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Special Education Services and Supports

The Agawam Public School District is dedicated to creating an inclusive environment that meets the needs of all learners.  For students identified as needing special education services, we provide a continuum of specially designed instruction, supports, and services.  We are committed to implementing services in the general education setting whenever possible, as is consistent with state and federal law and considered to be the least restrictive environment.  However, given the nature of individual student needs and abilities, some students are pulled into a small group setting, as identified by the IEP Team.

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Early Childhood Center

INTEGRATED PRE-K CLASSES

Location(s): ECC; Granger

The Integrated Pre-K is an inclusive early childhood program that educates students with identified special education needs alongside non-disabled peers.  Language-based strategies and methods that incorporate modifications and accommodations to support the educational needs of all students are used.  Related services are provided in and/or out of class, in a smaller group or individual setting, depending on the needs of the student.   The curriculum is based on the Common Core Curriculum and the Preschool Learning Experiences.  Teaching strategies include whole group lessons and small, focused instructional groups.  Learning objectives are embedded in both teacher-directed and student-directed activities and play schemes.

APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS (ABA)

Location(s): ECC; Granger

The Applied Verbal Behavior (VB) methodology of Applied Behavior Analysis is the primary methodology practiced to support students throughout the day. These techniques are intended to increase the communication abilities of students with autism and other exceptionalities.  A combination of errorless teaching, prompt fade procedures, discrete trial training, and natural environment teaching are utilized to support the development of functional language and diminish the barriers that impact a student’s ability to learn within the general education setting.  

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Elementary (Grades K-4)

APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS (ABA)

Location(s): Clark; Robinson Park

             The Applied Verbal Behavior (VB) methodology of Applied Behavior Analysis is the primary methodology practiced to support students throughout the day.  These techniques are intended to increase the communication abilities of students identified with autism and/or significant communication deficits.  A combination of errorless teaching, prompt fade procedures, discrete trial training, and natural environment teaching are utilized to support the development of functional language and diminish the barriers that impact a child’s ability to learn within the general education setting. Students' progress and skill acquisition are measured using the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) and/or the Essential for Living (EFL).  Each student’s curriculum is individualized to meet his/her specific academic needs while focusing on functional communication, activities of daily living, and social skills.  Additionally, Direct Instruction (DI) and community-based learning opportunities are provided.  An active, collaborative consultation model is used for related services such as speech and language.  This allows students opportunities to practice targeted skills with staff who have been trained by specialists throughout the day in naturally occurring situations and during structured instruction and supports generalization of skills.

 

ASPIRE

Location(s): Clark

Students who receive services through Aspire generally present with moderate to significant needs, requiring individualized modified curriculum in all areas, including activities of daily living, leisure skills, and social skills.  Additionally, Direct Instruction (DI) and community-based learning opportunities are provided.  An active, collaborative consultation model is used for related services such as speech and language.  This allows students opportunities to practice targeted skills with staff who have been trained by specialists throughout the day in naturally occurring situations and during structured instruction and supports the generalization of skills across settings.

CONNECTIONS

Location(s): Phelps

            Connections provides a predictable and structured routine that focuses on growth and learning and is designed to increase a child’s coping, self-regulation, and problem-solving skills as well as their capacity to establish positive connections with peers and adults. The intentional structuring of this learning environment is designed to equip students for academic and behavioral/social success based on principles grounded in research.   Strategies utilized within the program include room arrangement, structured, predictable daily schedules, appropriate and motivating curriculum and lessons, appropriate instructional pacing based on student need and grade level curriculum expectations, high rates of positive responses from staff, positive behavioral supports, home/school collaboration and communication, de-escalation techniques, planned ignoring techniques, assistive technology as appropriate, data collection and documentation, social skills instruction, problem-solving skills instruction, self-regulation instruction, individualized behavior intervention plans, and counseling as needed.   The ultimate goal is that the students can learn to manage their behavior and be successful in the least restrictive environment.

