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DC Public Schools
 
 
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Academic Programs and Inclusion

DCPS provides a continuum of services for students ages three through 22 with disabilities who have been found eligible to receive special education services. There are different settings along the continuum where these services can be provided, and students learn in the least restrictive environment (LRE) possible.

visual scale of instruction compared to environment, detailed in the text below.

“Inside of general education” means that the specialized instruction and related services for students with disabilities will be served while they are with their peers without disabilities in the general classroom. DCPS believes that all students will benefit from including students with disabilities in a general education setting to the greatest extent possible.

Our goal is to help all students develop the skills they need to eventually learn in a general education classroom with their peers without disabilities. The goal of inclusion is to provide students with high-quality instruction that is aligned to grade-level expectations and gives them the opportunity to succeed in all areas. One important way inclusion happens is when a student’s special education needs are met in the general education classroom. 

“Outside of general education” refers to all specialized instruction and services that are provided to a class or grouping made up entirely of students with disabilities. Students with less than 20 hours of specialized instruction outside of general education in their IEPs generally receive services in a Learning Lab, also referred to as a resource room or pull-out services.  A Learning Lab is a classroom that is separate from the general education classroom where students with disabilities are given direct, specialized instruction and academic assistance. Students in this setting spend part of their time in the Learning Lab and part of their time in the general education setting with modifications and/or accommodations.

DCPS’s self-contained, districtwide classrooms provide specialized supports to students with 20 or more hours of specialized instruction outside of general education in their IEP. Our self-contained classrooms are designed to give more support to students with disabilities who have a high level of need.

Behavior Learning Supports (BLS) Program
The Behavior Learning Support (BLS) program is a non-categorical program designed to meet the complex learning needs of students who have been diagnosed with a specific learning disability (SLD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with a cognitive function range of 60 to 80, other health impairments (OHI) that require intensive specialized instruction. The program also supports students with emotional disturbance (ED) or who have moderate behavioral challenges that impede learning. Additionally, program supports include Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) and the implementation of Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) which serve to regulate behaviors identified on the FBA.

The BLS program instructional model follows the DCPS (District of Columbia Public Schools) Scope and Sequence for all subjects. Instruction is aligned to Common Core State Standards and scaffolded to meet individual student learning needs with accommodation provided to ensure access to the general education curriculum. Students in the BLS program have self-contained IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) (20+ hours of specialized instruction outside of general education). Students in the BLS program graduate with a High School Diploma.

Behavior and Education Support (BES) Program
The Behavior and Education Support (BES) program is designed to meet the individual needs of students with moderate to severe emotional and behavioral disorders. Students in the BES program exhibit behaviors that significantly interfere with learning and require intensive behavioral support and interventions. Program supports include Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs) and the implementation of Behavior Intervention Plans (BIPs) which serve to regulate extreme behaviors.

Instruction in the BES program follows the common core aligned DCPS general education curriculum with accommodations. DCPS Special education teachers in the BES program provide differentiated lessons and ensure that each student has access to individual accommodations and adapted text, as appropriate. Additionally, BES students take Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses to prepare for college and careers in competitive fields. 

Students in the BES program graduate with a High School Diploma.

Communication and Education Support (CES) Program
The Communication and Education Supports (CES) program is designed to meet the individual learning and behavioral needs of students with significant communication delays, and considerable to significant delays in all developmental areas. Students placed in the CES program receive communication development support, social-emotional skill development, adaptive and independence skills, and academic support. The CES program integrates an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) instructional framework that includes discrete trial instruction, natural environment training, prompting and fading, and reinforcement.  

The CES program primarily serves students whose intellectual functioning scaled score ranges from an upper limit of approximately 59 to 20. The disability classification of students in the CES program ranges from autism spectrum disorders, severe to profound intellectual disabilities, and developmental delays. The academic, social, and adaptive needs of these students cannot be addressed in general education setting or in self-contained programs that serve students with mild to moderate disabilities.

Students in the CES program graduate with a High School Achievement Certificate (HSAC).

Early Learning Supports (ELS) Program
The Early Learning Support (ELS) program is designed to meet the individual learning and behavioral needs of students with developmental delays, mild to moderate behavioral issues, and mild communication delays. Students in the ELS program require a range of related services, such as speech and language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and social emotional supports. The ELS program primarily serves students whose intellectual functioning scaled score ranges from an upper limit of approximately 75 to 35.

