Table of Contents

Integrated Specialized Services Program

Middle School Language-Based Program

Skills Program

Therapeutic Learning Class (TLC)


Integrated Specialized Services Program
Wellesley Middle School

Program Description:
The Integrated Specialized Services (ISS) program is designed to meet the needs of students with global disabilities, inclusive of intellectual impairment.  Students in this program require services that address more than one of the following areas:

  • Learning – academic delays/deficits and functional life skills
  • Communication – receptive and/or expressive
  • Pragmatics – using social language
  • Motor – fine and/or gross
  • Sensory – vision and /or hearing
  • Health/Wellness –
  • Nonverbal – integrating information, visual/spatial perception, and organization

Design
The goal of this program is to provide individually designed instruction and therapies in settings that promote inclusion in general education classes to the greatest extent appropriate, while providing opportunities for more specialized attention in a special education setting as needed.

Integrated Instructional Approaches:
Each student has a program that is uniquely designed to match his/her learning needs.  These individualized programs are developed by program staff, including the special education teacher and related service providers.  Skill instruction is designed to maximize cross- disciplinary teaching in multiple domains.  Fluid integration of therapies into the teaching of curriculum is provided through direct services and ongoing consultation. For example, written language may be taught while integrating fine motor skill instruction developed by an occupational therapist.

Portions of the student’s day are spent in the general education classroom with support from a program staff member.  In addition to time in the general education classroom, students spend time receiving very specialized instruction and/or therapies in special education settings. Time in the special education setting may also address pre-teaching and review of the general education curriculum to support the acquisition and retention of skills and knowledge.  The amount of time spent out of the general education classroom, in a special education setting, is determined by the Team based upon the needs of students and documented on the IEPs.

Portions of the student’s day also address daily living, community, and social skills.  Students may work on developing skills using the public library, purchasing items in a grocery store and pharmacy, ordering at a restaurant, and preparing simple, healthy snacks.  A Board Certified Behavior Analyst may work with the program staff to support the development of a broad range of daily living skills.  Academic curriculum will integrate daily living skill development in areas of environmental print, time, and money.  Goals in this area will be individually and specifically addressed, as needed, within a student’s IEP.

Massachusetts Curriculum Standards and the standards of the Wellesley Public Schools are addressed in each child’s program.  Appropriate accommodations and/or modifications are specifically developed to address the student’s individual learning and social profile.  General education teachers are involved with the teaching and are important members of each student’s Team.

Independence and the development of confidence are encouraged throughout the day.  Instruction and support are scaffolded, providing just the right amount of support while not promoting dependence.  To the greatest extent appropriate, adult support is faded when the student exhibits independence during varied activities and social interactions. To optimize independence, the program does not encourage the attachment of one adult to each child.  While there may be a primary teacher assistant assigned to a student and the general education classroom, each staff member of the program is knowledgeable about each child’s strengths and needs.  This model encourages independence and allows for a more fluid provision of support and/or safety when a staff member may be absent.

Assessment:
Instruction is guided by the information gathered through both formal and informal assessments.  Assessments may include daily data collection, portfolios, observations, formal standardized testing, and other student specific means to closely monitor progress.  Students may participate in MCAS under routine conditions, with accommodations, or through an Alternate Assessment.  Participation in MCAS is discussed and determined at each student’s Team Meeting and documented within the IEP.

Transition Planning:
As each student approaches the age of fourteen, the Team will create a vision statement and action plan related to the student’s academic and functional preparation and transition to post-secondary activities.  Transition assessments will be completed as part of this process.  The district’s Transition Coordinator will consult with the program staff to support this process.

Program Staff:
The lead teacher of this program is a licensed special educator with a background in working with students with delays and challenges that cross domains.  The program is also staffed by teacher assistants who work under the direction of the lead teacher and assist in the implementation of goal focused instruction designed by the special education teacher.  Therapists provide direct and consultative services to the program.  Related service providers are included on the students’ IEPs as determined by the Team and the unique needs of the students.

