Special Education Programming
The Special Education Department at Marlborough High School is committed to preparing all students to be career- and/or college-ready, by providing them with opportunities to participate in a high quality education in the Least Restrictive Educational Environment, by supporting them to meet their individual goals, and by allowing them to access the curriculum through a variety of entry points designed to meet individual needs. We will promote the learning and growth of all students through instructional practices that establish high expectations, create a safe and effective classroom environment, and meet a broad range of learning needs.
Program Descriptions in this manual include the specialized programs available at Marlborough High School. Students may receive services in one program or a combination of programs based on individual student needs.
The Pathways Program
The goal of the Pathways Program is to meet the individualized needs of students with a disability of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or related developmental disabilities. This may include students with intellectual impairments who would benefit from ABA Methodologies. Students in the Pathways Program require specialized instruction to access Common Core Standards entry points and access skills. An ABA methodology is utilized to introduce these skills. This methodology teaches functional academic, social, communication, motor, independent living, and pre-vocational skills. Behavioral plans are also put in place to reduce challenging behaviors and teach functional replacement behaviors. Skills are initially introduced in a 1:1 or small group format within a special education classroom, and then generalized to large groups, inclusion classroom, and community settings. A significant emphasis is placed on teaching all students (both vocal and non-vocal) to use their functional communication skills across all environments in lieu of engaging in challenging behaviors. Behavior plans are generally written and overseen by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), who then consistently reviews with Pathways classroom staff.
The Connections Program
The Connections Program is a structured, sub-separate program at Marlborough High School. Using Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and other evidence-based teaching strategies, students are taught functional academics and independent life skills. The curriculum is highly individualized and addresses Communication, Functional Academics, Social and Emotional Development, Motor Skills and Self-care Skills. Students work on counting money, calculating change, cooking/meal prep, laundry, and cleaning. Students volunteer at work sites within the community to enhance their social and vocational skills. Students’ programs are individually designed and based on their needs. Students attend electives and lunch in the general education setting. Students participate in the MCAS Alternative Assessment in tenth grade.
PARTIAL AND FULL INCLUSION OFFERINGS
Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC)
The goal of the Marlborough High School Therapeutic Learning Center (TLC) is to create a therapeutic and supportive learning environment which celebrates the unique strengths and talents of all students. The Therapeutic Learning Center is a Tier II program for Special Education students that provides support to partial and full inclusion students. Students in this program typically have emotional disabilities, as defined by their Special Education team and have experienced a variety of personal challenges which, at times, impact their school attendance, performance, or self-confidence as learners. Clinical manifestations of these emotional disabilities may include anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, depression, mood dysregulation, and moderately disruptive behaviors. (The program is not designed for students with more serious behaviors such as significant aggression, either physical or sexual, who may require a substantially separate setting). In many students with emotional disabilities there may also be related neurological difficulties, such as attention deficit, hyperactivity disorders and social skills deficits.
Specific programmatic goals include improving attendance, and helping students maintain participation in mainstream settings. Assisting students in obtaining credits towards graduation is an overarching goal. The program also seeks to help students develop self-regulation strategies and age appropriate social skills so that they can interact with teachers and fellow students effectively in the school setting. In addition, in order to maximize academic performance, the program seeks to develop self-confidence in students as learners and to improve executive functioning skills such as attention to detail and organization.
Academic Support is a full year credited course designed to assist students who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and have it as a service in their IEP. Students will receive assistance and support for assignments and assessments from their academics in two different ways. First, students will be provided with the opportunity to receive support for assignments from their academic classes. Additionally, students will participate in specially designed curriculum to provide personal awareness of their disability and contents of their IEP, and to learn strategies and skills that will help the student achieve their IEP goals. Lastly, students will utilize their academic support to attend related services.
Co-teaching involves two or more certified professionals who contract to share instructional responsibility for a single group of students primarily in a single classroom or workspace for specific content or objectives with mutual ownership, pooled resources and joint accountability. (Friend & Cook 2016)
Students at all academic levels benefit from alternative assignments and greater teacher attention in small-group activities that co-teaching makes possible. Co-teaching allows for more intense and individualized instruction in the general education setting increasing access to the general education curriculum while decreasing stigma for students with special needs. Students have an opportunity to increase their understanding and respect for students with special needs. Students with special needs have a greater opportunity for continuity of instruction as the teachers benefit from the professional support and exchange of teaching practices as they work collaboratively.
Six methods of co-teaching utilized within the co-taught classroom:
- One Teach, One Observe
- One Teach, One Assist
- Parallel Teaching
- Station Teaching
- Alternative Teaching
- Team Teaching
The goal of Essentials course offerings is to educate our students with significant cognitive impairments and adaptive skill (i.e., activities of daily living, social communication, etc.) deficits seen at school and home. The students educated in Essentials courses require significant modifications to the grade-level curriculum taught in a small group setting with a low student to teacher ratio. Typically, the students learn the essential concepts of the grade-level curriculum. The students in Essentials courses require multiple opportunities for review, repetition, and clarification of the essential skills taught. Student disability and level of need determine the number of Essential courses that a student may require.
POST GRADE 12 OFFERINGS
Learning in Functional Environments Program (L.I.F.E.)
The Learning in Functional Environments Program is a transition program for students ages 18-22 with disabilities who have not received a regular high school diploma. The L.I.F.E. Program provides education and training in the areas of Independent living, Functional Academics, Social Communication, and vocational skills with access to community based internships and hands-on learning experiences. The L.I.F.E. Program strives to assist students with developing self-advocacy skills, equipping students with job skills for future employment, and improving their social skills. The L.I.F.E. Program is tailored to meet a student’s individual strengths, preferences, and interest areas. The L.I.F.E. Program works in collaboration with adult agencies, such as the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), to provide wraparound services to transition the student when the individual turns 22 and ages out of the public school system.
Program descriptions can be altered at anytime, given the needs of the students. The progress of all students with disabilities is carefully monitored. As students gain skills and demonstrate success, their Individual Educational Programs are adjusted accordingly. Instruction in the least restrictive educational setting in which the student makes effective progress is the ultimate goal. In the case where a student is not making effective progress within a particular program and/or delivery of a service, the team will reconvene to discuss program options and/or re-evaluate the student’s skills and needs.