Fred Rogers Room

Non-Public School Services

Contact:  Jason Stragand at 724-219-2390 or [email protected]
ACT 89 was established in 1974 by the state of Pennsylvania to provide auxiliary services to students enrolled in nonprofit non-public schools.  Act 89 programs are administered by Intermediate Units following regulations and procedures of the Department of Education and the Public School Code of Pennsylvania.  The program of services is determined by:
  • those already offered in the school district in which the non-public school is located;
  • student need based on consultation with the Intermediate Unit and the non-public administrators, teachers, students, and parents;
  • budgetary allocations; and
  • supply of qualified personnel, materials, and equipment.
The role of the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit Non-public School Program is to provide supplemental services to students in regular education programs.  The program may not provide special education programs for students who are officially identified nor may ACT 89 services be presented or perceived as a substitute for special education placement.  Students identified as exceptional prior to entrance in a non-public school, however, may be enrolled in ACT 89 programs as long as they benefit from the program and time is available for instruction.
Eligible students are Pennsylvania residents parentally placed in qualifying nonprofit K-12 schools on a full-time basis.  The following students are not funded by ACT 89 and, subsequently, are not eligible for non-public education services:
  • preschool students
  • home schooled students
  • students whose primary residence is outside of Pennsylvania
  • students for whom tuition is paid by the Commonwealth
Program of Auxiliary Services for Nonpublic School Students
Auxiliary services include guidance, counseling and standardized-testing services, psychological services, services for exceptional children, remedial services, speech and hearing services, services for the improvement of the educationally disadvantaged (such as, but not limited to, teaching English as a second language), and other secular, neutral, non-ideological services of a supplementary and remedial nature.  ACT 89 is a state-funded service that is provided directly to the local intermediate unit to students enrolled in a nonprofit private school who participate and share their enrollment through the Private Non-Public School Enrollment portal.  Through a meaningful and timely consultation with all non-public school administration, the program of services is determined.  These are not services that would carry an individualized entitlement for students but, rather, are provided subject to limitations of funding appropriated annually in the state budget.
A full description of Auxiliary Services and the regulations governing service delivery can be found at Chapter 112 - Auxiliary Services for Non-Public School Students.
The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit currently provides the following under ACT 89:
  • Reading Intervention Services
  • Speech and Language Services
  • School Counseling Services
  • Psychological Services
  • Standardized achievement testing and scoring
Listed below are Auxiliary Services provided by the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.

The WIU employs Pennsylvania-certified Reading Specialists trained in Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) and in Orton- Gillingham through the Institute of Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE). The Act 89 Literacy Interventionists provide students in Westmoreland County non-public schools with direct, explicit, and systematic supplemental instruction in reading. 

Depending on student needs, interventions are provided at both Tier 2 and Tier 3 levels of intensity and support.  For students who require remediation at the Tier 2 level, supplemental instruction takes place in a small group setting using materials targeted for developing areas of weakness.  Students in need of Tier 3 interventions are provided supplemental, explicit, systematic, individual instruction that is tailored to their needs.  Frequent progress monitoring is provided at all levels of intervention, and instructional methods are adjusted accordingly.  The goal is to close educational gaps and make significant progress toward grade-level benchmarks.

 Because the classroom is the primary center for instruction, WIU continues to provide professional development, including ongoing support through consultation for classroom teachers and administrators in non-public schools.  In addition, these services are coordinated with Title 1 interventions where appropriate.

Our Focus: The 5 Big Ideas of Reading 

According to the National Reading Panel, the following five big ideas of reading are essential when teaching students to read. They are Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. As Literacy Interventionists, our lessons incorporate each of these components. 

