Middle school is an exciting time for youngsters. Not since infancy will there be as many
changes as will occur during these next few years. It can be scary, frustrating and
wonderful all at the same time. By the time these students are ready to leave eighth
grade they will have matured and grown in so many ways. The purpose of this
handbook is to give parents an overview of the special education programs at the
middle school and answer those most asked questions.
The special education department in the middle school is dedicated to providing the
best possible programs for all our special education youngsters. We are here to bridge
the gap between elementary school and high school.
Transition from the Elementary School
During the spring of your child’s fifth grade year, the middle school Child Study Team
visits with the elementary school teachers and Child Study Team to obtain information
about each classified student. Academic levels of functioning, strengths, and
weaknesses, work habits; instructional needs, successful learning techniques, social
development, medical/physical needs, and program recommendations are shared.
Each child’s special needs are given consideration when a placement decision is made
for fifth grade.
Near the end of fifth grade, a visit to the middle school is scheduled for students to ease
their transition. The visit provides an opportunity to discuss the middle school
experience with students and sixth grade teachers. As the fifth graders familiarize
themselves with the middle school environment, teachers and sixth grade students tell
what middle school is like and answer questions. The visit is enjoyable for all and
relieves many apprehensions.
An annual review meeting is scheduled for all parents of fifth grade classified students.
Your child’s current educational status and program recommendations are discussed.
The goal of this meeting is to update your child’s Individual Educational Program (IEP).
The annual review meeting is the parent’s opportunity to provide input and discuss any
concerns. A new case manager is assigned to your child and will remain with your child
for all three middle school years.
Communication between parents and teachers at middle school is very important.
Teachers will contact parents as the need arises. Each teacher establishes a method of
contact that best serves each child’s needs. They appreciate knowing anything a
parent feels may affect a child’s functioning at school, so don’t hesitate to jot a note or
make a personal contact. Each student uses a daily agenda book to keep track of
responsibilities, which can also be used for teacher/parent communication. Teachers
keep parents informed about the best times to reach them by telephone during the day
and ask parents to do the same. Middle school teachers are experienced and treat
each student as a unique individual.
We realize that transitioning to another school can create anxiety for you as well as for
your children. However, once adjusted, most of the students are happy and never want
to return to their former school. They seem to enjoy the independence, changing
classes, having different teachers for different subjects, the activities, lockers, and
making so many new friends.
The students at the middle school are divided into communities or “houses”. Each
grade level has three houses with approximately one hundred students per house.
Each house is comprised of a Teaching Team. The teachers in each house have the
same team planning period each morning, thereby, enabling them to conduct meetings
to articulate about students and focus on needs, accomplishments, strengths, and
whatever else may be necessary for a student. Each class is approximately fifty
minutes in length. There is an a.m. and p.m. homeroom period. There is a twenty
minute support period each day allowing teachers to work individually with students or
in small groups, and for children to Drop Everything And Read (D.E.A.R.).
One of the most positive aspects of the “House Plan” is that the special education
teachers are very high profile. They are an integral part of the team of teachers and are
departmentally assigned to their area of expertise. They are included in team planning
meetings enabling them to provide valuable information about their students, and to
advocate for them on a daily basis. Frequently, the special education teacher is the
second teacher in a collaboratively taught class.
Child Study Team is also very active at the middle school. They are often invited to
team planning meetings to consult with teachers. They are frequently seen in classes
observing the students. They are often times invited to house events that establish a
sense of community for the children as well as the teachers such as: special films, field
trips, special projects that have evolved from academic lessons etc.
All students are mainstreamed for special subjects. At the sixth grade level, they
include: Physical Education /Health/Family Living, Art, Computer Education, Consumer
Sciences, and Music. Students have PE/Health/Family Living every marking period.
The other unified arts subjects are presented in 5 cycles throughout the year.