 

CO-TAUGHT/SUPPORTED CLASSES

Location(s): Clark; Granger; Phelps; Robinson Park

Academic and social support services are delivered primarily in inclusive settings.  Students with disabilities that vary in level and need are included in classrooms with non-disabled peers.  The staff embeds language-based strategies (including meta-cognitive, task-based, and multi-sensory strategies) into their instruction throughout the entire school day.  Classes are taught by general education teachers and special education teachers co-teaching and/or consulting with general education staff. Paraprofessionals are assigned to these programs, as are speech and language pathologists. SLPs consult with general and special education staff and provide services to students in small or large group settings, depending on student needs.  Some students receive instruction in reading, ELA, and/or mathematics in a small group setting, outside of the general education classroom.  This is determined on an individual basis, by each child's IEP Team.  Strategies, language, and supports used in specially designed instruction are generalized into the general education setting.

 

INTEGRATED LEARNING CLASSROOM

Location(s): Clark

Students receiving supports via the Integrated Learning Classroom have been previously exposed to a variety of academic interventions.  The curriculum is modified to meet the needs of the students, who are often functioning below grade level. Specially designed instruction in reading, ELA, and mathematics is provided in a small group setting by special education teachers and supported by paraprofessionals.  Special education teachers provide consultation to general education staff in order to assist in the modification of curriculum, and paraprofessionals provide support in these classes, as needed.  Students generally receive two hours of specially designed instruction (typically Direct Instruction - DI) in reading/English Language Arts and one hour in mathematics.  An active, collaborative consultation model is used for related services such as speech and language.  This allows students opportunities to practice targeted skills with staff who have been trained by specialists throughout the day in naturally occurring situations and during structured instruction and supports generalization of skills.

TRANSITIONAL LEARNING CENTER

Location(s): Granger

            The Transitional Learning Center (TLC) serves as a “bridge” between special education and general education. The TLC is a highly individualized program utilizing the verbal behavior approach.  Specially designed ELA and math programs are utilized based on student needs.  Direct social skills instruction in conjunction with the Common Core Curriculum are used to provide an environment of optimal learning for students with autism and other social skills deficits. The ultimate goal is for each student to become a more independent learner by decreasing adult assistance and maximizing the amount of time spent in the general education classroom.  For some students, this means that teaching begins in a small group setting. Other students receive additional adult assistance in the general education classroom.   Criterion-referenced assessments such as the Verbal Behavior Milestone Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) are utilized. These assessments and the individual student’s access to the general education curriculum are considered when developing a student’s Individual Education Program (IEP).

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Roberta Doering School (Grades 5 & 6)

ACADEMIC SUPPORT CLASSROOM

The Academic Support Classroom allows students to build skills to become more independent learners.  A special education teacher provides specially designed instruction in the areas of reading, English language arts, and mathematics in a small group setting, based on student need, as decided by the IEP Team. Students are included in the general education setting for other classes through a para-supported model, as needed. Special education staff consults with general education staff regularly.

APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS

             The Applied Verbal Behavior (VB) methodology of Applied Behavior Analysis is the primary methodology practiced to support students throughout the day.  These techniques are intended to increase the communication abilities of students identified with autism and/or significant communication deficits.  A combination of errorless teaching, prompt fade procedures, discrete trial training, and natural environment teaching in one-on-one and/or small group sessions to support the development of functional language and diminish the barriers that impact a child’s ability to learn within the general education setting are used. Students' progress and skill acquisition are measured using the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) and/or the Essential for Living (EFL).  Each student’s curriculum is individualized to meet his/her specific academic needs while focusing on functional communication, activities of daily living, and social skills. Students are included in the general education classroom as appropriate, based upon their skill levels and determined by the IEP Team. Additionally, Direct Instruction (DI) and community-based learning opportunities are provided.  An active, collaborative consultation model is used for related services such as speech and language.  This allows students opportunities to practice targeted skills with staff who have been trained by specialists throughout the day in naturally occurring situations and during structured instruction and supports generalization of skills.

ASPIRE

Students who receive services via Aspire generally present with moderate to significant needs, requiring individualized modified curriculum in all areas, including activities of daily living, leisure skills, and social skills.  Additionally, Direct Instruction (DI) and community-based learning opportunities are provided.  An active, collaborative consultation model is used for related services such as speech and language.  This allows students opportunities to practice targeted skills with staff who have been trained by specialists throughout the day in naturally occurring situations and during structured instruction and supports generalization of skills.

