The Learning Center

gateway teacher and students

The Learning Center

Gateway's Academic Engine

The Learning Center reflects Gateway’s philosophy that all students learn differently and the commitment to help a diverse body of students realize their full learning potential. Often described as “the academic engine of the school,” the Learning Center is available to all students who need additional support. This is accomplished through active collaboration and teaming with all faculty members, as well as the provision of classroom/testing accommodations, supports, and services for students with Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs), 504 Plans, Private Evaluation Reports, or Student Success Team Action Plans. The Learning Center also manages the process for identifying students who may need educational testing.


Learning Center Services

The Learning Center is staffed by a Director, Learning (Resource) Specialists, and Instructional Assistants who provide many different services to students.

Supports for Students with Learning Differences

We are qualified to support students with mild to moderate disabilities. We believe in the inclusion of students with identified disabilities in the general education classroom as much as possible, and do not currently offer Special Day Classes (SDC).

Gateway High School provides support to students in their core academic classes and in small elective classes.

Students with learning differences may benefit from one or more of the following services:

  • Collaboration between the student, learning specialist, general education teachers, and other service providers;
  • Classroom accommodations, testing accommodations, assistive technology;
  • Classes co-taught by a teacher and learning specialist;
  • Classes supported by an instructional aide;
  • Learning Skills class 3x/week;
  • Reading Comprehension Intervention Class 3x/week.
Learning Skills Class
  • Learning Skills classes are taught by a Learning Specialist, supported by an Instructional Aide, and meet three times each week. Each class contains 5-8 students in the same grade level. The Learning Skills classes are treated as elective courses, and students receive 5 credits per semester and a letter grade for their class participation.
  • Students in the class learn a variety of study skills such as note taking, organization, memorization, test preparation, and test-taking techniques. They gain an understanding of their own learning strengths and challenges, and work with the learning specialist to find strategies, assistive technologies, and accommodations that match their particular learning profile. As students’ self-awareness grows, they begin to develop and practice self-advocacy skills. Students in Learning Skills classes not only become familiar with, but also help shape their own personal learning plans, including their goals, accommodations, and services.
  • Learning Specialists also pre-teach and re-teach difficult concepts introduced in students’ core academic classes and provide students with opportunities to work on the goals outlined in their IEPs (Individual Education Plans).
Reading Comprehension Class

Students are given a Reading Comprehension test (Scholastic Reading Inventory) at the end of the school year. Those performing well below grade level are given a more thorough 45-minute individual reading assessment (Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark Assessment) and if necessary participate in our Reading Comprehension elective class. Students with similar reading abilities are placed into the same class, and instruction is designed according to their reading level. The class consists of oral reading, silent reading, reading comprehension strategy instruction, vocabulary instruction, and fluency instruction at the students’ instructional levels. Each class is comprised of 3-6 students and meets 3 times per week.

Reading Skills Class

If a student’s word identification skills are at the 3rd grade level or below, they are enrolled into a Reading Skills class, taught by a Wilson Reading Certified Instructor.  The instructor uses a highly systematic, multisensory, research-based approach to improve word identification skills for students lacking basic word reading skills.  Each class is comprised of 3-6 students and meets 3 times per week.  

Determination of Eligibility for Special Education Services

Gateway High School uses a Response to Intervention (RtI) model to identify students who may have learning challenges due to a disability.

  • Advisors monitor students’ progress in their classes to ensure that students are achieving and meeting expected outcomes and identify those who may need additional support.
  • When a student is identified, the Student Success Team (SST) comprised of the student, his or her family member(s), the Advisor, General Education teacher(s), the Director of the Learning Center, and/or other Administrative staff, work together to discuss a student’s strengths and areas of concern and recommend interventions and accommodations that become part of an Action Plan.
  • The student’s advisor works with the Director of the Learning Center or other administrator to ensure that the Action Plan is implemented and results are tracked and analyzed for progress.
  • The Student Success Team may meet again to adjust the action plan as necessary.
  • The Student Success Team may conclude that a referral to San Francisco Unified School District for a psycho-educational evaluation is appropriate.

If appropriate, SFUSD conducts a psycho-educational assessment and shares results with the IEP team. The Team determines whether or not the student is eligible to receive Special Education Services.

Testing Support

Extended time and alternative assessment environments are coordinated through the Learning Center.


Gateway’s Learning Center is equipped with a variety of assistive technology tools. Gateway High has a Learning Ally membership, giving students with learning differences free access to over 80,000 audiobooks (textbooks and literature titles.) Our Learning Center iPads are equipped with several assistive technology apps. For example, the Dragon Dictate app translates speech to text, and Inspiration 9, used to create concept maps, is especially effective for visual learners. It is a great tool for organizing ideas before beginning a rough draft.

Students who have great difficulty taking notes and completing written assignments due to grapho-motor deficits may request access to a ChromeBook in their Humanities classes. Students can also request access to Typing Pal, which is a web-based program designed to build keyboarding skills.

Applying for Standardized Test Accommodations

Becoming eligible for accommodations on the PSAT, SAT, or AP exams involves submitting an application form to the College Board. The College Board makes their decision based on the following evidence:

Students must have documentation of their disability, such as a current psychoeducational evaluation or a report from a doctor. The type of documentation needed depends on the student’s disability and the accommodations being requested.

  • The student must demonstrate the need for the specific accommodation requested. For example, students requesting extended time should have documentation showing that they have difficulty performing timed tasks, such as testing under timed conditions.
  • The disability must result in a relevant functional limitation. In other words, it must impact the student’s ability to participate in College Board exams. For example, students whose disabilities result in functional limitations in the following areas may need accommodations:
    • Reading
    • Writing
    • Sitting for extended periods
  • With few exceptions, students who request an accommodation on College Board exams receive that accommodation on tests that they take in school. However, students who receive an accommodation in school or have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan that includes the accommodation do not automatically qualify for the accommodation on College Board exams.

Once the College Board receives the application, it usually takes about six weeks to receive a letter in the mail approving or denying the accommodations being requested. For additional information, please visit “College Board Services for Students with Disabilities.” 

The requirements for receiving accommodations on the ACT exam are similar to those required by the College Board. However, requesting accommodations on the ACT is a completely separate process. For more information please visit “ACT Test Accommodations for Students with Disabilities.”