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Improving K-12 education for students on the autism spectrum in Montgomery County, MD

Elementary Services in MCPS

Some MCPS special education programs follow a curriculum that leads to a high school diploma; other programs pursue the Alternate Learning Outcomes curriculum, and these lead to a high school certificate. 

Diploma-Bound Elementary Services (Grades K-5)

Useful Map Tool:  This interactive map allows you to locate any Pre-K or Elementary School special education program in MCPS. Use the drop down menu filters to find all the locations for a specific program or use the search bar to locate a specific school: MCPS Pre-K and ES Special Ed Map

For a directory of locations for each program, download MCPS Programs and Services Locations For Special Education Students 2018–2019

Resource Services

Resource Services are available in all MCPS schools to provide the support that students with disabilities need to be academically and functionally successful in the general education environment.

Gifted and Talented/Learning Disabled Services (GT/LD)

One Location: Lucy Barnsley E.S.

Gifted and Talented/Learning Disabled Services are available beginning in second grade to students who have demonstrated superior cognitive ability in at least one area and typically have production problems, particularly in the area of written expression. GT/LD services provide students with specialized instruction, adaptations, and accommodations that facilitate appropriate access to rigorous instruction in the least restrictive environment, which may include Honors or Advanced Placement classes. Some students may receive services in specialized classrooms.

Elementary Learning Centers

Locations: Burning Tree E.S., Brooke Grove E.S., Clearspring E.S., Cresthaven E.S., DuFief E.S., Flora Singer E.S., Galway E.S., Little Bennett E.S., Mill Creek Towne E.S., Rock View E.S., Sally K. Ride E.S., Watkins Mill E.S.

Elementary Learning Centers (ELC) serve students with varying disabilities through a continuum of services in self-contained classes within comprehensive elementary schools, with opportunities to be included with nondisabled peers in the general education environment. The services address the goals and objectives in the student’s IEP while ensuring access to the general education curriculum through assistive technology, reduced class size, and differentiated instruction. Classes are taught by a special education teacher with support from a paraeducator.

Darnestown Learning Center (for Autism)

One Location: Darnestown Elementary School

This school serves students with autism who are following the general education curriculum, but need a high degree of structured, ongoing systematic behavioral intervention and reinforcement for compliance and escape behaviors, as well as structured teaching for transitions, following routines, maintaining attention to task, and increased independence. Students have social needs in the area of pragmatics and sometimes in the area of reducing interfering behaviors.

A special educator and two paraeducators provide instruction in each self-contained, mixed-grade classroom that is highly structured with familiar routines, clearly defined rules and expectations, structured teaching, and motivation systems to support academic, social, and behavioral needs. Visual cues are paired with oral instruction. Students are instructed in small and large groups, and learn to work independently with faded adult support.

Carl Sandburg Learning Center

One Location: Carl Sandburg Elementary School

Carl Sandburg Learning Center is a small, special education school within MCPS, serving approximately 115 students with multiple disabilities in K–5. Students are taught in small, highly structured classrooms. The typical ratio of student-to-educator support is 1 teacher : 1 paraeducator : 8 students.

Elementary Asperger’s Services (starting in 1st grade)

Two Locations: Sligo Creek E.S., Diamond E.S.

The Elementary Asperger’s Services are provided to students diagnosed with autism who have average to high-average intellectual ability. They access the general education curriculum on or above grade level, and participate in the PARCC Assessment, but require supports including specialized instruction in a self-contained setting to assist with written language, social skills, comprehension of abstract and inferential information, and organization. Students have documented social and behavioral needs that have significantly interfered with their ability to participate in less restrictive settings, despite a variety of special and individualized supports.

Instruction is provided in mixed-grade classrooms within comprehensive elementary schools. Grade-level reading, language arts, math, and social skills instruction are taught by special education teachers in self-contained classrooms. Students are gradually included in general education classrooms for academics, with support from a paraeducator. Paraeducator support may be provided during transitions, lunch, and recess.

Teachers integrate highly structured routines, visual supports such as schedules and graphic organizers, social stories, social skills instruction, and motor breaks. Individual and classroom motivation systems are used to reinforce appropriate social behavior, to assist students in managing target behaviors, and to encourage them to follow the rules and classroom routines. Social skills groups, class units, and individualized direct instruction provide students with strategies for acceptable behavior. Autism staff collaborate with a transdisciplinary team and school-based counselor to integrate social skills teaching and opportunities to generalize these skills throughout the instructional day. The typical ratio of staff-to-student support is 1 teacher : 2 paraeducators : 8 students.