Independence and Learning Support (ILS) Program
The Independence and Learning Support (ILS) program is designed to meet the individual learning and adaptive functioning needs of students with intellectual disabilities. Students placed in the ILS program receive modified instruction in literacy and numeracy, adaptive and daily living skills, social emotional development. Most students require a range of related services, such as speech and language therapy, assistive technology, adaptive physical education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and transportation.  Students with complex medical needs and severe to profound intellectual disabilities may be considered for River Terrace Education Campus separate day school which serves students beginning in 3rd grade to Age 22.

The ILS program primarily serves students whose intellectual functioning scaled score ranges from an upper limit of approximately 55 to 20. The disability classification of students in the ILS program ranges from moderate to severe intellectual disabilities, and mild to moderate autism spectrum disorders. The academic, social, and adaptive needs of these students cannot be addressed in the general education setting or in self-contained programs that serve students with learning and emotional disabilities.

Students in the ILS program graduate with a High School Achievement Certificate (HSAC).

Medical and Education Support (MES) Program
The Medical and Education Support (MES) program is designed to meet the individual needs of students who have complex medical conditions and severe to profound cognitive impairments. Students placed in the MES program receive modified instruction in literacy and numeracy, adaptive and independence skills. Most students require a range of related services, such as speech and language therapy, assistive technology, adaptive physical education, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and transportation. Students with complex medical needs and severe to profound intellectual disabilities may be considered for River Terrace Education Campus separate day school which serves students beginning in 3rd grade to Age 22.
 
The MES program primarily serves students with complex medical conditions whose intellectual functioning scaled score ranges from an upper limit of approximately 50 to below 20. The disability classification of students in the MES program ranges from autism spectrum disorders, severe to profound intellectual disabilities, and significant developmental delays. The academic, social, and adaptive needs of these students cannot be addressed in general education setting or in self-contained programs that serve students with mild to moderate disabilities. 

Students in the MES program graduate with a High School Achievement Certificate.

Specific Learning Supports (SLS) Program
The Specific Learning Support (SLS) program is designed to meet the complex learning needs of students who have been diagnosed with a specific learning disability (SLD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) with a cognitive function range of 60 to 80, and other health impairments (OHI) that require intensive specialized instruction. 

The SLS program instructional model follows the DCPS Scope and Sequence for all subjects. Instruction is aligned to Common Core State Standards and scaffolded to meet individual student leaning needs with accommodations provided to ensure access to the general education curriculum. 

Students in the SLS program graduate with a High School Diploma.
 

Sensory Support Programs

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHOH) Program
The DHOH Program uses Common Core aligned instruction to prepare students for employment and long-term independence. Community business partnerships and transition planning are key pieces of the DHOH program. In addition to the Common Core curriculum, students who are deaf/hard of hearing access the expanded core curriculum, which includes instruction in daily living skills, functional academic skills, sensory efficiency skills, communication skills, social skills, community access skills, assistive technology skills, access to public transportation skills, self-advocacy skills, and career education. Students who are Deaf-blind receive braille literacy and numeracy instruction, as well as orientation and mobility training. Most deaf students receive their instruction in American Sign Language (ASL), while others may only require the use an interpreter to access instruction. Based on individual need, students may receive audiology services.

Participation in the DHOH Program does not constitute a more restrictive educational placement outside of general education setting. Deaf students with average to above average cognitive abilities receive most of their instruction in inclusion alongside their non-disabled peers. A self-contained program outside of general education is considered for deaf students with below average cognitive abilities or multiple disabilities, including Deaf-Blindness.

Vision Program
The goal of the DCPS Vision Program is to provide supports and instruction that target the unique challenges experienced by students who are blind or visually impaired. Instruction is based on best practices and is aligned with the Common Core State Standards and Expanded Core Curriculum.

The functional vision learning media assessments (FVLMA) provides information on the educational impact of a student’s vision impairment, including near and distant visual functioning, assistive technology (AT), and visual fields. It also assesses the student’s ability to access and use different learning media in reading and writing. This may include Braille, large print, AT, and auditory materials. An eye medical report is required to determine if an assessment is needed. The FVLMA are used in conjunction with other assessment tools such as the eye report, psychological, educational, and classroom observations to determine eligibility. 

Orientation and Mobility (O&M) Instructors and Teachers of Students with Visual Impairments (TSVI) monitor progress on student goals regularly and contribute ongoing information to the IEP team’s existing data when re-evaluation is conducted.

The graduation pathway of students who receive services in sensory support programs is determined by the IEP team.

For more information on special education programs and services in DCPS, please refer to the DCPS Special Education Family Programs and Resources Guide.