noticeable changes in cognitive abilities necessary for learning such as the ability to focus, understanding instructions, listening skills, organizational skills, remembering factual information, understanding ideas, clarity of thinking and in skill acquisition such as reading comprehension, legibility of written work, telling time and in areas of confidence, self-esteem and frustration level; students observed and noted specific changes in auditory memory, visual memory, comprehension, reading, spelling, mathematics, mental math, reasoning, writing, grammar, understanding concepts, improved grades in academic classes, doing work independently, being able to complete homework and self-organization; teachers observed and noted specific changes in reading, writing, logical reasoning, understanding concepts, concentration and focus, visual memory, non-verbal problem solving, mental arithmetic, number sense, thinking and problem solving; a very significant reduction in the amount of resource support required after the student left the Arrowsmith Program (100% of students prior to Arrowsmith received resource support in comparison to 31% after Arrowsmith and in many cases this post Arrowsmith support consisted of having time limits removed from exams or a quiet room within which to write an exam which we counted as resource support even though it did not require teacher resources); a significant reduction in the amount of resource support required while the student was in the Arrowsmith Program; success in high school and post secondary programs with no or minimal resource support.

The above findings, combined with previous research of the program, strongly support the effectiveness of the Arrowsmith Program for a wide range of learning disabilities. This report can be read on the www.arrowsmithschool.org website and along with the statistical analysis contains many reports of observable changes from students, parents and teachers.

Arrowsmith
Strengthening Learning Capacities

PROGRAM
Ability to learn and produce a written sequence of symbols

CHART OF LEARNING DYSFUNCTIONS AND OUTCOMES


Learning Outcomes Improve handwriting; reduce careless errors in written work; develop fine motor skills, sequential motor memory and motor planning in writing, capacity for hand-eye coordination Develop ability to read a clock; improve capacity necessary for understanding relationships between concepts necessary for logical and mathematical reasoning and reading comprehension affecting all aspects of curriculum and life Develop auditory memory and the capacity to remember and follow oral instructions and retain information for learning; improve the capacity to remember chunks of information in the correct order Improve the capacity to remember a sentence of increasing difficulty and length; improve the ability to put information into own words; develop the capacity for the sense of how symbols (words and numbers) interconnect sequentially; improve the ability to follow procedures in mathematics; develop the ability to write and speak in complete sentences Develop/improve the capacity for sound-symbol correspondence; develop the phonemic memory necessary for the phonetic aspect of reading; develop the ability to pronounce multi-syllabic words correctly; develop the ability to read with greater oral expression

Cognitive Area

Description of Common Features if there Cognitive Function is a problem in this area: Messy handwriting, miscopying, irregular spelling, speech rambling, careless written errors in mathematics, poor written performance

Motor Symbol Sequencing

Symbol Relations

Ability to understand the relationships among two or more ideas or concepts

Difficulty with reading comprehension, trouble with mathematical reasoning, trouble with logical reasoning, difficulty reading an analog clock, problem understanding cause and effect, reversals of b-d; p-q (younger students and in more severe cases) Trouble remembering oral instructions, difficulty following lectures or extended conversations, problem acquiring information through listening

Memory for Information/ Instructions

Ability to remember chunks of auditory information

Predicative Speech

Ability to see how words and numbers interconnect sequentially into fluent sentences and procedures

Problem putting information into ones own words, speaking in incomplete sentences, difficulty using internal speech to work out consequences, trouble following long sentences, breakdown of steps in mathematical procedures

Brocas Speech Pronunciation

Ability to learn to pronounce syllables and then integrate them into the stable and consistent pronunciation of a word

Mispronouncing words, avoiding using words because of uncertainty of pronunciation, limited ability to learn and use phonics, difficulty learning foreign languages, difficulty thinking and talking at the same time, flat and monotone speech with lack of rhythm and intonation

Cognitive Area

Description of Common Features if there Cognitive Function is a problem in this area: Ability to develop and maintain plans and strategies through the use of language Problem being self-directed and selforganized in learning, limited mental initiative, difficulty keeping attention relevantly oriented to the demands of a task necessary for completion, difficulty thinking, planning, problem solving, trouble seeing the main point