1. Phonemic Awareness is the ability to break spoken words into parts. These smaller units of sound are called phonemes. It is often stated phonemic awareness practice can be done in the dark because it does not involve print.  Research has shown that strong phonemic awareness skills are an indicator of later reading success. More advanced phonemic skills include adding, deleting, and substituting sounds in the beginning, middle, and end of a word. PA falls under the umbrella of Phonological Awareness which includes rhyming, alliteration, and syllables.
2. Phonics is the relationship between letters and the sounds they represent in print. When students have letter identification and sound knowledge of the twenty-six letters in the alphabet, they are able to segment and blend those sounds to read words (decoding). To that end, there are 44 sound/sound units in the English language that can be spelled 250 different ways!
3. Fluency is the ability to recognize words automatically and read with accuracy, prosody (rhythm and intonation), and speed.  Fluency impacts comprehension, so strong decoding skills are imperative. It is often stated that we should read at the rate at which we speak to each other in conversation.   
4. Vocabulary is the understanding of word meaning. Having a strong vocabulary, both oral and reading, will enable greater success with comprehension. Vocabulary instruction may include the study of prefixes, suffixes, and morphemes (the smallest unit of meaning in a word).   
5. Comprehension is the goal of reading: understanding what is read. Making connections with the text and having background knowledge are essential to this understanding. Other examples of comprehension strategies are: summarizing, visualizing, inferring, questioning, and making predictions.   


Screeners and Diagnostic Assessments 
Through screening measures, the Act 89 Literacy Intervention Team collects and analyzes data to determine student need and caseload. This data is used to identify students who may be at risk of struggling with reading. Diagnostic assessments are also used to assess specific components of reading and the individual needs of each student. The results of the diagnostic measures help to determine which specific interventions will be most beneficial to each individual student. Additionally, our team conducts progress monitoring assessments throughout the school year to measure student progress towards a specific goal. 

Examples of assessments that are used by our intervention team may include: 

  • Acadience Learning Online (ALO)
  • IMSE’s Reading Skills and Placement Assessments
  • Phonological Awareness Screening Test (PAST)
  • LETRS Phonics and Word Reading Survey
  • LETRS Spelling Inventory
  • Corrective Reading Placement Assessment
  • Heggerty Bridge the Gap Assessment

Intervention Resources
 Act 89 interventionists use data collected from screening and diagnostic assessments to develop an intervention plan for each student. Resources are chosen to target specific needs for each student. Interventions are not limited to a specific set of resources, but some resources that may be used in intervention include: 

  • Heggerty Phonemic Awareness 
  • Heggerty Bridge to Reading 
  • Isabel Beck’s Word Building 
  • IMSE Orton Gillingham 
  • Deb Glaser’s Morpheme Magic 
  • Corrective Reading 
  • SAVVAS Quick Reads 
  • Florida Center for Reading Research
  • University of Florida Literacy Institute


