Special Education Services
The Jefferson County Schools Special Education Department’s purpose is to promote individualized educational services and programs for students with identified special education needs. The department is committed to ensuring that all students reach their maximum potential in order to transition successfully into adulthood.
- Comprehensive Development Classroom (CDC)
- Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)
- Occupational and Physical Therapy
- Psychological Services
- Speech and Language
As Special Education personnel, we believe the role of our department is to:
- Identify students with special needs, create maximum learning opportunities and foster high expectations;
- Create a collaborative relationship between parents, teachers, students, administration, and support staff;
- Promote individualized instructional techniques and supports for students;
- Access general education curriculum through inclusion;
- Utilize technology as an instructional tool for students and teachers.
The Special Education Department provides a continuum of services to students with disabilities. We start with the premise that the general education classroom is the first consideration for all students. Based on that premise, services intensify depending upon the IEP developed and the services identified as necessary to meet the students’ individual needs. The CDC classroom is one service delivery model on that continuum.
Students enrolled in CDC classrooms have been identified as needing a small, structured environment where core academic areas are addressed at the student’s instructional level while still integrating curriculum standards. Typically, students in this environment have deficits across the curriculum that are significantly below grade level. These students might have significant cognitive deficits as well. In addition to emphasizing academic progress, teachers focus on social skills, self-help skills, and self-advocacy skills. The advantage of this model is that students have the opportunity to become familiar with their peers and their teacher(s) remain consistent for at least one school year.
The CDC classroom is available at all schools in Jefferson County with the exception of Talbott Elementary. The department makes every effort to maintain a small pupil to teacher ratio in CDC classes. Classrooms are staffed with instructional assistants. Students served in these classes still have access to school resources and activities that are appropriate and beneficial for them. Placement in a Comprehensive Development Classroom (CDC) is and IEP team decision.
“Intellectually Gifted” means a child whose intellectual abilities and potential for achievement are so outstanding the child’s educational performance is adversely affected. “Adverse affect” means the general curriculum alone is inadequate to appropriately meet the student’s educational needs.
Eligibility for services as a gifted student is based on evaluation in each of the following component areas: Educational Performance, Creativity/Characteristics of Intellectual Giftedness, and Cognition/Intelligence. The referral process is a systematic screening and evaluation process. Referrals for screening may be made by parents, teachers, or grade level screenings at the school level.
Upon determination of eligibility for services, an IEP (Individual Education Program) is formulated for each individual student.
Inclusion is the educational practice of educating children with disabilities in classrooms with children without disabilities. In the inclusion classroom, students identified with special needs spend most or all of their time with non-disabled students. Although implementation of these practices can vary from school to school, it is most frequently used for selected students with disabilities that range from mild to severe special needs. A child receiving special education services may participate fully in the same program as the general education children with supports from the special education teacher, or may participate in a limited way, as they are able.
Occupational and Physical Therapy services are included in the “related service” provided by the IDEA. The intent for the provision of occupational and physical therapy is to ensure that an eligible child who requires these services in order to benefit from special education receives the needed services.
Referrals for occupational and/or physical therapy services are made through the IEP process and require a physician’s order prior to evaluation. Evaluations and any related service recommendations are based on the individual student’s IEP goals and objectives. Occupational and/or physical therapy services will address functional school-related goals in the least restrictive environment.
Occupational and/or physical therapy services may include, but not limited to: staff training, teacher/staff consultation, team meetings, student contacts, and provision of adaptive equipment. The focus of occupational therapy is generally fine and visual/perceptual motor, sensory motor, independence with self-help skills, organizational skills, handwriting and alternatives, and adaptive equipment needs within the school setting. The focus of physical therapy is generally on functional mobility, positioning, an accessibility as well as provision and consultation related to the use of adaptive equipment and mobility devices within the school environment. Occupational and/or physical therapy services are provided within the school environment.
