Special Education / Pupil Personnel Services
Special Education Contact: Pupil Personnel 860-572-2150
The Planning and Placement Team (PPT) at each school ensures that students meet the eligibility requirements of the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) and state regulations. It is also through the PPT process that the district ensures that all students with disabilities aged 3 through 22 who require special education and related services, who have not graduated with a regular high school diploma, receive a free and appropriate public education. The district develops a written plan for each student requiring special education and related services. This plan is called an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is developed, implemented, maintained, reviewed, revised and evaluated for all students served by our district.
All schools in the District provide specialized instruction and related services to students who are educated primarily with their nondisabled peers by special education teachers and other support staff. Services are provided in the general education classroom and/or in the resource room. Instructional support is provided to students on grade level standards with modifications and accommodations.
If the PPT determines that a student requires a more restrictive program in order to make progress, the team may consider placement in one of the District’s smaller, more individualized classrooms which are available at the preschool, elementary, middle, and high school levels.
Academy & New Beginnings Alternative Programs
The Academy (elementary and middle school) and New Beginnings Alternative Programs (FHS) specialize in teaching children and adolescents with a focus on their social, emotional, and behavioral skill development with a strengths based and solution focused classroom-wide plan. Students establish individual weekly goals on skills they are targeting for improvement and receive feedback throughout the day on their progress. Social skills instruction is provided in small groups and individually by a certified school social worker or school psychologist.
The autism programs (all levels) specialize in teaching children and adolescents with significant autism spectrum disabilities. In addition to the special education teacher and related services team a Board Certified Behavior Analyst consults on the development of an individual curriculum for each student. The multi-disciplinary team providing services to the student also includes a speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, and school psychologist. Instruction is delivered one to one and in small groups with a focus on student engagement and participation in learning tasks, social skills, and communication. Students complete activities of daily living in order to develop independence and generalization of skills.
Learning Skills ProgramsThe Learning Skills classes (all levels) specialize in teaching children with multiple disabilities and significant medical conditions. In addition to the special education teacher, a doctorate level consultant assists with developing modifications to the grade level standards and the provision of assistive technology so that students can access the curriculum on their instructional level. A speech and language pathologist and other related services staff provide support to students in communication, fine and gross motor skills and independent living skills.
The Integrated Preschool Special Needs Programs are designed to provide quality preschool programming as well as special education services to 3, 4 and 5 year old children in Groton. Special education and related services are provided to preschool children identified by the PPT as having a disability in accordance with their IEP. The programs also enroll typically developing peers to serve as role models for preschool children with disabilities. All preschool age children who are suspected of having a disability are screened and if necessary evaluated by the Early Childhood Assessment Team (ECAT) to determine eligibility for special education and related services.
The Transition Academy provides instruction to students who have achieved all of their credits required for graduation but who have not achieved their secondary transition goals and objectives. Instruction is provided in employment, post-secondary education and training and independent living skills. Academic instruction is embedded in secondary transition activities such as budget development, menu planning, cooking, and shopping. Students also learn employment skills while working as a small group at job sites in the community with supervision and coaching provided by the program staff.
Social work and psychological services are provided by certified school psychologists and certified school social workers who provide a range of services including support for all students and consultation and collaboration with educators, professionals and parents. School social workers and school psychologists work collaboratively with teachers and administrators to help create safe and supportive school environments, empower teachers to understand and respond to students’ social and emotional needs, develop and monitor academic and behavioral interventions to enable students to attain educational goals and personal-social well-being, and coordinate community services, outside providers and agency involvement to prevent problems, enhance independence and promote optimal learning.
School psychologists conduct individual assessments to provide information that is helpful in determining a student’s eligibility for special education and related services and in the development of individual academic and behavioral programs which maximize the student’s achievement and educational success.
Speech and language services are provided by certified speech and language pathologists to students who exhibit speech-language impairments that adversely affect educational performance in accordance with the IEP. Speech and language pathologists participate in the development and monitoring of alternative procedures and programs in general education which may be explored and implemented, where appropriate, before a child is referred to special education. When concerns about a child’s communication development continue despite the implementation of alternative interventions, speech and language pathologists conduct individual assessments to provide information that is helpful in determining a child’s eligibility for speech and language services as special education or a related service.
Physical and occupational therapy are provided in accordance with the student’s IEP and address delays in areas such as fine motor, gross motor, and sensory integration.
Special education transportation is provided as a related service in accordance with the student’s IEP.
Homebound instruction is provided for students who receive special education and related services when recommended by the PPT in accordance with the student’s IEP. Homebound instruction is also provided for any student for whom a physician has certified, in writing, that the student’s medical condition will cause an absence of at least three weeks’ duration. Instruction typically begins no later than two weeks from the first day of absence.
Early Intervention Prior to Referral to Special Education
Before school personnel refer a student to a Planning and Placement Team (PPT), alternative strategies and programs in general education are explored and where appropriate, implemented. Despite additional supports, a small number of children still may not make adequate progress in developing targeted skills. This may cause a family or a teacher to suspect that a child may have a disability, prompting a request for an evaluation to determine whether a child may require special education.
The Scientific Research-Based Intervention or SRBI process, involves providing students with high-quality instruction and interventions that are matched to student needs, monitoring progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals, and applying data to inform educational decisions. SRBI is a multi-tiered, layered instructional approach that aims to prevent learning impediments and behavioral problems first, and then brings increasingly intense interventions to students who continue to experience difficulty. The primary goal of SRBI is improving academic and behavioral outcomes for all students by eliminating discrepancies between actual and expected performances. Instructional decisions are made by school based teams and are focused on determining the extent to which the student is responding to the interventions based on a review of data that is collected over time.