Elementary and Middle


Grades K-5 Inclusion

Specially designed instruction (SDI) is, in simplest terms, instruction that is tailored to a particular student. SDI addresses a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals, accounts for their disability, provides modifications or adaptations to content, and supports access to the general education curriculum.  SDI is provided by licensed special educators in the areas of reading, writing, mathematics or other academic areas.

SDI can be provided either in a student’s general education classroom or, if necessary, in a different setting within the school.  Decisions regarding the type of setting that are best for the student to receive SDI are made by the student’s team based on the least restrictive setting (LRE) needed for the students to benefit from the instruction.  Students may also receive related services such as speech/language, occupational therapy, physical therapy, adaptive physical education, and counseling if needed for the student to successfully access classroom instruction.  Similar to SDI, related services may be provided in or outside of the general education classroom depending on the type of setting needed for the student to benefit from their services.


Broadmeadow, Grades 3- 5

Connections is the District’s specialized therapeutic program designed to support students with social-emotional and behavioral challenges. Connections provides a therapeutic classroom model, with inclusion opportunities, for students who, because of learning, social-emotional and behavioral difficulties are unable to participate fully in their grade-level classroom. The program provides intensive support from a special education teacher and consultation to the general education teacher. The therapeutic approach often includes a positive behavioral support plan for a student, which is based on the student’s needs, individual motivators and educational goals for the student. Students are provided counseling and other related services (Occupational Therapy, Speech and Language), in order to support their involvement in the general education  program. The program is supported by a special educator, clinician, BCBA, and teaching assistants. 

Prior to a referral to the Connections program a student's home school special education team has completed a functional behavioral analysis, developed a behavior support plan and used response data in determining the need for a more restrictive program.

Intensive Learning Center (ILC)

Newman and Sunita Williams, Grades K-5

The Intensive Learning Center ("ILC") provides an opportunity for students with significant learning difficulties to learn and participate with their age-peers in general education classrooms and receive specialized instruction in identified areas: language and social skills, cognitive, motor development as well as behavioral intervention in a sub-separate classroom. The program is individualized to each student’s abilities and needs. Students benefit from a flexible inclusion model and are educated in the substantially separate classroom and, when appropriate, the general education classroom. 

The ILC serves students who require intensive instruction (between 1:1 and 1:3 ratio) and significant modification of the general education curriculum in order to make effective progress. Students served may be diagnosed with autism, severe communication disorders or delays, intellectual or developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, neurological impairments and/or global developmental delays. 

The ILC program consists of special educators, related service providers in the areas of speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy and adapted physical education, as identified by the IEP team and consistent with a student's assessed areas of need. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst also supports the program. 

Language-Based Classroom (LBC)

Eliot School, Grades 4-5

The Language Based Classroom (LBC) provides a structured, small group setting in which students with significant learning disabilities can focus on the skills of listening, reading, mathematical thinking and calculating, vocabulary development, comprehending and organizing oral and written language and comprehending written material. The classroom follows the Needham Public Schools’ curriculum guidelines and provides students with individualized and small group instruction throughout the school day. Just like all elementary classrooms in Needham, the LBC follows the structure of the Responsive Classroom, providing a community building opportunity within this small class setting. LBC serves students with moderate to severe learning disabilities, which may include, but are not limited to, specific learning disability, language-processing disorder, neurological impairment and/or various identified weaknesses in executive functioning skills. These students’ progress in the general education/special education program indicates that a more intensive model for instruction in all subject areas is warranted. Emphasis is on reaching grade level competence in reading and writing and math and using strategies to support the organization of oral and written language across the curriculum. The LBC classroom is supported by a special education teacher and teaching assistant, as well as related service providers (speech, OT, counseling) as outlined in a student's IEP. 


All curricula taught at the middle school level follows the standards specified in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks while at the same time provides individual students with the support, modifications and accommodations students require in order to make effective progress. Students’ programs are individualized for inclusion in subject specific general education classes as well as electives and lunch in accordance with their IEPs.

Skills Centers

The Learning Centers provide academic support for students on IEPs who are included in general education classes for the four core academic subjects. The goals of the Learning Centers are to address the learning goals of the students' IEPs by teaching evidenced based data driven strategies through academic support, teaching students how to learn and how to use their strengths to compensate individual areas) of difficulty, helping students develop self awareness/advocacy, and supporting students to gain independence in managing their academic responsibilities.