The program staff includes (dependent on individual student needs):

  • Speech/Language Pathologist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Assistive Technology Specialist
  • School Psychologist
  • Teacher of the Visually Impaired
  • Orientation and Mobility Specialist
  • Teacher of the Deaf (includes hearing impairments)
  • Health Provider
  • Adaptive Physical Education Teacher
  • Other, when required

Middle School Language-Based Program
Wellesley Middle School

The Language-Based Program is designed for students experiencing significant delays in the acquisition of literacy and math skills due to a language-based learning disability.  Students with language-based learning disabilities may present with needs in all or some of the following areas:

  • Auditory – listening, understanding, remembering
  • Receptive – understanding language, including oral and written language
  • Expressive – using language, including speaking and writing
  • Pragmatics – using social language
  • Nonverbal – integrating information, visual/spatial perception, organization, and math

Design
Literacy is taught in a small group or individual setting, as determined by the team.  Math instruction is provided in a small group setting, also as determined by the team.  Accompanied by program staff and as recommended through the team process, students are included in general education science, social studies, all specials, and other school community activities. Students may also be included in general education math class as determined by the team.

Dependent on the individual needs of the students, the following instructional programming is available:

Language Based Instruction Approaches: Each student is provided with a research-based curriculum approach that is specifically tailored to his or her unique language capabilities, both expressive (including written expression) and receptive and identified needs.  Speech and language therapy may be incorporated into the teaching of curriculum and provided through direct services and ongoing consultation per the student’s IEP.  The special education teacher, teacher assistants, general education teachers, and speech and language therapists may collaborate to design and develop instructional methods.

Reading instruction is designed to address the main components of reading: phonics, reading fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary study.  A research-based, systematic, multisensory phonics program may be implemented for students who require this type of approach.

Phonics:  Phonics instruction provides a complete curriculum for decoding and encoding (spelling) directly teaching the structure of words to support mastery of the coding system for reading and spelling.  It is presented in a systematic, multi-sensory and cumulative manner so that the retention of skills and knowledge is reinforced.

Reading Fluency: Reading fluency is addressed through guided and repeated oral readings of familiar uncontrolled and controlled text to provide practice to improve rate, accuracy, and prosody.

Vocabulary: Vocabulary instruction is supported through review and preview of content, and word study to integrate into students use of language.  Students are taught to understand a given vocabulary word in a variety of decontextualized situations.

Reading Comprehension:  Reading comprehension instruction involves the use of visualization techniques to engage students to create pictures in their minds while reading in order to help them form a gestalt. Development of background schema is embedded into curriculum to support student understanding and connection to a given text.  Active reading strategies are explicitly taught in order to help students strengthen their abilities in oral language comprehension and expression, written language expression, and critical thinking skills. Figurative language is explicitly taught in order to help create a deeper understanding of characters and themes within a given text.

Written Language: Written language instruction is provided through the use of a variety of multi-sensory, sequential systematic procedures. These procedures guide students through the five-step writing process and move from writing simple sentences to multi paragraph essays and narratives. Additionally, the use of graphic organizers and writing templates are incorporated into the writing process.  These visual tools help foster fundamental thinking processes and students organize the content of their writing assignments. They are used individually or in various combinations to form a common visual language for students and teachers that correspond with grade level expectations.

Mathematics: Students may be provided explicit mathematics instruction within a small group setting or access the general education mathematics instruction within the general education environment. The small group math class is taught by a special educator using research-based practices that build a solid foundation of the language in mathematics and a conceptual understanding that increases students’ ability in problem solving.  Teachers provide instruction that promotes retention and mastery of skills with opportunities for repeated practice. Within the mathematics program, educators are committed to the philosophy that mathematics build on prior learning and requires a multi-sensory approach to teach. Students who attend math in the general education setting may have access to or support from program staff as determined by the team. Preview and review of concepts, vocabulary, and skills are reinforced.

Science and Social Studies: Students receive their social studies and science instruction in the general education environment.  The Language-Based Program teacher and the general education social studies and science teachers regularly communicate and collaborate to provide the most effective instructional practices.  This collaboration allows for determining appropriate accommodations and/or modifications when needed.  A program staff member is present within these classrooms to ensure continuity and integration of language-based instructional approaches.  Because students in this program can learn content material at a higher level than their skill development, layers of instructional support and scaffolding provide the necessary components that allow students to enter curriculum exploration at a level commensurate with their cognitive and grade levels.

