Special Education

The Andover Public Schools is committed to providing students with disabilities specialized instruction, related services, and supports to the greatest extent possible while abiding by the current necessary health and safety requirements. Students will receive the services documented in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) through in-person instruction, remote instruction, or a combination of both.

As determined by each student’s individual needs, the following will be provided:

  • A regular and consistent schedule of classes, services and therapies as required by the student’s IEP, offered synchronously and asynchronously;
  • Accessible and UDL-based applications with multiple entry points, adaptive features, and embedded supports such as screen readers and picture dictionaries;
  • Accessible structured learning time;
  • Frequent interactions with teachers, related service providers and contracted providers via phone, email, and live virtual meetings;
  • Strong confidentiality protections via security and FERPA standards provided through the Schoology platform;
  • Student community connections such as virtual and in-person internships and learn-to-work programming provided via virtual platforms and adapted in-person experiences.

The district will consult with families about the provision of special education services and parents will receive written notification describing how, where, and when specialized services will be provided.  Individualized distance learning plans will describe the district’s efforts to provide services as closely aligned to the IEP as possible.

Determination of Need

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), students with significant and complex needs, as well as all preschool children, should be considered for additional days of in-person instruction. DESE defines “significant and complex needs” as follows:

Students already identified as “high needs” through the IEP process on the IEP form entitled “Primary Disability/Level of Need-PL3.” Such students must meet at least two of these criteria: 

  • Services provided outside of the general education classroom;
    • Service providers are special education teachers and related service providers;
    • Special education services constitute more than 75% of the student’s school day;
  • Students who cannot engage in remote learning due to their disability-related needs;
  • Students who primarily use aided and augmentative communication;
  • Students who are homeless
  • Students in foster care or congregate care; and/or
  • Students dually identified as English Learners.

Accordingly, while the District is making every effort to provide all students with disabilities as much in-person instruction as is feasible, additional days of in-person instructional time will be prioritized for some students based on level of need. The District has established a tiered approach to identify students’ level of need. Final determinations of need will be made on an individualized basis and in coordination with families. Additional in-person instructional time is contingent on the District’s ability to adhere to health and safety protocols.

Service Delivery

Special education services will be provided in accordance with students’ IEPs. Grid A consultation services as identified on a student’s IEP will occur on Wednesdays. Consultation services to parents will be scheduled at mutually available times.

Special education teachers and specialists will share access to their students’ Schoology classrooms so special education teachers and specialists can provide students with individual accommodations and modifications as identified in students’ IEP and review student progress.

Special education instruction services will be provided through a combination of live small group sessions, both in person and through reverse-remote teletherapy so as to limit the mixing of student cohorts per DESE requirements. Some special education students, such as students working in substantially separate programs, may attend in-person instruction for more days than indicated on the example schedules below depending on individual student need. 

Autism Clinic

The Andover Public Schools (APS) collaborated with The Autism Community Therapists (TACT) to design and operate an Andover Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) clinic. Housed at the Shawsheen School, the APS/TACT clinic will provide consultation, evaluation, and transitional supplemental ABA services to students with autism based on individual student need.

IEP Meetings

In order to comply with health and safety guidelines regarding limiting visitors to the school buildings, all special education team meetings will continue to be held remotely until further notice.

Special Education Assessments

The special education team will be using a variety of methods to complete evaluations. Some evaluations will be conducted in person with safety provisions in place, some evaluations have been adapted for remote administration, and some evaluations will be conducted via web-based application(s). The District has designed a taxonomy of web-based and adapted curriculum-based measurements for tracking IEP goals and benchmarks. The District has also adapted diagnostic assessment procedures in the event an assessment must be given remotely.  The method to complete evaluations of students will be based on individual student needs in accordance with health and safety requirements.

Preschool

The District recognizes that preschool students are at a critical stage, and so the District will prioritize early intervention while keeping students safe. Preschool students needing special education services will receive in-person and remote instruction commensurate with their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Related services for young children (speech, occupational therapy, physical therapy) will be provided in person to the greatest extent possible while meeting current health and safety requirements. Andover takes the guidance on mixing cohorts very seriously, so all District therapists are highly trained in teletherapy and are able to provide a combination of approaches depending on individual student’s need. Andover’s integrated program will run half days, Monday through Thursday. Students who require additional therapies or instruction will be scheduled in the afternoon or on Fridays. During the Friday closure, staff will utilize professional learning time to further enhance capacity for appropriate and engaging remote learning activities, providing referral conferences, and conducting arena-based Childfind evaluations and IEP meetings.

Tuition Students

Andover will continue to offer tuition-based preschool opportunities in our integrated programs. As peer screening was not feasible this spring, student selection was based on a combination of parent application and a lottery system. Tuition will be adapted to coincide with changes in hours of operation for the integrated programs.

Clinic Services

Clinic services will be provided through teletherapy by appointment in order to limit the number of visitors to the school building.