The Learning Center is designed for students with mild to moderate learning, communication, health or other disabilities. Students who attend the Learning Centers require specialized instruction to allow them to access the general curriculum.


The Bridges Program provides a structured environment with clear and consistent routines.   Academics are tailored to student needs.  Students often participate in a combination of General Education (SS/Sci) and Pull-Out classes (ELA/Math).    The student to staff ratios are low to ensure educational success. The program provides social, academic, functional academic (i.e: money & time skills), pre-vocational, and recreational activities (i.e  going into the community to make small purchases). These opportunities enhance students' skills and allow increased success in all life skills areas.  Specially designed behavioral programs are implemented when necessary.

The Bridges program serves students with disabilities that include, but are not limited to expressive and receptive language processing issues, communication impairments, cognitive impairments, autism spectrum disorder and attentional difficulties. These disabilities significantly impact the student’s overall functioning. The Bridges program is supported by a special education teacher and teaching assistant, as well as related service providers (speech, OT, counseling) as outlined in a student's IEP. 

Intermediate Learning Center (ILC)

The Intermediate Learning Center (ILC) provides specially designed instruction for students with significant learning difficulties in a substantially separate setting, with a flexible inclusion model for students to learn alongside grade level peers when appropriate, students routinely attend advisory, lunch, and electives. Students receive 1:1 and small group intensive instruction in the sub-separate setting in the areas of cognitive skills, social skills, speech and language, occupational therapy, motor skills, and behavioral intervention. The ILC provides students with opportunities to practice life skills to increase independence in daily life, including purchasing routines, vocational roles, community safety, and hygiene. 

The program is individualized to each student’s specific learning and behavioral needs, instruction includes prompt hierarchies and discrete trial training. Students also participate in reverse inclusion and opportunities to participate in leisure activities with grade level peers.

The ILC serves students who require intensive instruction (between 1:1 and 1:3 ratio) with significant modifications of the general education curriculum in order to make effective progress. Students served may be diagnosed with autism, severe communication disorder or delay, physical disability, neurological impairment and/or global developmental delay. This program is supported by a special educator, teaching assistants, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and related service providers such as speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy, as identified by a students' IEP team and outlined in the IEP.


Insight is a program designed for students who require support in the area of social/language pragmatic and executive functioning skills. A special education liaison and/or teacher assistants support the IEP needs of students in classes or through a consultative format.  A specially designed learning center provides support for developing organizational strategies, re-teaching, breaking assignments down into manageable parts, clarification of directions, breaking down and simplifying language. The Speech and Language Pathologist provides individual and group lessons and consults to the program.  A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) provides consultation and support to students, teachers, and families.  

Insight is designed for students who have diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorders or Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD).  These students have a range of cognitive abilities alongside social pragmatic, social emotional, and executive function skills that are oftentimes far below grade level expectations.  

Language Based Program

The Language Based Program provides a highly structured environment with language-based instruction, consistent daily routines and positive reinforcement in a small, structured classroom for all or some of the academic subjects. The LB provides both substantially separate instruction in any of the four content areas or provides language based support for the curriculum material in inclusion general education subject classes, as designated in the students’ IEPs. There is a low student to staff ratio with staff working collaboratively in creating academic and social activities for whole classroom groups, as well as for individual students.

The Language Based program serves students with learning disabilities that significantly impact their ability to benefit from general education, due to difficulty in one or more of the following areas: receptive and/or expressive language, visual processing, reading, math, writing or attention skills. The Language Based program is staffed by special education teachers and teaching assistants. Students also receive related services as outlined in their IEPs.


The Connections Program is a therapeutic program for students who have significant difficulty in meeting the day-to-day demands of general education classrooms without significant social, emotional and behavioral support. The program has the flexibility, due to a high staff to student ratio (special education teachers, adjustment counselor, and multiple teaching assistants) and multiple classroom locations, to offer students self contained, inclusion or a combination of both settings as needed. Staff work collaboratively to create academic, therapeutic, social and recreational activities for classroom groups as well as individual students.

Connections serves students who exhibit social and emotional difficulties that sometimes result in disruptive classroom behaviors. These skill deficits are due to diagnosed neurological, emotional or behavioral disabilities. These students have average cognitive abilities, but may have learning disabilities, organizational and attention issues that greatly impact their performance in academic areas.

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