Occupational and/or physical therapy, as a related service, provides identified students with individualized educationally-based evaluations and interventions. Through collaboration, education, and communication with all team members (including parents), our goal is to increase a student’s functional independence; and contribute to a student’s positive transition into adult life.
The occupational and physical therapy department as a related service believes our role is to:
- Foster the student’s potential for functional independence and learning so they may successfully transition into adulthood.
- Provide identified students with educationally based therapeutic interventions
- Acknowledge and validate each student’s unique strengths, needs, and desires
- Educate, collaborate, and communicate with parents, students, teachers, administrators, support staff, and community regarding occupational and/or physical therapy
- Maintain professional excellence at all times
Jefferson County Schools currently provides support services for preschool children with special needs at two sites-Jefferson Elementary and Dandridge Elementary. Both sites provide a loving, learning environment with emphasis on language development.
An initial assessment identifies children appropriate for the classrooms. Both classrooms provide occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech/language therapy as needed. Our goal is to equip the children with the social and academic skills necessary to attend kindergarten.
Our purpose in assessment/psychological services is to facilitate positive change and enhance learning and emotional well-being through assessment, data-driven decision-making, and collaboration with all stakeholders, enabling students to successfully transition into adulthood. We believe in the unique potential of our students, families, and school communities and therefore hold ourselves to high ethical standards always acting in the best interest of the student.
As school assessment specialists we believe our role is to:
- Enhance learning opportunities of students through communication regarding strengths and needs
- Work collaboratively with all stakeholders to develop effective learning communities within a continuum of services through data-driven decision-making
- Review and assess the needs of the student that impact the educational experience, including motivation, cognitive skills, emotional state, cultural background, and family and health factors
- Analyze and interpret data for the purpose of assisting staff in developing effective academic programs and positive behavior interventions
- Foster positive and cooperative relationships between special education and general education
- Assist students to enhance their academic and social/emotional development
- Successfully transition students through their academic career and into adulthood
Resource rooms are classrooms (sometimes smaller classrooms) where a special education program can be delivered to a student with a disability. It is for the student who qualifies for either a special class or regular class placement but needs some special instruction in an individualized or small group setting for a portion of the day. Individual needs are supported in resource rooms as defined by the student’s IEP. This type of support can be referred to as “Resource” or “pull out.” The student getting this type of support will receive support in the resource room and instruction in the regular classroom with accommodations and modifications. This type of support helps ensure that the inclusion model remains in place.
Resource rooms are all about meeting the student’s needs. The resource room tends to be less distracting than the regular education classroom setting. Many resource rooms support the social needs of students in a smaller group setting and will provide behavior interventions. Students may be assessed and tested in this setting due to minimal distractions.
Jefferson County School’s speech and language personnel assess, identify, and plan programs for students with communication disabilities. Our goal is to identify student needs, support student education, and facilitate student development throughout the years.
The speech/language pathologist (SLP) is responsible for identifying and serving students and assisting other educators in their efforts to improve learning. Speech pathologists participate in RTI team meetings as needed. Screening language, articulation, voice, fluency, and/or hearing as requested, they provide intervention strategies and services as indicated prior to completing comprehensive evaluations. The SLPs participate in Individual Education Program (IEP) team meetings and assist the IEP team in determining eligibility for services and in designing an appropriate IEP. They may serve as Case Manager when appropriate. They prepare speech and language program services complimenting the general education curriculum and provide support for skills impacted by the student’s speech/language disability.
The speech/language pathologists review field tests and share information regarding new diagnostic tests, instructional materials and service delivery strategies.
For special education purposes, transition is the change from secondary education to post-secondary programs, work, and independent living. Transition services aid students in this process through a coordinated set of activities that are designed within a results-oriented process., which promotes movement from school to post-school activities including: measurable post-secondary goals in:
- Postsecondary education/training
- Independent or supported living
- Community involvement
- Based upon the individual student’s strengths, preferences, and interests
- Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, employment and/or adult living objectives and, when appropriate daily living skills
- Objectives and functional vocational evaluation