Learning Outcomes Develop/improve the ability to grasp the main point of written or orally presented material; develop the ability to state the main idea of a selection using ones own words; develop the ability to maintain plans and strategies for problem solving; develop the capacity to express ideas more clearly in writing; develop the capacity to selfdirect, to develop initiative and to remain focused on tasks to completion Develop/improve the capacity to visually recognize and remember words or symbols necessary for reading, spelling and mathematics Improve vocabulary development and auditory memory for words

Symbolic Thinking

Symbol Recognition

Ability to visually recognize and remember a word or symbol Ability to remember several unrelated words

Poor word recognition, slow reading, difficulty with spelling, trouble remembering symbol patterns such as mathematical or chemical equations Problems with associative memory, trouble following auditory information, trouble learning names of things such as animals, places, people, colors, days of the week Problem interpreting non-verbal information such as body language, facial expression and voice tone, weak social skills, difficulty perceiving and interpreting ones own emotions, difficulty thinking, planning, problem solving non-verbally

Lexical Memory

Artifactual Thinking

Ability to register and interpret nonverbal information and plan and problem solve nonverbally

Develop the capacity for nonverbal thinking and problemsolving; develop the ability to interpret body language, facial expression and voice tone and to respond appropriately in interpersonal interactions; develop ability to interpret and modulate his/her own emotions Develop the capacity for number sense; develop the capacity for carrying out internal sequential mental computation of addition and subtraction; develop the ability to use time wisely through scheduling and organization; develop an understanding of quantification related to money, time, space

Supplementary Motor

Ability to carry out internal sequential mental operations, such as mental mathematics

Finger counting, trouble retaining numbers in ones head, difficulty making change, problem learning math facts, poor sense of time management, difficulty with time signature in music

AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION POSTER SESSIONS


The following extracts from technical papers were presented in peer reviewed poster sessions at conventions of the American Psychological Association by Barbara Young, M.A. and Donald F. Burrill, Ph. D.

From Correlates of a Test of Motor Symbol Sequencing Performance (105th APA Annual Conference at Chicago on August 15, 1997)

ABSTRACT
This study investigated the relationship between a test developed to measure the rate of learning a repeated sequence of symbols as an automatic motor pattern and standardized tests of writing and copying. Performance on the motor symbol sequencing test, for a group of 12 learning disabled individuals and a control group of 35 adults, correlated significantly with standardized tests of copying and handwriting. Performance on the test significantly discriminated between the two groups.

From Treatment Outcome for a Motor Symbol Sequencing Dysfunction (108th APA Annual Conference at Washington, D.C. on August 7, 2000)

ABSTRACT
This study investigated the relationship between a treatment program designed to train automatic written motor symbol sequences for a group of 12 learning disabled individuals having difficulty with the writing process and outcome measures on a test developed to measure the rate of learning a repeated sequence of symbols as an automatic motor pattern and standardized tests of writing and copying. Significant positive changes were found from pre- to post-treatment testing on all measures.

Summary
Performance on the motor symbol sequencing test, for the control group alone, and the control group combined with the learning disabled group, correlated significantly with standardized tests of copying and handwriting. The correlations were less significant in the learning disabled group, due in part to the smaller sample size and in part to the restriction of the range in the variables under investigation for this group. This preliminary evidence with a small sample suggests that a test of learning a motor symbol sequence discriminates between a group identified as learning disabled and a control group.

Summary
At least for individuals identified as having certain specific difficulties with the writing process, the treatment program described in this paper appears to have improved subjects performance on tests of learning a symbol sequence, clerical speed and accuracy, handwriting, and copying. Lexical memory and left-handed reaction time appear not to have been affected by the treatment; right-handed reaction time showed a small improvement, which may be a result of using the right hand to perform the treatment exercises.

Arrowsmith
Strengthening Learning Capacities

PROGRAM

arrowsmithschool.org
Arrowsmith Program 245 St. Clair Avenue West Toronto, ON M4V 1R3 Telephone 416 963-4962 Facsimile 416 963-8464 email info@arrowsmithprogram.ca

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Arrowsmith Program Inc.