The Arrowsmith Program.


In 2011, Bridgeway became one of three schools in the metro Atlanta area to offer the Arrowmith Program. A cognitive program for students with learning disabilities, Arrowsmith is based on neuroscience research and over 30 years of experience demonstrating that it is possible for students to strengthen the weak cognitive capacities underlying their learning dysfunctions through a program of specific cognitive exercises.

The Arrowsmith Program identifies, intervenes and strengthens the weak cognitive capacities that affect learning.  Students are able to capitalize on their increased learning capacities and after a three or four year program can function without special education assistance or program accommodations. Upon completion of the program some students may require one to two years to gain experience using their newly strengthened cognitive capacities and some students may need tutoring initially to bring academic skills to grade level given the limited amount of time within the program to address academic skill deficits.

The Arrowsmith Program is suitable for students across the broad spectrum of mild to severe learning problems and has proven effective for students having difficulty with reading, writing and mathematics, comprehension, logical reasoning, problem solving, visual and auditory memory, non-verbal learning, attention, processing speed and dyslexia. For an overview of the more common problems addressed please read our Chart of Learning Outcomes.


Is My Child a Candidate for Arrowsmith?

The Cognitive Profile Questionaire is a great resource in helping parents determine if your student is a potential candidate for The Arrowsmith Program at BCA.  It will take approximately 20 -30 minutes to complete and a short report will be generated for you to print as needed.  All data generated is anonymous and will not be evaluated by BCA or the Arrowsmith Program.

The Research Behind the Program

The Arrowsmith Program is founded on two lines of research, one of which established that different areas of the brain working together are responsible for complex mental activities, such as reading or writing, and that a weakness in one area can affect a number of different learning processes.

The other line of research investigated the principle of neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to physically change in response to stimulus and activity, to develop new neuronal/synaptic interconnections and thereby develop and adapt new functions and roles believed to be the physical mechanism of learning. Neuroplasticity refers to structural and functional changes in the brain that are brought about by training and experience.

Research in neuroscience is leading to new insights into the ways in which the brain changes in response to experience and points to the conclusion that the brain is not static but rather is dynamically changing and undergoes such changes throughout one’s entire life.

Students with learning disabilities have traditionally been treated with programs designed to compensate for their difficulties – students who have difficulty with handwriting, for example, would be taught to use a keyboard or accommodated with more time to write exams.

The goal of the Arrowsmith Program, by contrast, is to help students strengthen the weak cognitive capacities underlying their learning dysfunctions. The Arrowsmith Program deals with the root causes of the learning disability rather than managing its symptoms.

The Arrowsmith Program is capacity based in that it changes the capacity of the individual to learn, rather than compensatory which tries to work around the problem. Strengthening these weaker capacities increases the overall functioning of these specific cognitive areas allowing them to be used effectively for learning. With proven success for students in elementary school to post-secondary school and with adults, the goal of the program is for students to become effective, confident and self-directed learners for life, and to enable them to achieve their goals of academic and career success.

Additional Resources

You may read more about the development of the Arrowsmith methodology in the book The Woman Who Changed Her Brain,” by Barbara Arrowsmith Young.

The Arrowsmith Program was recently featured on the television news program, 60 Minutes. Click here to view the video segment.