Our History

Benchmark School was founded in 1970 by Irene W. Gaskins, Ed.D. as a small, part-time program with borrowed classroom space. Under her guidance, it grew into a full-time, independent school, situated on 23-acres in Media, Pennsylvania. Irene Gaskins stepped down as Head of School in 2007, when Robb Gaskins, Ph.D., a former professor in reading education at the University of Kentucky, took over as Head of School.
Robb Gaskins is committed to continuing Benchmark's emphasis on research-based, individualized instruction. Consequently, this tradition remains a fundamental component of a Benchmark School education.
Benchmark School administrators and faculty are frequent presenters at local, state, and international conferences on best teaching practices. Benchmark also is proud to frequently host visitors from schools around the world who are interested in learning about Benchmark's research-based approach to teaching children who learn differently.

"Irene Gaskins designed Benchmark not only to be a special school for helping struggling readers, but she also wanted it to be a laboratory for designing instruction that works for all students."   —Tim Rasinsky, Ph.D., Professor of Literacy Education, Kent State University
Benchmark is accredited by the Pennsylvania Association of Independent School (PAIS), which is a member in good standing of the National Association of Independent School's (NAIS) Commission on Accreditation.
"Benchmark has perfected its instructional model over a 45-year period and yet continues to refine it and extend it. All struggling learners should be taught so well and so intensively."    —Dick Allington, Ph.D., Professor of Literacy Studies, University of Tennessee; Member, International Reading Association's Hall of Fame
"Through small classes, individualized instruction, supportive relationships, and on-going assessment of students’ needs and abilities, Benchmark teachers foster students’ development of self-confidence and learning strategies essential for academic success. Through participation in continuous professional development, teachers employ current, research-based pedagogical methods designed to support their students’ learning."     
—Richard Beach, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota & Former President, Literacy Research Association