CONNECTIONS

Connections provides a predictable and structured routine that focuses on growth and learning and is designed to increase a child’s coping, self-regulation, and problem-solving skills as well as their capacity to establish positive connections with peers and adults. The intentional structuring of this learning environment is designed to equip students for academic and behavioral/social success based on principles grounded in research.  Strategies utilized within the program include room arrangement, structured, predictable daily schedules, appropriate and motivating curriculum and lessons, appropriate instructional pacing based on student need and grade level curriculum expectations, high rates of positive responses from staff, positive behavioral supports, home/school collaboration and communication, de-escalation techniques, planned ignoring techniques, assistive technology as appropriate, data collection and documentation, social skills instruction, problem-solving skills instruction, self-regulation instruction, individualized behavior intervention plans, and counseling as needed.  The ultimate goal is that the students can learn to manage their behavior and be successful in the least restrictive environment.

CO-TAUGHT/SUPPORTED CLASSES

Academic and social support services are delivered primarily in inclusive settings.  Students with disabilities that vary in level and need are included in classrooms with non-disabled peers.  The staff embeds language-based strategies (including meta-cognitive, task-based, and multi-sensory strategies) into their instruction throughout the entire school day.  Classes are taught by general education teachers and special education teachers co-teaching and/or consulting with general education staff. Paraprofessionals are assigned to these classes, as are speech and language pathologists. SLPs consult with general and special education staff and provide services to students in small or large group settings, depending on student needs.  Strategies, language, and supports used in specially designed instruction are generalized into the general education setting.

INTEGRATED LEARNING CLASSROOM

Students receiving supports via the Integrated Learning Classroom have been previously exposed to a variety of academic interventions.  The curriculum is modified to meet the needs of the students, who are often functioning below grade level. Specially designed instruction in reading, ELA, and mathematics is provided in a small group setting by special education teachers and supported by paraprofessionals.  Special education teachers provide consultation to general education staff in order to assist in the modification of curriculum, and paraprofessionals provide support in these classes, as needed.  Students generally receive two hours of specially designed instruction (typically Direct Instruction - DI) in reading/English Language Arts and one hour in mathematics.  An active, collaborative consultation model is used for related services such as speech and language.  This allows students opportunities to practice targeted skills with staff who have been trained by specialists throughout the day in naturally occurring situations and during structured instruction and supports generalization of skills.

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Junior High School (Grades 7 & 8)

ASPIRE/ABA          

            The Aspire/ABA class at AJHS is primarily for students from grades seven and eight who have moderate to significant needs. Curriculum and instruction are modified and individualized to each child's developmental level. Students are included in the general education classroom as determined by IEP Teams. Social skills and daily living skills are also an area of focus for students. Additionally, Direct Instruction (DI) and regular community-based learning opportunities are provided.  Interventions utilizing the principles of ABA may be implemented as needed.   For those students that require ABA supports, the Applied Verbal Behavior (VB) methodology of Applied Behavior Analysis is the primary methodology practiced to support students throughout the day.  These techniques are intended to increase the communication abilities of students identified with autism and/or significant communication deficits.  A combination of errorless teaching, prompt fade procedures, and natural environment teaching are used in one-on-one and/or small group sessions to support the development of functional language and diminish the barriers that impact a child’s ability to learn within the general education setting.

CONNECTIONS

Connections provides a predictable and structured routine that focuses on growth and learning and is designed to increase a child’s coping, self-regulation, and problem-solving skills as well as their capacity to establish positive connections with peers and adults.  The intentional structuring of this learning environment is designed to equip students for academic and behavioral/social success based on principles grounded in research.  Strategies utilized within the program include room arrangement, structured, predictable daily schedules, appropriate and motivating curriculum and lessons, appropriate instructional pacing based on student need and grade level curriculum expectations, high rates of positive responses from staff, positive behavioral supports, home/school collaboration and communication, de-escalation techniques, planned ignoring techniques, assistive technology as appropriate, data collection and documentation, social skills instruction, problem-solving skills instruction, self-regulation instruction, individualized behavior intervention plans, and counseling as needed.  The ultimate goal is that the students can learn to manage their behavior and be successful in the least restrictive environment.

