Alternative Program K-8

Population Served

The CASE Collaborative Alternative Program serves students with average or above average intellectual abilities who experience social, emotional, and/or behavioral difficulties, and have been unable to make adequate academic and social/emotional progress in the general education setting.

Students served in the CASE Alternative Program may have one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Poor impulse control
  • Difficulty remaining on-task
  • Difficulty with transitions
  • Low tolerance for frustration
  • Difficulty managing conflict
  • Underdeveloped social skills
  • Emotional and behavioral self-regulation difficulties
  • Difficulty following the agenda of others
  • Inflexible behavior
  • Oppositional behavior
  • Poor relationships with peers and/or adults
  • Difficulty dealing with stress and/or anxiety
  • Difficulty modulating moods

 

Program Description

Students from kindergarten through eighth grade are enrolled in self-contained classes which are housed in member school districts. The CASE Alternative Program includes a primary class, an intermediate level class, an upper elementary class, and a middle school program that is team taught by two teachers.

The CASE Alternative Program offers highly structured therapeutic classes that are academically challenging while also remaining supportive and sensitive to the individual needs of each student.

There are four primary components of the classrooms in the CASE Alternative Program:

  1. Each class has a challenging curriculum which mirrors the academic expectations of the host school and is aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, ensuring students access to the general education curriculum.
  2. Each class is based on the therapeutic milieu model which emphasizes support, structure, and consistent expectations for all students throughout the school day. Each interaction students have is an opportunity for them to learn and build new skills.
  3. CASE classes foster a sense of community and belonging in which students feel respected, cared for, and valued as people and capable learners.
  4. Behavior management is based on classroom values of safety, respect, and responsibility. Students are supported by the individualized use of various behavior interventions, which all emphasize skill-building and increasing self-control and self-management.

The staff utilizes a team model in providing therapeutic intervention services to students. The team includes the counselor, teachers, administrator, parents/guardians, other school personnel, and professionals from collateral agencies who may be working with a student and his/her family. Consistent communication among all team members enables students to receive the most comprehensive and individualized educational services needed to address their needs.

The counselor and teacher use a variety of strategies to cultivate a class culture that fosters a sense of safety, respect and appreciation of others. In addition, each student is provided individual therapy sessions and weekly group counseling with the program counselor.

Parents/guardians are asked to sign a release of information allowing the counselor to be in contact with the student’s outside providers (e.g., therapist, psychiatrist, social worker, etc.). It is important that program staff and outside providers work collaboratively to offer the most comprehensive and unified treatment opportunities.

A comprehensive behavior management system is provided for students for whom structure and external limits are important elements in helping them manage and contain their behavior. A daily point system, individual and group behavioral contracts, positive reinforcement, and other forms of behavioral management strategies may be utilized to assist students with self-regulation and self-control issues.

An important goal for every student is to gain an increasing awareness of his or her strengths and challenges. The educational climate within each classroom is designed to promote learning by:

  1. Creating a comfortable, non-threatening, caring environment for learning;
  2. Engaging students personally through the use of journals, discussion, sharing, reflection; and
  3. Helping students recognize and use adaptive coping and problem-solving strategies.

 

Curriculum

The curriculum for the class is determined by students’ IEPs and is designed to mirror the general education curriculum and academic expectations, as well as to meet the guidelines of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Highly specialized instruction is provided to students individually and in small groups. Instructional methodology, strategies and accommodations are designed to preserve the integrity of the curriculum while meeting students’ individual learning needs. Students participate in mandated standardized testing, i.e., MCAS, with appropriate accommodations as specified in their IEPs.

 

Inclusion Opportunities

While the model of each class is that of a self-contained structure, inclusion in general education classes is possible and encouraged. Some students require the structure and therapeutic support of the CASE classroom for the entire school day, while other students participate in one or more general education classes, as determined by their individual needs and abilities. They are included in general education classes and activities with their grade level peers, as deemed appropriate by the Team. Students are always supervised and supported by a CASE staff member in any of the inclusionary classes.

The goal for all students in the CASE Alternative Program is to develop the necessary academic and social skills to enable them to be included in general education classes. Each student in a CASE Alternative class is assigned by grade to a general education class(es) or team in the school. Opportunities exist for students to be included in academic and non-academic classes and activities, including extracurricular activities, as deemed appropriate by the student’s special education Team. CASE Alternative Program staff/administrator and host school staff/administrator work together to address issues that may preclude a student from participating in any school-wide event or activity.

Close monitoring of student progress, as well as consistent communication between CASE Alternative Program staff and host school staff occurs to ensure the success of the students’ inclusion experiences.

 

Home/School Connections

Regular communication among the teacher, the counselor, and parents/guardians regarding student progress is critical to student success. Parents/guardians and staff establish a communication system that meets their individual needs.

Parent/ guardian and counselor meetings are available for parents/guardians seeking additional support during periods of increased stress or crisis. Parents/guardians may also meet with the teacher and counselor on a regular basis to address their needs in supporting the growth and progress of their student. When appropriate, the counselor may assist parents/guardians in obtaining outside services (e.g., counseling).

In the event that a student needs crisis intervention services beyond the scope of what can be provided in a school setting, e.g., psychiatric hospitalization, Department of Children and Families, Department of Mental Health, CASE Alternative Program staff assists parents/guardians in accessing these services.

Program staff recognizes the valuable resource parents/guardians can be for other parents/guardians. The counselor will facilitate opportunities to bring parents/guardians together to capitalize on this resource, allowing parents/guardians to support and guide one another.

 

Extended School Year

A five-week summer option is available for students in kindergarten through grade six whose IEPs call for an extended year program. The CASE Extended School Year Program, which is held at the air-conditioned Russell Street Elementary School in Littleton, addresses the students' IEP goals and benchmarks over the summer in much the same way manner as the regular school year program.

A six-week summer option is available to students in grades six through eight whose IEPs call for an extended year program. The CASE-Camp Triumph Program, which is held at the air-conditioned Davis School in Bedford allows students to access all components of Camp Triumph, a specialized summer day program for students with social/emotional/behavioral challenges. Additionally, students receive small group tutoring in English language arts and/or mathematics to prevent regression of academic skills in these areas.

Inclusionary programming is not available during the summer session.

 

Staffing and Services

  • DESE Certified Special Education Teachers
  • Adjustment Counselors/Social Workers
  • Speech and Language Therapists
  • Occupational Therapists
  • Physical Therapists
  • Reading Specialists
  • Teaching Assistants
  • CETT (Assistive Technology Team)
  • Others as required by students’ IEPs (e.g., Nurse, BCBA consultation, Teacher of the Deaf consultation)

 

Referrals

Placement in all CASE programs follows consensus by the sending school district, parent/guardian, and CASE staff. Current, signed IEP and placement pages are required for enrollment in all CASE classes. Referrals to a CASE program are initiated by the school district. Parents/ guardians may obtain additional information about this or other CASE classes by contacting the special education office in their school district. District personnel may obtain additional information, including a referral form, by contacting the CASE Office as noted below.

Sandra Daigneault
Assistant Director
(978) 318-1536 FAX (978) 371-7858
sdaigneault@casecollaborative.org