Westmoreland Intermediate Unit provides Speech and Language services to any K-12 student who exhibits communication impairment which affect their academic achievement.  These students may have disorders/delays in areas such as the following:
  • Articulation speech production
  • Receptive, expressive and/or pragmatic
  • Stuttering
  • Voice
Speech pathologists can screen any student who shows signs of speech impairments.  ACT 89 screenings are not evaluations that determine eligibility for special education; screenings identify the strengths and weaknesses.  Students with severe speech impairments may need a more comprehensive evaluation.  In these situations, the intermediate unit, with parental consent, will formally evaluate the student to determine if a disability exists and if the student is in need of specially designed instruction.
Please click here for Act 89 Speech and Language Screening Launch.
ACT 89 counseling services are provided by the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.  All school counselors are credentialed and committed to providing innovative counseling services for individual students or group of students who need additional support for behavioral, academic, social, and emotional challenges.  The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit provides support for students and include parents/teachers when needed.  The school counselor works as a team with the school staff, parents and the community to create a caring environment where students become healthy, competent, and confident learners.  The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit's school counseling program includes:
  • Individual and small group counseling
  • Classroom instruction
  • Consultation with teachers and parents
  • Referral to community resource services
  • Liaison and advocacy with community resources
To initiate counseling services, please contact your school principal.
The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit Non-public School Psychologists provide a variety of services to assist the school in supporting the needs of diverse learners to increase academic achievement and promote positive behavior and mental health.  These services may include the following:
Psychoeducational Evaluations of students for academic and/or behavior concerns
The purpose of an evaluation conducted by a WIU Non-public School Psychologist is to obtain information about the student's learning, behavior, and/or mental health in order to help the non-public school develop instructional interventions or a positive behavior support plan for the student.  Additionally, the school psychologist can observe the classroom, consult with the classroom teacher, and observe the student to gather the most comprehensive data possible.
Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)
A Functional Behavior Assessment may be conducted during the course of an evaluation or consultation for individual student concerns, in which data will be collected regarding specific behaviors displayed by the student within the school setting.  Subsequently, once the data is collected, a more precise Positive Behavior Support Plan can be created to address the targeted behavior or behaviors.
Consultation services may be requested to determine strategies and resources
  • Individual Student Concerns - Child Centered - The goal is to identify and define a particular student concern with teachers, administrators, and/or parents.  The school psychologist can observe the student, consult with teachers and provide direction and assistance to meet the needs of the student, as well as to help foster an optimal learning environment.  The school psychologist can provide knowledge and resources to help improve student learning and mental health outcomes.  They can also help assist with recommending academic and behavioral interventions as needed.  The school psychologist will communicate with all individuals involved with the student and determine the best way of improving the area of concern.
  • Classroom Management - The school psychologist may coach and support teachers in creating a structured positive learning environment using a positive behavior support approach and positive school climate.  The school psychologist may collaborate with the classroom teachers to help them identify any classroom based concerns and implement data-based interventions.  It is imperative to support implementation of effective instruction and behavior management at the classroom level.
  • Review and assist in analyzing school-wide data - The school psychologist may assist in the interpretation of data that can be utilized by the school to assess overall academic progress and/or systems of positive behavior support.
Professional Development
The school psychologist may provide information in a brief, informal setting, such as a discussion on a topic at a staff meeting, or a more formal presentation on professional development days.  Topics may include (but are not limited to) mental health, student behavior interventions, academic interventions, educational disabilities, and/or data analysis among others.
School psychologists may also provide teachers, administrators, and staff training in:  Teaching and learning strategies and interventions, School-Wide positive behavior support and classroom management, and Crisis prevention and response intervention.
Mental Health Services and Support
The school psychologist will coordinate with community resources and health care providers to provide parents with the necessary behavioral and mental health resources and supports, which in turn provides students with complete, seamless services.
The school psychologist can help promote positive mental health in the school setting (i.e.: provide Youth Mental Health First Aid training for all staff).
Participation in Student Assistance Program (SAP) meetings
As a professional trained in both learning and mental concerns, the school psychologist is a valuable participant of these teams and can provide direction and data analysis, interventions and information about community resources.

Equitable Participation

The reauthorization of IDEA in 2004 and the subsequent 2006 IDEA regulations significantly changed the obligation of States and local education agencies (LEAs) to children with disabilities enrolled by their parents in private elementary and secondary schools. LEAs, in which the private schools are located, conduct child find and provide equitable services to parentally-placed private school children with disabilities.  In Pennsylvania, intermediate units serve as the LEAs for equitable participation.

IDEA mandates that the LEAs (IUs) where the private schools are located, must conduct a thorough and complete child find process to determine the number of parentally-placed children with disabilities attending private elementary schools and secondary schools to calculate the proportionate amount of Federal funds under Part B of the Act that must be spent on parentally-placed private school children with disabilities.  The amount of funds available for equitable participation is based on the total number of children with disabilities who are enrolled in the private schools located in the LEA.

Through timely and meaningful consultation, the nonpublic school administrators of Westmoreland County have elected a consultative service model which means Equitable Participation allocations will be directed toward adding resources to lending libraries, professional development and consultations. 

Equitable Participation Consultants are available to provide technical assistance and professional development for teacher and administrators.  Emphasis is placed on improving education results for children with disabilities. Services include, but are not limited to:

  • Assistive Technology
  • Least Restrictive Environment / Inclusion
  • Secondary Transition Planning
  • Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS):  Literacy / Mathematics / Behavior
  • Youth Mental Health First Aid
  • Functional Behavior Assessments (FBAs)
  • LETRS training
To initiate a professional development or a consultation, please complete the Equitable Participation Launch Form at the top of this section.

The Equitable Participation Lending Library is a portfolio of professional resources and instructional tools that support teachers, administrators and parents.  The lending library resources are delivered directly to your school by the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit.  Resources include:

  • Professional books (special education related) for teachers, administrators and parents
  • Leveled Readers for students in grades 1 - 12, multiple copies per title
  • Math Instructional Resources including manipulatives and calculators
  • ELA Instructional Resources and manipulatives
  • Technology (such as iPads)
To access the Child Find Data Collection Form, click here.