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The Benchmark Approach

A teacher stands at a board teaching word identification

The Benchmark Approach is a unique way of teaching children with dyslexia, executive function skills challenges, ADHD/ADD, auditory and visual processing differences, and other language-based learning differences.

Developed and refined over decades of research and hands-on experience, the Benchmark Approach teaches children how to be critical, analytical thinkers with excellent emotional, social, and decision-making skills.

The Benchmark Approach is intentional, reflective, supportive, and teaches the whole child. Our approach meets children where they are, and creates personalized instruction for each student. We use an array of tools and strategies—honed over more than fifty years—to scaffold student success.


Everything we do in the classroom is the result of deliberate intention.

Benchmark’s instructional practice is rooted in academic research and collaboration with experts in the field, and is continually refined by practice.

At Benchmark, we get to know each student’s particular needs. We develop personalized instruction and support strategies that meet every student where they are, and then provide the right level of challenge to help them grow as learners.

We draw on a combination of our research-based foundations, our proven practice, and our deep expertise to make adjustments and refinements to promote individual student growth, month-by-month, and day-by-day.


When you speak to a Benchmark student, they will tell you that they are well-versed in the art of educational reflection. Reflection—on planning, on process, successes and challenges, and on one’s self as a learner—is part of our daily practice.

Reflection builds growth.

In every subject area, we reflect: Why are we learning this? What’s the big idea? Our questions are open-ended, and we construct knowledge.

Working together, teachers and students reflect holistically on what works well for each learner, and we celebrate successes.

Our reflections are not confined to academics. We also guide students to reflect on themselves as learners. When our students become knowledgeable about their own learning style, they are empowered to become self-advocates.

Self-advocacy is a skill that Benchmark students carry with them into their high school years and beyond.


Students feel motivated when they feel successful. We start with the student where they are, and apply scaffolding as needed. We take the time to teach students how to learn.

How to Learn

The content is a tool to teach students process.

The process we want students to learn is how they learn. 

The ultimate goal is self-regulation.

Benchmark students come to know themselves as learners: how to get the help they need and how to capitalize on their strengths.

At Benchmark School, a critical key to our success is providing students with the tools and strategies they need to be successful learners. These tools and strategies are woven into our educational culture.

With guidance, our students learn where and when to apply their personalized strategies to achieve success. As students gain strategies that facilitate their learning in one content area, they quickly learn to apply those strategies to other content areas, deepening their competence and confidence overall.

Reinforcement of strategies occurs over the course of the school day, the school year, and cumulative years.

Reinforcement is continual exposure to and practice with strategies multiple times, with multiple teachers, across multiple subjects. Strategy reinforcement enables students to make discoveries and practice what they’ve learned, establishing lifelong educational habits.


We like to say that tools and strategies open the door to content. Benchmark’s collection of tools and strategies have been honed over our decades of hands-on experience. Benchmark’s array of tools and strategies encompass techniques to support students with their learning differences. 


A Benchmark education is transformative.

Our classroom practice is paired with a deep and holistic commitment to helping children develop strong emotional, social, and decision-making skills.

Building executive function skills—such as how to plan, how to organize, how to hold focus, how to be persistent, and how to regulate emotions—has been a core part of our Benchmark Approach from the time of our founding.

Executive function skills, including instruction in how to be a self-regulated learner, begins when students first enter Benchmark, and is taught in an upward spiral with increasingly more sophisticated tasks, texts, and environmental factors as the student’s self-knowledge and beliefs evolve.

Beyond classroom supports, our in-house team of psychologists and counselors partner with students and families to support social and emotional development. Student support is integrated throughout the school day, and includes speech and language therapy, individual and group counseling, a weekly class delivering social/emotional instruction, regular consultations with classroom instructors, and one-on-one meetings with students to support their learning.

How the Benchmark Approach Enables Student Success

The Benchmark Approach is intentional.
The Benchmark Approach is reflective.
The Benchmark Approach is supportive.
The Benchmark Approach teaches the whole child.


Benchmark School is a one-of-a-kind place, not only because of its mission, but because of the way it goes about pursuing it. Instead of relying on an endless arsenal of carrots and sticks, Benchmark taps students’ innate desire to learn, which helps them develop persistence, creativity, and other capacities crucial to their future success.

Daniel H. Pink
New York Times Bestselling Author