Executive Functioning: Instructional strategies to develop and increase executive functioning skills are specifically embedded within the program.  Focus areas include: attention and self-control; organization of materials and environment; information processing; cognitive flexibility and purposeful behavior; and goal setting and achievement.  Students are provided with support and skill building instruction using core curriculum areas, such as social studies and science.  The Language-Based staff provides explicit instruction around tasks such as studying, note taking, and developing skills in textbook strategies.

Assessments: Instruction is guided by the progress information gathered through both formal and informal assessments.  Assessments may include daily data collection, portfolios, reading inventories, observations, and formal standardized testing, and other student specific means to closely monitor progress.

Program Staff: The lead teacher of the Language-Based program is a licensed special educator with training in specialized reading and written language instructional methods.  Teacher assistants who work under the direction of the lead teacher also staff the program and assist in the implementation of goal-focused instruction designed by the special education teacher.  The speech and language therapist provides direct and consultative services to the program.

The program is also staffed by related service providers that may include, dependent on the needs of each student, the following specialists:

  • Occupational Therapist
  • Assistive Technology Specialist
  • School Psychologist
  • Others as needed

Skills Program
Wellesley Middle School

Program Description:
This program is designed to meet the needs of students diagnosed with a disability on the autism spectrum, which includes autistic disorder, Asperger’s Disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD NOS), and Rhett’s Syndrome. Students with autism spectrum disorder may present with needs in all or some of the following areas:

  • Verbal and nonverbal communication
  • Social interaction skills and proficiencies
  • Unusual responses to sensory experiences
  • Resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines
  • Engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements
  • Behavioral difficulties resulting from autism spectrum disorder
  • Progress in the general curriculum, including social and emotional development.

Instructional Methodologies:
Instruction is provided in small group or individual settings.  Accompanied by program staff to provide continuity of instructional approaches, students may be included in general education settings for academics, science, social studies, specials, and social building activities, as appropriate. Dependent on each student’s individual needs as determined through the Team process, instruction may also focus on skill development in functional academics, daily living, community awareness and travel training, health/wellness, and pre-vocation.  Each student’s program is individually designed.

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA):
The middle school program implements the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). ABA is the process of systematically applying interventions based upon the principles of learning theory to improve socially significant behaviors to a meaningful degree. The ABA process demonstrates that the interventions employed are responsible for the improvement in behavior.

ABA methods are used to support students with autism spectrum disorder in some or all of the following ways:

  • Increase behaviors (e.g. reinforcement procedures to increase on-task behavior or social interactions)
  • Teach new skills (e.g. systematic instruction and reinforcement procedures teach functional life skills, communication skills, or social skills)
  • Maintain behaviors (e.g. teaching self control and self-monitoring procedures to maintain and generalize social skills)
  • Generalize or to transfer behavior from one situation or response to another (e.g. from completing assignments in the small class setting to performing as well in the general education classroom)
  • Restrict or narrow conditions under which interfering behaviors occur (e.g. modifying the learning environment)
  • Reduce interfering behaviors (e.g. self injury or stereotypy)

Assessment:
Informal and formal assessment and/or data collection are used to guide instruction.  Assessment may include data collection, formal standardized testing, observations, portfolios and reading inventories.  All assessment information monitors progress, guides instruction, and supports the Team in goal and benchmark development.

Transition Planning:
As each student approaches the age of fourteen, the Team will create a vision statement and action plan related to the student’s academic and functional preparation and transition to post-secondary activities.  Transition assessments will be completed as part of this process.  The district’s Transition Coordinator will consult with the program staff to support this process.

Program staff:
The lead teacher of this program is a licensed special educator with training in designing instruction for students with autism spectrum disorder.  Paraprofessionals, trained in ABA, who work under the direction of the lead teacher and a BCBA, also staff the program and assist in the implementation of goal-focused instruction designed by the lead teacher. The speech/language pathologist provides direct and consultative services to the program.

