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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 (ALO) curriculum, and these lead to a high school certificate.  The MCPS special education programs described below are divided into those that lead to a high school diploma (Diploma-Bound) and the programs that lead to a high school certificate (Certificate-Bound). 

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

To find descriptions of preschool programs, click here

Diploma-Bound Elementary Services (Grades K-5)


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

Different students require different levels of support at school. The programs below are listed generally in order from least to most support. 


Home School Model (HSM)

Locations: Available at all elementary schools.

Students: Students with a variety of disability codes are assigned to heterogenous classrooms along with students who do not have an IEP.

Learning Environment: Not to be confused with home schooling, the home school model provides services and accommodations within the school assigned to your neighborhood. The Home School Model is typically considered the "least restrictive environment." Students receive special education services either in the general education classroom and/or in small group pull-outs with a special education teacher. Related services (speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling) are available in all elementary schools.

Description from MCPS: (as of Aug. '22): All elementary schools offer HSM services to support students in Grades K–5 as a result of a disability that impacts academic achievement in one or more content areas, organization, and/or behavior. Students are assigned to age-appropriate heterogeneous classes in their neighborhood schools. Student access to the general education curriculum during the course of the day is based on individual student needs and encompasses a variety of instructional models that may include instruction in a general education environment and/or a self-contained setting.

Click here to read more about the MCPS Home School Model.


Aspergers Connections (starting in 1st grade)

(name to be changed in July 2023 to Autism Connections)

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

Students: Students have an autism diagnosis, are on or above grade level, and can engage in general education math. 

Learning Environment: In general education for all classes except for homeroom, social-skills instruction, and language arts. Self-contained classroom for homeroom usually includes students from more than one grade.

Staffing: 1 special education teacher and 2 paraeducators in the self-contained setting. Paraeducators accompany students to general education classes, specials, lunch, and recess.

Special Features: Social-skills instruction using autism-specific curricula.

Description from MCPS: (as of Feb. '23)The Elementary Aspergers classes are based in comprehensive elementary school buildings. Students served by this model have a diagnosis of Aspergers Disorder. The students function in the average to high average range of intellectual ability and receive instruction on the general education curriculum, with enrichment as appropriate. Students have documented social and behavioral needs that have significantly interfered with their ability to participate in other educational environments, despite a variety of special and individualized supports. Autism staff members, in collaboration with the transdisciplinary team and a school-based counselor, integrate social skills teaching and generalization opportunities throughout the instructional day. Social skill groups, class units, and direct individualized teaching are utilized to provide students with strategies for acceptable behavior. Individual and classroom motivation systems reinforce appropriate social behavior across the school day.

Click here to join the Facebook group for parents/guardians of students in Aspergers Connections.

Click here to read more about MCPS Aspergers Connections 


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.

Students: Students are typically 1–2 years below grade level. Students have a variety of disability codes. Not all students are autistic.

Learning Environment: All classes, except for lunch and recess, are self-contained. Self-contained classroom usually includes students from more than one grade. Over time, students can be increasingly mainstreamed, if appropriate.

Staffing: 1 teacher and 1 paraeducator for 8–14 students.

Special Features: Can support both diploma-track and certificate-track students.

Description from MCPS: (as of Feb. '23): Elementary Learning Centers serve students through a continuum of services in self-contained classes 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.

Click here to read more about MCPS Elementary Learning Centers


Darnestown Learning Center (for Autism)

Location: Darnestown Elementary School

Students: All students have an autism disability code in addition to being 1–2 years below grade level. Students have delays in expressive and receptive language skills and deficits in social (pragmatic) language. Students need a high degree of structured, ongoing systematic behavioral interventions and reinforcement for compliance and escape behaviors, as well as structured teaching for transitions, following routines, maintaining attention to task, and increased independence.

Learning Environment: All classes, except for lunch and recess, are self-contained. Self-contained classroom usually supports students from more than one grade. Over time, students can be increasingly mainstreamed, if appropriate.

Staffing: 1 teacher and 2 paraeducators for roughly 9 students.

Special Features: Social skills instruction, built in sensory supports, access to Occupational Therapy room.

