By the Numbers
Mission: "The primary purpose of the Gow School is to maintain and operate an independent, not-for-profit school for the education of students, grades 7-12, using college-preparatory curriculum with emphasis on the remediation of dyslexia and related language-based learning difficulties through Reconstructive Language."
Students describe how Gow helped them
Target Students: The school specializes in serving students with dyslexia and
related language-based learning disabilities.
Students often have attention (ADD or ADHD) and/or executive function difficulties, dyspraxia, CAPD (central auditory processing disorder), dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.
Dyslexia Accommodation: Founded in 1926, Gow claims to have been the first school for dyslexia in the US. For reading, the school uses a home grown program called Reconstructive Language (RL) which was developed by the school's founder Peter Gow with guidance from Dr. Samuel Orton, who co-developed the Orton-Gillingham system.
The RL program is described as: multisensory, sequential/logical, systematic, synthetic/analytic, and diagnostic. The program works to improve skills in phonics, spelling, vocabulary, oral reading, fluency and comprehension.
Part of the Gow curriculum includes weekly 45 minute Executive Function Coaching sessions. With the aid of an Executive Function Coach, students work on their organization, time management and planning skills as well as discussing their individual learning styles and self advocacy.
Teacher Training: Gow’s Reconstructive Language program meets the International Dyslexia Association's "Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading", though it's not clear to us if this is a formal accreditation or a self assessment by the school.
Gow's teacher preparation program on the other hand, is definitely formally accredited by The International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council, which requires a supervised teaching practicum.
Student Teacher Ratio: 4:1
Assistive Technology: Gow is definitely making an exceptional effort to integrate assistive tech directly into the curriculum:
"It (tech) is... integrated throughout the curriculum and the campus, providing a unified platform that allows teachers and students to connect seamlessly"
Gow supplies its students with laptops pre-loaded with assistive software and formally instructs them on its use, including speech to text and text to speech appliations. Smartboards are also employed in the classrooms.
Financial Support: A total of $828,800 was awarded for the 2013-14 school year, with 26% of families being offered aid. The average award was $21,400. Financial aid decisions are made by Gow's Admissions and Financial Aid Committee.
Based on information available we have scored the school in six areas of importance to prospective parents and students.
1) Given the limitations of information available to us, the scores
may not accurately represent the school. School administrators or informed
parents and students are welcome to contact us with additional
information and we will update the scorecard accordingly.
2) Scoring is based on specific dyslexic student needs, not on an absolute scale of school quality.
The Gow School is currently the only school to receive a perfect mark on the DRW scorecard, excelling in every area that we consider to be important for dyslexic students.
The school is not cheap, perhaps out of reach for many, and it's location in a rural area outside Buffalo is not ideal for day
students, but beyond those limitations we can't imagine a better
environment for dyslexic students.
And regarding the cost, keep in mind that it is a boarding school and that the tuition itself, though still high, is comparable to similar schools. GOW also offers very substantial financial aid for some students, so don't dismiss applying based on the big price tag alone.
Gow was likely the first dedicated school in the US for dyslexics and today is definitely one of the most elite schools in our list. The low student teacher ratio, teacher certification and dedication to integrating tech helps ensure a very positive experience if you're lucky enough to attend.
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