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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 (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 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.

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


Learning and Academic Disabilities (LAD)

Locations: Available in all Middle and High Schools

Students: Students may be at or below grade level. Students have a variety of disability codes. Not all students are autistic.

Learning Environment: Students can enroll in co-taught, supported, or self-contained classes, depending on their level of need. Students may enroll in a resource period for additional support in academics or executive functioning. Students may enroll in a reading intervention class if needed for additional reading instruction. Related services (speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling) are available in all locations.

Staffing: 1 special education teacher and 1 paraeducator for 20 students.

Description from MCPS: (as of Jan. '23): LAD services are available in all secondary schools in MCPS. 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.


Aspergers Connections 

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

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

Students: Students have an autism diagnosis and are typically at or above grade level. Students are motivated to perform academically, but typically require support due to difficulties with task initiation, organization, and cognitive rigidity.

Learning Environment (Middle School): Students are mainstreamed in co-taught or supported classes. Program paraeducators accompany students to general education classes. Students with written expression challenges have the option of a self-contained English course. In some circumstances, self-contained math may be an option. Middle school students have two resource periods — one dedicated to social skills instruction and the other to executive functioning and academic support. Social skills instruction is generally taught at an abstract (rather than practical) level.

Learning Environment (High School): Students are typically mainstreamed in co-taught or supported classes. Options for self-contained classes vary from year to year. Ninth grade students usually enroll in two resource periods, both of which are to provide executive functioning and academic support. In 10th–12th grade students typically have one resource period. No social skills instruction is offered.

Special features: Students can enroll in Honors and Advanced Placement courses. Honors classes are sometimes co-taught or supported, but AP courses are seldom supported or co-taught.

Description from MCPS: (as of Jan. '23): The Secondary Aspergers classes are based in comprehensive middle and high 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 behavior needs which have significantly interfered with their ability to participate in other educational environments, despite a variety of special and individualized supports. Students are included in all academic classes in the general education with supports for their social, behavioral, and organization needs. In addition to their academic classes, students participate in a pupil enrichment class daily that focuses on the direct teaching of social skills.

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

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: Students have an autism diagnosis and are typically 2–3 years below grade level.

Learning Environment: Students are taught in self-contained classrooms for English and math, but attend history, science, and electives in the general education setting with paraeducator support. A reading intervention class is also offered for those students who need reading instruction. Middle school students have a resource period, which encompasses social skills. Social skills are typically taught in response to social issues that have arisen in their group. Ninth grade students usually enroll in two resource periods, one for social skills and the other for executive functioning and academic support. Tenth to 12th grade students typically enroll in one resource period, which is for executive functioning and academic support.

Staffing: 1 teacher and 2 paraeducators for roughly 8 students (at Middle School Level).

Description from MCPS: (as of Aug. '22): Secondary Autism Resource Services, located in three middle and three high schools, are designed for students with ASD who are working toward a high school diploma and have difficulty mastering grade-level curriculum. The students require an adjusted pace and individual accommodations representative of the needs and characteristics of students with ASD. Students receive instruction in the general education curriculum with the supports indicated on their IEPs. Access to the general education curriculum with enrichment is reinforced.



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: Students are on grade level, but have significant social, emotional, and/or behavioral challenges that make it difficult to succeed in a large school environment. Students have a variety of disability codes. Not all students are autistic.

Learning Environment: Typically, most students start in self-contained classes. Students may opt for lunch in the cafeteria with general education peers or in the Bridge Services suite. As students demonstrate competency, they have the opportunity to take classes in the general education setting, with paraeducator support. Students participate in group counseling sessions twice a month. Comprehensive behavior management approaches are used, such as proactive teaching, rehearsal of social skills, and structured reinforcement systems.

Staffing: Each Bridge Program has a dedicated social worker. High school students have the opportunity to enroll in Honors classes.

Description from MCPS: (as of Aug. '22): Bridge is a set of services that supports students who demonstrate significant social emotional learning, and/or behavioral challenges that make it difficult to succeed in a large school environment. Many students require social and emotional supports in order to access their academic program. Comprehensive behavior management is utilized that includes proactive teaching and rehearsal of social skills, as well as the use of structured and consistent reinforcement systems. Services are provided in a continuum of settings that may include separate classes and opportunities for participation in general education classes with nondisabled peers as appropriate.



Certificate-Bound Secondary Services


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)

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.

Students: Students have mild to moderate intellectual disabilities and access 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 secondary school. Students are included in general education classes as appropriate and/or provided with opportunities for peer tutoring. Community-based instruction and vocational training are emphasized so that students are prepared for the transition to post-secondary opportunities upon graduating with a certificate from the school system.

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. Community-based instruction and career/college readiness 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.

Students: Students have profound intellectual disabilities and/or multiple disabilities. Focus of instruction is individualized for each student and may include instruction in related community and work environments. Students have a variety of disability codes. Not all students are autistic.

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

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

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

Click here to learn more about MCPS School Community-based Program.


Autism Services

(Sometimes referred to as "Classic 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: Students have a diagnosis of autism and need significant modifications and accommodations to access the Alternate Academic Learning Outcomes curriculum; students need systematic instruction in all academic, functional, and social skill areas.

Learning Environment: All classes are self-contained within a comprehensive middle or high school with additional instruction in community and vocational settings. Middle school students participate in community-based instruction and in-school prevocational tasks. High school students prepare for their transition to adulthood by engaging in community-based vocational tasks. Students may have exposure to typically developing peers through the school’s Best Buddies program and/or Unified Sports, depending on the location.

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

Description from MCPS: (as of Jan. '23): The Secondary Autism Program classes are self-contained classrooms in comprehensive middle and high 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. 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. In addition, the 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 their eventual transition to adult services.

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.

Students: Students have significant cognitive disabilities and/or multiple disabilities as well as interfering behaviors that require systematic support. Students have a variety of disability codes. Not all students are autistic.

Learning Environment: Self-contained classroom within a comprehensive secondary school. Educational programming focuses on helping students acquire communication and social skills appropriate for accessing the Alternate Academic Learning Outcomes curriculum.

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 Jan. '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 learn more about MCPS Extensions Program.


 
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