Description from MCPS: (as of Nov. '19)The special educator and paraeducators provide instruction to students in self- contained mixed grade K–5 classrooms, with opportunities for inclusion provided as individually determined. The classrooms are highly structured, language enriched settings with familiar routines, clearly defined rules and expectations, structured teaching at a modified pace and motivational systems to support academic, social, and behavioral needs. Students are instructed in both small and large groups and require instruction in working independently with faded adult support. 

Click here to read more about the Darnestown Learning Center.


Social and Emotional Special Education Services (SESES)

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

Students: Students are typically at grade level. Most students are diagnosed with an emotional disability. Not all students are autistic.

Learning Environment: All classes, except for specials, lunch, and recess, are self-contained. Self-contained classroom sometimes supports students from more than one grade. Over time, students can be increasingly mainstreamed, if appropriate.

Staffing: 1 teacher and 1 paraeducator for approximately 10 students.

Special features: The program is supported by a Behavior Support Teacher and a Social Worker, in addition to special education staff. Students engage in insight-based therapeutic support.

Description from MCPS: (as of Feb. '23): Behavioral and Emotional Support Services are developed and implemented throughout MCPS for students who are experiencing behavioral and emotional challenges. Through the use of the multidisciplinary team, we empower students to reach their full potential. We will also develop student’s experiences in all classrooms through staff development, advocacy, and consultation. In an effort to provide comprehensive services to students experiencing significant emotional and/or behavioral difficulties, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has established these services to meet the needs of students in Grades K–12 who are experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties in school. By identifying developmentally appropriate learning strategies and interventions based on current research, staff addresses each individual’s needs in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

Click here to read more about MCPS SESES program.


Carl Sandburg Learning Center (CSLC)

(Serves both certificate- and diploma-bound students)

Location: Co-located with Maryvale Elementary School

Students: Students are significantly below grade level and behavioral factors typically impede their access to the curriculum. Students have a variety of disability codes. The majority of students, but not all, are on the certificate track, following the Alternate Academic Learning Outcomes (ALO) curriculum.

Learning Environment: CSLC is a separate day-school where students have no access to typically developing peers. Thus, placement at CSLC requires a Central IEP meeting.

Staffing: 1 special education teacher and 1 paraeducator for approximately 6 students.

Special features: Close collaboration of teaching staff with related service providers; access to Occupational Therapy room.

Description from MCPS: (as of Aug. '22): Carl Sandburg Learning Center is a special education school that serves students with multiple disabilities in Grades K–5, including intellectual disabilities, ASD, language disabilities, and emotional and other learning disabilities. Services are designed for elementary students who need a highly structured setting, small student-to-teacher ratio, and access to the MCPS general education curriculum or ALOs aligned with the curriculum. Modification of curriculum materials and instructional strategies, based on students’ needs, is the basis of all instruction. Emphasis is placed on the development of language, academic, and social skills provided through an in class trans-disciplinary model of service delivery in which all staff members implement the recommendations of related service providers. Special emphasis is placed on meeting the sensory and motor needs of students in their classroom setting. To address behavioral goals, services may include a behavior management system, psychological consultation, and crisis intervention.

Click here to read more about the MCPS Carl Sandburg Learning Center.

Click here to see the Carl Sandburg Learning Center website.


Certificate-Bound Elementary Services (Grades K-5)


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

Different students require different levels of support at school. The programs below are listed generally in order from least to most support. 


Learning for Independence (LFI)

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

Students: Students have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities and follow the Alternate Academic Learning Outcomes curriculum. Students have a variety of disability codes. Not all students are autistic.

Learning Environment: Self-contained classroom within a comprehensive elementary school. Students are included in general education classes as appropriate and/or provided with opportunities for peer tutoring.

Staffing: 1 special education teacher and 1 paraeducator for 12 students.

Description from MCPS: (as of Aug. '22): 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 the curriculum. 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. They learn functional life skills in the context of the general school environment and in community settings.

Click here to read more about MCPS Learning for Independence.