CO-TAUGHT CLASSES

            All major subjects (ELA, mathematics, science, and social studies) are co-taught by a special education teacher and a general education teacher. Accommodations and modifications outlined within each student's IEP are implemented by staff throughout the school day.  Collaboration with service providers (including a speech and language pathologist), general education teachers and specialists occurs regularly. Special education teachers attend IEP meetings, conduct progress monitoring and reporting, and act as the liaison between home and school.  Pre and re-teaching, reinforcement, and direct instruction in organizational skills, expressive and receptive language, and executive functioning skills is provided during the Academic Support and Enrichment (ASE) period by general education teachers, special education teachers, and the speech and language pathologist.

CO-TAUGHT AND/OR PARAPROFESSIONAL SUPPORTED CLASSES

            Language-based strategies (including meta-cognitive, task-based, and multisensory strategies) are integrated into the entire curriculum to teach students with learning and/or communication disabilities compensatory strategies that enable them to access the general education curriculum.  Students receive instruction from general education content area teachers with a combination of co-taught classes, consultation, para-supported classes and small group, direct instruction.  Pre and re-teaching, reinforcement, and direct instruction in organizational skills, expressive and receptive language, and executive functioning skills is provided during the Academic Support and Enrichment (ASE) period by general education teachers, special education teachers, and the speech and language pathologist.

INTEGRATED LEARNING CLASSROOM

            Instruction in the areas of organizational and social skills are embedded in the academic curriculum and taught directly, based on student needs, as identified by the IEP Team.  Additionally, students are exposed to career exploration, vocational training options, and job skills preparation. Development of social skills for the school, work, and community settings are also a focus of instruction.  The curriculum for students in the program is modified to meet the needs of the students, who are often functioning below grade level, primarily using Direct Instruction (DI).  Reading, ELA, and mathematics interventions are provided in a small group setting by special education teachers and supported by paraprofessionals.  Students are generally included in general education classes for specials and other academic classes.  For these classes, special education teachers provide consultation to general education staff in order to assist in the modification of curriculum.  Paraprofessionals provide support in these classes, as needed.  An active, collaborative consultation model is used for related services such as speech and language.  This allows students opportunities to practice targeted skills with staff who have been trained by specialists throughout the day in naturally occurring situations and during structured instruction and supports generalization of skills.

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High School (Grades 9-12+)

APPLIED BEHAVIOR ANALYSIS (ABA)

The Applied Verbal Behavior (VB) methodology of Applied Behavior Analysis is the primary methodology practiced to support students throughout the day.  These techniques are intended to increase the communication abilities of students identified with autism and/or significant communication deficits.  A combination of errorless teaching, prompt fade procedures, and natural environment teaching are used in one-on-one and/or small group sessions to support the development of functional language and diminish the barriers that impact a child’s ability to learn within the general education setting.  Students' progress and skill acquisition are measured using the Verbal Behavior Milestones Assessment and Placement Program (VB-MAPP) and/or Essential for Living (EFL).  Each student’s curriculum is individualized to meet his/her specific academic needs while focusing on self-care, personal hygiene, safety, communication, and leisure to prepare for the transition to adult life.  Students are included in the general education classroom as appropriate based upon their skill levels and determined by the IEP Team.  Students participate in regular community-based learning opportunities and a focus is placed on independent skills development.  As students near graduation from special education services, the transition to adult life becomes a focal point of each students’ program.  An active, collaborative consultation model is used for related services such as speech and language.  This allows students opportunities to practice targeted skills with staff who have been trained by specialists throughout the day in naturally occurring situations and during structured instruction and supports generalization of skills.  Students and families are actively involved in the development of their educational plans and play a key and vital role in their future educational plans.

ASPIRE

            Aspire is primarily for students from grades nine to twelve who have moderate to significant needs. Curriculum and instruction are modified and individualized to each child's developmental level. Students are included in the general education classroom as determined by IEP Teams. Social skills and daily living skills are also an area of focus for students.  A speech and language pathologist uses an active consultation model to provide services to students in the program.  As students approach the end of their high school career, they begin to prepare for life after high school by participating in various instructional activities, based on the recommendations of the IEP Team. These may include vocational preparation, and/or exposure to a variety of opportunities within the community.  Students and families are actively involved in the development of their educational plans and play a key and vital role in their future educational plans.