We encourage all of our students to participate in extra-curricular activities. They offer a
wide variety of experiences to children; encourage peer interaction; increase selfesteem;
help to develop responsibility; and, establish a sense of belonging to a team or
club. Most often, these activities provide a place for children to feel successful
particularly if academics are difficult. There is a list provided at the beginning of the
We encourage you and your child to visit the middle school prior to the first day of
school. A few tours of the building during the summer will help to alleviate some anxiety
and nervousness. Encourage your children to ask questions of the guidance
counselors and students at the middle school when they visit as a group in the spring.
Learning Disabilities Class
Students in this program generally require special education instruction for the majority
of their day as a result of needs in reading, language arts, mathematics and study skills.
The learning disabilities class environment is highly structured. Because most students
receive replacement instruction for several subject areas, the program provides
consistency, yet flexibility to meet the individual needs of the students. Dependent on
the IEP, the student may be instructed in a group or individually. Presently there is
opportunity for replacement instruction in reading, math, science language arts and
social studies. Study skills are taught throughout the curriculum. All students are
mainstreamed for family living, health, lunch, unified arts as well as for homeroom,
house time and all house activities including field trips. There is opportunity for
mainstream in any academic area if it is appropriate for an individual student. There is
also opportunity for support which focuses on organization, strategies and study skills
addressing each student’s individual learning style. The special education teacher
consults with regular education teachers on a regular basis to discuss techniques and
strategies that will help support the student in the regular classroom. Special area
teachers are met with on an as needed basis. The special education teacher
continually monitors, evaluates and, with input from the Learning Disability
Teacher/Consultant, adjusts student’s programs so that each student can reach his/her
Students in this program participate in regular education with the support of the
resource center program. Instructional responsibility is shared between the special
education teacher and the regular education teacher according to the IEP. Resource
center instruction may be replacement and/or support. Presently there is opportunity for
replacement instruction in the resource center in reading, language arts and math.
Dependent on the IEP, the student may receive regular education instruction in any of
the academic areas as well as in-class support from the special education teacher.
Support may also be provided in the resource center. The focus of support is
organization, study skills and review and reinforcement of concepts. The special
education teacher meets with the regular education teacher on a daily basis to discuss
student progress and share strategies that will foster student success. Special area
teaches are met with on an as needed basis. The special education teacher continually
monitors, evaluates and, with input from the Learning Disability Teacher/Consultant,
adjusts students’ programs so that each student can reach his/her fullest potential.
At LVMS the related services which are available include speech and language therapy,
individual counseling, physical therapy and occupational therapy. This is the same as
what is available at the elementary level. The biggest difference at the middle school
level is in the area of scheduling.
Individual counseling is available during house time - the 22 minutes before or after a
student’s lunch. Students who receive counseling as a part of their I.E.P. are scheduled
during a specific house time on a weekly or biweekly (every other week) basis.
Counseling services are provided by the school social worker or the school
psychologist. Counseling for fifth graders can sometimes present a unique challenge -
especially on a nice day. The students can often go outside to play during House time.
We try to be very understanding and flexible with this dilemma. Counseling is also
available on an as needed basis if necessary. The middle school years can often be
confusing for parent and child. Having someone in school to listen to their concerns can
Students receiving speech and/or language therapy have been identified through
teacher and/or parental requests. Students may be seen for articulation (i.e. sound
production); fluency; voice and/or language therapy. Students identified as having
language weaknesses are often seen as having concerns for vocabulary; processing of
information; formulating their ideas verbally; abstract language concepts; and
appropriate pragmatic (i.e. social communication) skills. Lags in these language skills
are often seen as impacting on a student’s academic performance. In order to promote
academic success, the development of stronger language skills enhances a child’s
ability to communicate effectively within the classroom and among their peers.
Speech and language therapy, physical therapy and occupational therapy are offered
during a gym, unified arts and/or House time period. The specific amount of time is
determined through the I.E.P. In general, students do not receive related services
during an academic period. Again, we try to be flexible and understanding (when they
bake cookies in Consumer Sciences it is a big deal!).
If you or your child has any concerns regarding a related service please do not hesitate
to contact the person providing the service. Open lines of communication continue to
be vital at LVMS.