Autism Services

(Sometimes referred to as “Classic Autism Services)

Locations: Bells Mill E.S., Cannon Road 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., Kensington Parkwood E.S.,  S. Christa McAuliffe E.S., Meadow Hall E.S., Roscoe Nix E.S., Rock Creek Forest E.S., Rosemary Hills E.S., Sherwood E.S., Strawberry Knoll E.S., Westover E.S.

Students: Students have a diagnosis of autism and need significant modifications and accommodations to access the Alternate Academic Learning Outcomes curriculum, as well as direct, systematic instruction in all academic, functional, and social skill areas.

Learning Environment: All classes are self-contained within a comprehensive elementary school. Students may have exposure to typically developing peers through the school’s Best Buddies program and/or peer support programs, depending on the particular location. Instruction is delivered via individualized discrete trial instruction, group instruction, and community-based instruction. Incorporates consistent routines, visual supports, motivation systems, and daily instruction on behaviors and adaptive skills.

Staffing: 1 special education teacher and 2 paraeducators per 6 students.

Description from MCPS: (as of Feb. '23): The Elementary Autism classes are self-contained classrooms in comprehensive elementary school buildings. Students served by this model have a diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder and need significant learning and social supports as a result of their disability. The classrooms offer a highly-structured school day and individualized learning opportunities. Curriculum is modified as appropriate to support student strengths and needs. There is a continuing emphasis on the development of language, social skills, and student independence. The teaching procedures are based on Applied Behavior Analysis. Students participate with non-disabled peers, as appropriate.

Click here to read more about MCPS Elementary Autism Services.


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.

Students: Students have profound intellectual disabilities and/or multiple disabilities. Students have a variety of disability codes. Not all students are autistic.

Learning Environment: Self-contained classroom within a comprehensive elementary school. Focus of instruction is individualized for each student and may include instruction in related community environments.

Staffing: 1 special education teacher and 2 paraeducators for 8 students.

Description from MCPS: (as of Feb. '23): 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.

Click here to read more about MCPS School Community-Based Program.


Carl Sandburg Learning Center (CSLC)

(Serves both certificate- and diploma-bound students)

Location: Co-located with Maryvale Elementary School

Students: Students are significantly below grade level and behavioral factors typically impede their access to the curriculum. Students have a variety of disability codes. The majority of students, but not all, are on the certificate track, following the Alternate Academic Learning Outcomes (ALO) curriculum.

Learning Environment: CSLC is a separate day-school where students have no access to typically developing peers. Thus, placement at CSLC requires a Central IEP meeting.

Staffing: 1 special education teacher and 1 paraeducator for approximately 6 students.

Special features: Close collaboration of teaching staff with related service providers; access to Occupational Therapy room.

Description from MCPS: (as of Aug. '22): Carl Sandburg Learning Center is a special education school that serves students with multiple disabilities in Grades K–5, including intellectual disabilities, ASD, language disabilities, and emotional and other learning disabilities. Services are designed for elementary students who need a highly structured setting, small student-to-teacher ratio, and access to the MCPS general education curriculum or ALOs aligned with the curriculum. Modification of curriculum materials and instructional strategies, based on students’ needs, is the basis of all instruction. Emphasis is placed on the development of language, academic, and social skills provided through an in class trans-disciplinary model of service delivery in which all staff members implement the recommendations of related service providers. Special emphasis is placed on meeting the sensory and motor needs of students in their classroom setting. To address behavioral goals, services may include a behavior management system, psychological consultation, and crisis intervention.

Click here to read more about the MCPS Carl Sandburg Learning Center.

Click here to see the Carl Sandburg Learning Center website.


Extensions Program

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

Students: Students have significant cognitive disabilities and/or multiple disabilities as well as interfering behaviors that require systematic support. Educational programming focuses on helping students acquire communication and social skills appropriate for accessing the Alternate Academic Learning Outcomes curriculum. Students have a variety of disability codes. Not all students are autistic.

Learning Environment: Self-contained classroom within a comprehensive elementary school.

Staffing: 1 special education teacher and 2 paraeducators per 6 students. Some students may require 1:1 support in addition to the regular classroom staffing.

Description from MCPS: (as of Feb. '23): Extensions Program serves students of elementary, middle, and high school age with 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 read more about MCPS Extensions Program.


 
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