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


The WIU employs speech language pathologists who are certified through The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and licensed through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of State to provide researched-based services to the students within the Westmoreland County non-public schools.  Certification and licensure through these organizations require ongoing continuing education with specific coursework in professional development. 

Various programs provide speech and language intervention to K-12 students in non-public schools.  Included are Act 89 support and EP services.  Upon a formal request, Act 89 screenings will be completed to determine communication needs, if any, as well as the level of intervention necessary for each qualifying student.  It should be noted that these screenings are not evaluations to determine eligibility for special education.  Students with more severe speech impairments may need a more comprehensive evaluation in which written permission will be obtained from parents and input will be gathered from team members by the requesting non-public school before the initiation of formal student testing.   

The service models provided by the speech and language pathologists during school hours include the following: 

  • Pull-out speech sessions – traditional therapy of determined length completed in a therapy room in an individual or small group setting which provides more intensive intervention to students whose communication needs may be affecting their performance with academics in the classroom
  • Push-in speech sessions – therapy completed within the educational setting/classroom environment with school personnel present to promote carryover of skills and techniques in addition to addressing communication challenges that may not benefit from the pull-out model of intervention
  • 5-Minute speech program – therapy for students may include correct sound production of a single or few speech sounds, language and fluency skills, and any other communication need requiring monitoring and maintenance of skill carryover.  This program is completed in a 1:1 format with numerous practice opportunities quickly, thereby limiting the time pulled from the classroom. This may decrease the need for makeup work/tests and/or disruptions of their class schedule.
  • Whole classroom push-in sessions – the focus is on early learners in the kindergarten program for an all-student instruction that supports targeted communication, including articulation, language, and pre-reading skills.  This increases overall communication within the class while supporting the needs of students who are already receiving services.  Additionally, school personnel benefit from staff education and increased opportunities for carryover of techniques within the classroom environment which may decrease the need for more intensive intervention. 

Communication areas that may be addressed per delays or disorders during speech intervention include: 

  • Articulation & phonological disorders –placement/production of speech sounds 
  • Expressive language –an expression of thoughts, wants, and needs
  • Receptive language –knowledge, understanding, and processing of information
  • Stuttering – disfluencies such as prolongations, part/whole word repetitions, hesitations/blocks, etc., as well as accessory behaviors including tension, struggle, and fear
  • Voice disorders – difficulties with pitch, volume, tone, and other vocal qualities such as resonance or hoarseness.  Before any intervention related to voice issues, an evaluation by a medical professional such as an ENT is recommended to rule out any physical problems which may impede and result in speech therapy being counterproductive.  
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.

Westmoreland Intermediate Unit Non-Public School Psychological Services are provided to assist non-public schools in educating students who experience academic and/or behavioral difficulties.  WIU7 provides evaluations and reevaluations for the non-public schools in Westmoreland County.  Services may include the following:

Psycho-educational Evaluation:
An evaluation aims to determine the child’s educational strengths, needs, and exceptionality/educational disability as defined by PA Department of Education criteria.  The multidisciplinary evaluation may consist of:  An individual test of intelligence, an individual test of achievement, a developmental history form completed by the parent/guardian, teacher/school input, an observation(s), rating scales (i.e., social, emotional, behavioral, adaptive), and a review of records (i.e., group/individual assessment scores, progress monitoring data, current educational supports, health records, attendance, grades, independent evaluations).  A comprehensive report will be shared with the non-public school, the parent/guardian, and Act 89 support staff as deemed appropriate.  Recommendations may include accommodations, modifications, instructional strategies, and educational resources.

Psycho-educational Reevaluation:  Students who meet criteria based on one of the IDEA disability categories are reevaluated tri-annually, with parent/guardian permission.  Students who are identified under the disability category of an Intellectual Disability are reevaluated bi-annually.  The purpose of a reevaluation is to determine a student’s continued eligibility and to provide any additional recommendations to meet the student's best needs. * Eligible Non-Public schools can request the Psychological Evaluation Referral forms and submit completed referral paperwork to Jennifer Burkardt, School Psychologist, at [email protected].  Interested parents should contact the designated school principal for more information regarding the evaluation process.

Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA): If significant behaviors impede a student’s learning, a Functional Behavioral Assessment may be conducted as part of an evaluation or through consultation for individual student concerns. The school psychologist can assist in conducting observations and collecting data regarding specific behaviors the student displays within the school setting.  Once the data is collected, the school psychologist can assist the team in creating a Positive Behavior Support Plan to address the targeted behavior(s).

Consultation services may be requested to determine strategies and resources:
Individual Student Concerns - The school psychologist may collaborate with teachers, administrators, and/or parents to identify and define a student's concern.  The school psychologist can observe the student, consult with teachers, and provide academic and/or behavioral recommendations.  The school psychologist can also assist schools in developing PAS/educational support plans, following psycho-educational evaluations.
Classroom Management - The school psychologist may assist in supporting teachers in creating a structured, positive learning environment using a positive behavior support approach and a positive school climate.  The school psychologist may collaborate with classroom teachers to help them identify classroom-based concerns and implement data-based interventions.
Professional Development - The school psychologist may assist the Westmoreland Intermediate Unit Team in providing educational information/resources in informal (i.e., staff meetings) and formal settings (i.e., professional development presentation).  

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.