The program is also staffed by related service providers that include, dependent on the needs of each student, the following specialists:

  • Speech/Language Pathologist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Assistive Technology Specialist
  • School Psychologist
  • Teacher of the Visually Impaired
  • Orientation and Mobility Specialist
  • Teacher of the Deaf (includes hearing impairments)
  • Health Provider
  • Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA)
  • Adaptive Physical Education Teacher

Therapeutic Learning Class (TLC)
Wellesley Middle School

Program Description:
This program is a middle school academic and therapeutic program designed to meet the needs of students who present with challenges in the emotional/social/behavioral domains. Students in this program may present with needs in some or all of the following areas:

  • Development of age-appropriate social relationships with adults and/or peers
  • Self-regulation of behavioral responses to typical school demands
  • Ability to appropriately make transitions from one activity to another
  • Ability to manage frustration in an age-appropriate manner
  • Ability to fully access curriculum and instruction due to emotional/social/behavioral challenges and/or possible academic skill deficits

Students are placed in the Therapeutic Learning Class (TLC) when the Team determines that this highly specialized, therapeutic level of service provision is appropriate to ensure progress in academic and social/behavioral domains. The program provides a highly structured setting with very consistent expectations and routines within the therapeutic milieu.

The goal of this program is to provide a therapeutic approach and individually designed instruction to students while providing opportunities for more specialized therapeutic interventions in a special education setting as needed.  Promoting the student’s ability to access the general education classes to the greatest extent appropriate is a goal for each student. The ultimate goal for each student is full integration within general education classes.  Each student’s participation in general education classes is determined by the student’s IEP Team and documented on the IEP. Ongoing curriculum-based assessments and behavioral data collections are woven into the school day so that staff and families can assess progress.

Alignment with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and the Wellesley core curriculum guides the academic instructional focus.  Specific and essential curriculum standards are targeted based upon the individualized instructional needs and levels of each student within the program.  Curriculum can be both modified and adapted, depending on student need. Creative use of technology is incorporated into the curriculum to enhance student interest and engagement.

The TLC program uses a structured behavior management system that focuses on the shaping and reinforcement of prosocial behavior. Members of the TLC staff help facilitate the demonstration of students’ prosocial behavior through the use of positive behavioral support and an academic, behavioral and social-emotional rubric systematically constructed by the student’s team to address behaviors significant to and individually designed for each student. Points earned on the rubric can be redeemed in the classroom for earned free time and independence in the larger school setting.  Overall, this behavior management model serves to maximize student time on learning and increased access to the general curriculum.

Students in the TLC program can choose to utilize an “self-break” strategy when unable to focus or when dealing with internal stressors.  These include both movement and calming strategies. With staff support, students are encouraged to identify those strategies that work best for them.  When proven beneficial, students are encouraged to use these strategies when in both the TLC and general education settings.  The TLC classroom is always an option for a student to take space in when they need a break from the general education classroom.

To support the growth and application of social skills, a weekly TLC community meeting is incorporated into the students’ schedules.  This provides students with an opportunity to develop and practice social and communication skills as well as coping and problem solving skills through the use of games, activities, and structured exercises.  It also allows them an opportunity to learn how to become responsible, constructive, and considerate members of a small community.

Assessment:
Instruction is guided by the progress information gathered through both formal and informal assessments.  Assessments may include daily data collection, portfolios, reading inventories, observations, and formal standardized testing, and other student specific means to closely monitor progress.

Program Staff:
The lead teacher is experienced with a comprehensive background in working with students with the presenting needs as described above.  The teacher communicates regularly and works collaboratively with the general education teachers, teaching assistants, the TLC school psychologist, specialists, and families. The program is also staffed by trained teaching assistants who work under the direction of the lead teacher and school psychologist, and assist in the implementation of goal focused instruction and behavioral/social support.

An experienced school psychologist works within the program and with the students, staff, and families. The school psychologist provides individual counseling as determined by each student’s IEP, and is also available for ongoing consultation with families regarding school challenges. The TLC’s school psychologist is an integral part of the therapeutic environment. The school psychologist is available for consultation and support with general education classroom teachers.  Often, students are involved in private counseling outside the school setting.  When parental consent is provided, the school psychologist will consult with the private service providers to coordinate strategies and share feedback as appropriate.

The program is also staffed by related service providers that may include, dependent on the needs of each student, the following specialists:

  • Speech/ Language Pathologist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Assistive Technology Specialist
  • Other, when required
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