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Secondary Services (Grades 6-12)

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. 

 Useful Map Tool:  This interactive map allows you to locate any Middle or High 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:

Middle School MapHigh School Map

Diploma-Bound Secondary Services

For a directory of locations for each program, download MCPS Programs and Services Locations for Special Education Students 2022–2023.

Asperger’s Program

Middle School Locations: Ridgeview M.S., Tilden M.S.
High School Locations: Quince Orchard H.S., Walter Johnson H.S.

The Secondary Asperger’s Services are provided to diploma-bound 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 have documented social and behavioral needs that have significantly interfered with their ability to participate in less restrictive settings. Students are included in general education classes for all academics with supports and accommodations in the areas of written language, comprehension of abstract and inferential information, and daily social skills instruction. Staff use consistent routines, visual supports, and motivation systems, and provide direct support for organizing work and managing assignments, navigating the school building, understanding social interactions, and managing behaviors resulting from stress and/or anxiety. High school students are also supported to build skills in self-advocacy. The typical ratio of staff-to-student support is 1 teacher : 2 paraeducators : 8 students.

Click here to read more about MCPS Secondary Asperger's Program

Autism Resource Services (ARS)

Middle School Locations: Gaithersburg M.S., Silver Spring International M.S., Westland M.S.
High School Locations: Winston Churchill H.S., John F. Kennedy H.S., Watkins Mill H.S.

Students receiving Autism Resource Services are diploma-bound and participate in the PARCC Assessment, but have difficulty mastering grade-level curriculum and may require a modified pace of instruction and accommodations for reduced work load. Students attend general education classes for core academic areas and electives with support from a special educator and/or paraeducator. Self-contained homeroom and resource periods are taught by special educators, who provide individual or small group instruction in a core content area. The resource period also provides instruction in social skills and assistance in organizing schoolwork. Special education teachers use best practices for students with autism spectrum disorders, such as visual supports, schedules, task analysis (breaking tasks into smaller parts), and individualized motivation systems, and are available to consult with general education teachers. If needed, paraeducators accompany students to specials classes and during transitions, including lunch. Staff from the MCPS Autism Unit consult with staff at the middle and high schools to support the students. The typical ratio of staff-to-student support is 1 teacher : 1 paraeducator : 6 students.

Bridge Services

Middle School Locations: Briggs Chaney M.S., Gaithersburg M.S., Herbert Hoover M.S.,
High School Locations: Gaithersburg H.S., Paint Branch H.S., Winston Churchill H.S.

Students receiving Bridge Services are diploma-bound and access the general education curriculum but have significant social, emotional, behavioral and/or learning challenges that make it difficult to succeed in a large school environment. Students receive instruction from special educators with the support of paraeducators in a suite of self-contained classrooms within comprehensive middle and high schools. Although staff reportedly collaborate with staff from the Autism Unit to serve students with autism, Bridge Services are not exclusively for students on the autism spectrum.

Bridge Services include comprehensive behavior management with structured and consistent reinforcement systems to assist students with motivation challenges. Social skills are taught and practiced during the school day, and focus on forming friendships, reading social cues, self knowledge (recognizing and coping with emotions and understanding their triggers), and self-advocacy. Students who can self-monitor and control their behavior may have the opportunity to attend classes in general education and/or Advanced Placement courses.

Social workers and/or psychologists provide mental health services including counseling and crisis intervention. Approximately 15 group counseling sessions are provided during the school year, which focus on topics such as self-esteem, team building, anger management, stress reduction, bullying prevention, making friends, and conversation skills. Related services such as occupational therapy, speech therapy, and individual counseling are available, based on a student’s needs as related to IEP goals.

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

Middle School Locations:  North Bethesda M.S., Odessa Shannon M.S., Roberto Clemente M.S.
High School Locations: Northwood H.S., Walter Johnson H.S., Watkins Mill H.S.

Students receiving GT/LD services demonstrate 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, and access to the acceleration and enrichment components in the MCPS instructional guidelines. Some students may receive services in specialized classrooms.

Learning and Academic Disabilities (LAD)

Learning and Academic Disabilities Services are available in ALL secondary schools (middle and high) in MCPS. These services are provided to students as a result of a disability that impacts academic achievement. Students served by this model have previously received a considerable amount of special education support, but need additional services to enable progress toward the IEP goals and objectives. These services are provided in a continuum of settings that may include components of self-contained classes, co-taught general education classes, and other opportunities for participation with non-disabled peers.


Resource services are available in all MCPS schools and provide students with disabilities with the support they need to be academically successful in the general education environment. Resource teachers provide an array of services to students with disabilities including strategy-based instruction; direct instruction aligned with the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards in reading/language arts, writing, mathematics, and organizational skills in preparation for the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP). Elementary and middle schools staffed with an hours-based staffing model include the resource teacher in the special education staffing allocation.

Social and Emotional Special Education Services (SESES)

Middle School Locations: Eastern M.S., Thomas W. Pyle M.S., Shady Grove M.S., Hallie Wells M.S., Julius West M.S.

High School Locations: Clarksburg H.S., Col. Zadok Magruder H.S., Richard Montgomery H.S., Northwest H.S., Northwood H.S., Walt Whitman H.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.

Click here to read more about MCPS Social and Emotional Special Education Services

Certificate-Bound Secondary Services

For a directory of locations for each program, download MCPS Programs and Services Locations for Special Education Students 2022–2023.

Autism Services

Middle School Locations: Robert Frost M.S., Montgomery Village M.S., John Poole M.S., Earle B. Wood M.S.,

High School Locations: Winston Churchill H.S., Col. Zadok Magruder H.S., Rockville H.S., Thomas S. Wootton H.S.

Students receiving the Secondary 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 middle and high school buildings with additional instruction in community and vocational settings. Classrooms and community instruction 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 to prepare students to be as independent as possible when they transition to adult services. 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. In addition, students are provided with community-based instruction and in-school prevocational tasks (middle school) or community based vocational tasks (high school) in order to prepare them for their transition to adult services. 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).

Click here to learn more about MCPS Secondary Autism Services

Extensions Program

Middle School Locations: Odessa Shannon M.S., Lakelands Park M.S.

High School Locations: Albert Einstein H.S., Quince Orchard H.S.

The Extensions Program serves 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.

Click here to learn more about MCPS Extensions Program

Learning for Independence (LFI)

Middle School Locations:  John T. Baker M.S., Benjamin Banneker M.S., Cabin John M.S., Roberto Clemente M.S., William H. Farquhar M.S., Montgomery Village M.S., Newport Mill M.S., Tilden M.S.

High School Locations: Damascus H.S., Albert Einstein H.S., Gaithersburg H.S., Walter Johnson H.S., John F. Kennedy H.S., Paint Branch H.S., Rockville H.S., Seneca Valley H.S., Springbrook H.S., Walt Whitman H.S., Watkins Mill H.S., Wheaton H.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.

Click here to learn more about MCPS Learning for Independence

School/Community–Based Program (SCB)

Middle School Locations: John T. Baker M.S., Cabin John M.S., William H. Farquhar M.S., Forest Oak M.S., Lakelands Park M.S., Sligo M.S., White Oak M.S. 

High School Locations: James Hubert Blake H.S., Damascus H.S., Albert Einstein H.S., Gaithersburg H.S., John F. Kennedy H.S., Seneca Valley H.S., Sherwood H.S., Springbrook H.S., Wheaton H.S., Walt Whitman H.S., Thomas S. Wootton H.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.

Click here to learn more about MCPS School/Community-Based Program

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