Social and Emotional Special Education Services (SESES)

Six Locations: Westbrook E.S., Georgian Forest E.S., Flower Hill E.S., Fairland E.S., Great Seneca Creek E.S., Flower Valley E.S., Snowden E.S.

The Social and Emotional Special Education Services are provided within comprehensive schools to students with social, emotional, behavioral, and learning challenges that adversely impact their success in school. The majority of students are identified with an emotional disability. Some students are identified with other disabilities, such as other health impairments, language disabilities, and learning disabilities. Students demonstrate average to above average cognitive abilities yet may not demonstrate commensurate academic achievement due to a history of emotional and behavioral difficulties that interfere with their ability to participate successfully in the general education curriculum. The program provides services in a continuum of settings that may include self-contained classes and opportunities for participation in general education classes with non-disabled peers as appropriate. The model also has an alternative structure component that provides levels of containment to respond effectively to students’ inappropriate and disruptive behavior.

Certificate-Bound Elementary Services (Grades K-5)

Useful Map Tool:  This interactive map allows you to locate any Pre-K or Elementary School special education program in MCPS. Use the drop down menu filters to find all the locations for a specific program or use the search bar to locate a specific school: MCPS Pre-K and ES Special Ed Map

For a directory of locations for each program, download MCPS Programs and Services Locations for Special Education Students 2018-2019

Learning for Independence (LFI)

Locations: Farmland E.S., Lakewood E.S., Stedwick E.S., Stonegate E.S., Waters Landing E.S., Woodlin E.S.

Learning for Independence (LFI) services are designed for students with complex learning and cognitive needs, including mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. Services support the implementation of Alternate Academic Learning Outcomes aligned with Curriculum 2.0. Students are provided with many opportunities for interaction with general education peers, including inclusion in general education classes as appropriate, peer tutoring, and extracurricular activities. Community-based instruction and vocational training are emphasized at the secondary level so that students are prepared for the transition to post-secondary opportunities upon graduating with a certificate from the school system.

School Community–Based Program (SCB)

Locations: Bethesda E.S., Cashell E.S., Damascus E.S., Dr. Charles R. Drew E.S., Germantown E.S., Laytonsville E.S., Luxmanor E.S., Sherwood E.S., Strathmore E.S., Wayside E.S.

School Community-based Program (SCB) services are designed for students with severe or profound intellectual disabilities and/or multiple disabilities. SCB services include the following components: age-appropriate classes, heterogeneous groups, peer interactions, individualized instruction, community instruction, and transition. Students typically have significant needs in the areas of communication, personal management, behavior management, and socialization. The program emphasizes individualized instruction in comprehensive schools and related community and work environments. The SCB model includes the following components: age-appropriate classes, heterogeneous groupings, peer interactions, individualized instruction, and transition.

Elementary Autism Services

Locations: Bells Mill E.S., Carderock Springs E.S., Cedar Grove E.S., Clopper Mill E.S., Cloverly E.S., College Gardens E.S., Fields Road E.S., Gaithersburg E.S., Rosemary Hills E.S., Meadow Hall E.S., Roscoe Nix E.S., Rock Creek Forest E.S., Sherwood E.S., Strawberry Knoll E.S., Westover E.S., Carl Sandburg Learning Center

Students receiving the Elementary Autism Services have a diagnosis of autism and need significant modifications and accommodations to access the curriculum, as well as direct, systematic instruction in all academic, functional, and social skill areas. These services are offered in self-contained classrooms in comprehensive elementary school buildings. Classrooms provide a highly structured environment that incorporates consistent routines, transition warnings, visual supports, and motivational systems, with an emphasis on the development of language, social skills, and student independence. Instructional and behavioral supports are based on best practices from the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, and focus on skill repetition and generalization. Data collection provides the basis for instructional decisions. Related services (occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech/language therapy) are usually provided within the context of the classroom. Students may have the opportunity to participate with non-disabled peers in social opportunities such as Best Buddies, Unified Sports, and/or Peer Interns. Classes have a small staff to student ratio of 1 teacher : 2 paraeducators : 6 students, with the majority of instruction occurring in dyads (1:2) and small groups (1:6).

Extensions Program

Locations: Candlewood E.S., Wheaton Woods E.S.

The Extensions Program serves elementary, middle and high school students who have the most significant cognitive disabilities, multiple disabilities, and/or autism. These are students with a prolonged history of requiring systematic behavioral supports and services to reduce self-injurious and/or disruptive behaviors. The goal of the program is to provide intensive educational programming to enable students to acquire appropriate social and communicative skills and prepare them for post-secondary opportunities.

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