CONNECTIONS

Connections provides a predictable and structured routine that focuses on growth and learning and is designed to increase a child’s coping, self-regulation, and problem-solving skills as well as their capacity to establish positive connections with peers and adults.  The intentional structuring of this learning environment is designed to equip students for academic and behavioral/social success based on principles grounded in research.  Strategies utilized within the program include room arrangement, structured, predictable daily schedules, appropriate and motivating curriculum and lessons, appropriate instructional pacing based on student need and grade level curriculum expectations, high rates of positive responses from staff, positive behavioral supports, home/school collaboration and communication, de-escalation techniques, planned ignoring techniques, assistive technology as appropriate, data collection and documentation, social skills instruction, problem-solving skills instruction, self-regulation instruction, individualized behavior intervention plans, and counseling as needed.  The ultimate goal is that the students can learn to manage their behavior and be successful in the least restrictive environment.  Students are actively involved in the development of their educational plans and play a key and vital role in their future educational plans.

CO-TAUGHT CLASSES

            For all major subjects (ELA, mathematics, science, and social studies), classes that are co-taught by a special education teacher and a general education teacher are available for students based on student need.  For students who require additional support, the Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) class provides direct instruction in organizational skills, executive functioning, study skills, social skills, and academic support.  Accommodations and modifications outlined within each student's IEP are implemented by staff throughout the school day.  Collaboration with service providers (including a speech and language pathologist), general education teachers and specialists occurs regularly. Special education teachers attend IEP meetings, conduct progress monitoring and reporting, and act as the liaison between home and school.  Students are actively involved in the development of their educational plans and play a key and vital role in their future educational plans.

CO-TAUGHT AND/OR PARAPROFESSIONAL SUPPORTED CLASSES

Language-based strategies (including meta-cognitive, task-based, and multisensory strategies) are integrated into the entire curriculum to teach students with learning and/or communication disabilities compensatory strategies that enable them to access the general education curriculum.  Students receive instruction from general education content area teachers with a combination of co-taught classes, consultation, para-supported classes and small group, direct instruction.  For students who require additional support, the Integrated Learning Strategies (ILS) class provides direct instruction in organizational skills, executive functioning, study skills, social skills, and academic support.  The focus of instruction in ILS is organizational skills, time management, executive functioning, language-based strategies, identifying learning styles and strategies, developing self-advocacy, and becoming independent learners. Students are actively involved in the development of their educational plans and play a key and vital role in their future educational plans.

INTEGRATED LEARNING CLASSROOM

            Students in the ILC are taught in a small classroom setting for most academic periods. A special education teacher provides modifications to curriculum.  Students in this program are often enrolled halftime at the Career and Technical Education Center.  The special education teacher also provides support to students at C-Tech through regular collaboration and consultation with the vocational instructors.   In order to meet the entrance criteria for the program, students must maintain good attendance, grades, and behavior.  Students in this program are working toward meeting the local and state requirements for a high school diploma. An active, collaborative consultation model is used for related services such as speech and language.  This allows students opportunities to practice targeted skills with staff who have been trained by specialists throughout the day in naturally occurring situations and during structured instruction and supports generalization of skills.  Students are actively involved in the development of their educational plans and play a key and vital role in their future educational plans.

STRIVE (Located at 66 Meadowbrook Manor)

            For eligible students aged 18-22, the district provides community-based services focusing on building skills in the areas of communication, social interaction, employment, daily living, transportation, and leisure.  Young adults participate in a variety of volunteer positions in Agawam and the surrounding communities.  They participate in hands-on instruction designed to assist them in exploring potential employment opportunities, developing independent living skills, and navigating the adult world, including adult service agencies.  Additionally, many take courses and participate in college life through the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative (MAICEI) at Holyoke Community College or Westfield State University.  Individuals who are part of Strive are preparing to become independent, contributing members of our adult community as they make the transition out of special education services.  Students and families are actively involved in the development of their educational plans and play a key and vital role in their future educational plans.