Services for Students with Special Needs

The Connecticut State Board of Education believes that all students are unique and are influenced by cultural, linguistic, intellectual, psychological, medical, social and economic factors. These factors create a need for a varied educational environment that provides for, and accommodates, each child’s strengths and areas of needed improvement. The Board also believes that a unified and coordinated continuum of educational opportunities and supports, designed to address individual needs, serves and benefits all students. The Board encourages the implementation of educational models that promote multiple instructional strategies which encourage and accommodate students in the general environment to the maximum extent appropriate. It is the responsibility and obligation of educators to design and provide teaching strategies, methods and materials that are suitable for each individual learner. As appropriate, a continuum of these strategies should be implemented before a child is referred to special education. However, when a child is identified as in need of special education services, he or she is entitled to access any or all of the following special education services and programs in Connecticut schools.

Adaptive Physical Education Top of Page

A continuum of adapted physical education services that provides students the opportunity to receive instruction in the least restrictive environment. The physical education teacher provides support, consultation, and collaboration for students requiring specialized instruction in their physical education classes. The physical education teacher may also provide specialized instruction for students in self-contained adapted physical education classes.

Applied Behavior Analysis Program for Preschool, Elementary and Middle School Students with Autism Top of Page

A Pre K-8 Applied Behavior Analysis program has a primary objective of supporting the special education instruction of students with autism and related disorders through the use of principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of the principles of learning and motivation from the science of Behavior Analysis, and the procedures and technology derived from those principles. ABA is used to modify behaviors and teach new skills. Certified personnel provide ongoing training and direct support to school staff to enhance the delivery of services using ABA methodologies, including the development and implementation of individualized instructional curricula and behavioral programs, resulting in improved student outcomes.

Assessment Information (State Testing) Top of Page

All students, including those with disabilities, are required to be assessed on statewide accountability measures.  These assessments can be taken with or without accommodations as determined by the IEP team. In Connecticut, students with disabilities participate in statewide assessments in grades 3-8 and in grade 10 in the high school

Assistive Technology ServicesTop of Page

Technology is a part of the instructional program for all Sterling Community School District students. Assistive Technology Services (ATS) may include the use of computers, augmentative communication devices, and adaptive technology peripherals to maximize the potential of Sterling students with disabilities. 

Behavior Intervention ServicesTop of Page

Behavior Intervention Services provides comprehensive behavior intervention and support to school teams for students receiving general and/or special education services. Services are provided for students Pre-K through grade 8.
Sterling Community School behavior intervention services are committed to:
  • Providing collaborative behavioral support to teachers and school teams to help build capacity to meet the needs of a broad range of students.
  • Providing professional development opportunities for school staff in the design and implementation of research based behavior strategies.
  • Assisting school teams in the development, collection and analysis of data to provide informed, effective behavioral programming for students.
  • Providing school teams with student crisis intervention support.

Early Childhood Identification and Services Top of Page

The Sterling Community School District Preschool Program serves children ages 3 to 4 who may have been identified as having significant developmental delays in one or more of the following areas: speech, language, fine and/or gross motor, social/emotional, vision and hearing. Children who may be in need of special education or related services are referred to Child Find for information, developmental screenings and possible referral for additional comprehensive evaluations to determine eligibility for services.

The “mission” of the early childhood identification and services is a commitment to:
  • Providing family focused services.
  • Meeting the diverse needs of our children in the most appropriate environment.
  • Building positive relationships to enhance our children’s learning.
  • Providing quality services to improve our children’s learning through the use of developmentally appropriate best practice.
  • Expanding effective collaboration throughout the Sterling community.

Extended School Year (ESY)Top of Page

Extended school year (ESY) refers to special education and/or related services provided beyond the normal school year of a public agency for the purpose of providing a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student with a disability in accordance with the child’s IEP, at no cost to the family. The IEP team must discuss ESY services at an initial IEP meeting and at every annual IEP meeting. Team members may also discuss ESY services through an addendum to the annual IEP if necessary. School staff members, parent(s), and/or the student may request an IEP meeting at any time to discuss ESY services. ESY services are only necessary to FAPE when the benefits a disabled child gains during the regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if the child is not provided with an educational program during breaks in instruction. 

Special Education Procedural Support Top of Page

The IEP team may consist of parents; the student, as appropriate; the special education teacher; a related-services provider; a general education teacher if the student participates or may participate in general education classes; a representative of the school system who is qualified to provide or supervise special education services; and others as requested. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Connecticut special education regulations require that an IEP contain the following:
  • A statement of the child’s present levels of academic and functional performance, as well as any concerns of the parents.
  • A statement of measurable annual goals which may also include short-term objectives.
  • A description of how the child’s progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured, and when progress reports will be provided.
  • A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the student.
  • A statement concerning the extent to which the student will participate in general education.
  • A list of required curriculum, testing, and classroom accommodations and modifications.
  • A statement concerning the extent to which a student will participate in the district-wide and statewide assessment programs and accommodations that a student will need during testing. If the student will not participate in the assessments, the IEP must indicate how the student will be assessed.
  • The date when special services and modifications will begin and the frequency, location and duration of the services.
  • A statement of needed transition services for students 14 years of age, or younger if determined by the IEP team.

Physical and Occupational Therapy Program Top of Page

As related service providers, physical and occupational therapists (assistants) in Sterling Community School District work to assure that students in special education benefit from their educational program. Therapists work closely with teachers and other members of the school team to identify and establish solutions and/or adaptations that help students to participate as fully as possible in their school settings. As team members, therapists share information and integrate their specialized knowledge in child development, motor learning and task performance to provide a unique perspective within the educational environment.
The process of developing and achieving student goals is shared among team members, and may include: teachers, therapists, parents, student, instructional aides, and other school personnel, as needed. Interventions are provided as part of the student’s daily routine in the natural setting and may include: 
  • Adapting activities naturally occurring within the student’s routine.
  • Developing opportunities for the student to practice new motor skills
  • Positioning for school task performance.
  • Monitoring of adaptive equipment.
  • Problem solving with others to encourage motor development and independence.
Therapy time includes all anticipated therapist interactions pertaining to the individual student needs such as: 
  • Consultation and collaboration.
  • Equipment and task modifications/adaptations.
  • Hands on interventions.
  • Training in implementation of interventions and equipment.
A student’s need for occupational and physical therapy services may vary over the course of their educational career, related to changes in environmental and curricular demands, as well as changes in student roles and performance requirements. Any team member may request the expertise of the occupational and/or physical therapist regarding concerns that arise within the school environment.

Speech and Language Services Top of Page

The focus of the speech-language pathologist in our District is to facilitate the development of effective and efficient communication skills so that students may participate as fully as possible in educational, social, and vocational interactions. Working as members of school-based teams, the speech-language pathologist participates in the prevention, identification, assessment, evaluation, eligibility determination, treatment plan development, and treatment management of those students with disorders in the areas of speech and/or language.
Speech-language services are designed and delivered in a variety of ways across multiple settings to best meet the individual student’s needs. Decisions regarding particular service delivery models are based on a variety of factors including the type and/or severity of the weakness, its impact on the student’s ability to access the curriculum and/or effectively navigate through meaningful social interactions, and integration of services with educational experiences. Our speech-language pathologist and the team with which she consults strives to provide services that are…
  • curriculum based;
  • outcome oriented;
  • integrated with educational activities;
  • diagnostic in nature, dynamic and changing as the student’s needs change;
  • based on research-proven strategies; and 
  • designed to ensure access to the student’s curriculum.
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