Special Education


Our Inclusion Model

“Inclusion provides children with special needs natural opportunity to practice the skills they are working on mastering (play, language, motor skills) and natural models to observe and interact with (typically developing peers). Bridges will use the inclusion model for delivery of services and also be able to provide students with instruction outside of the general education setting. The school will have a continuum of settings to provide instructional support to students with special needs- inclusion, resource room, and self-contained classrooms.”

Special Education Programming at Bridges

Bridges PCS offers a range of educational services and settings along a continuum based on a child’s individual academic and socio-emotional needs. Students receive educational services in the “non-categorical” self-contained classroom, the general education classroom, or a combination of both. Based on data, observation, and formal evaluations, placement decisions are made with the IEP team to ensure the most appropriate setting that is in the least restrictive environment.

During the 2016-2017 school year, Bridges will be expanding and further codifying our special education programming by introducing the “Bridges” program, which categorizes settings and services in four categories: Bridge 1-4. The purpose of this expansion is to ensure that we are providing the highest quality and individualized instruction to our students with special needs, as well as to provide more opportunities to be included in the general education setting. Placement decisions are made using a variety of formal and anecdotal assessment measures, including VB-MAPP transition assessment (for Bridge 1 and 2), classroom assessment data, standardized assessment data, observations, and parent/teacher input. A description of each Bridge is below.

Bridge 1: Intensive ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis) Class

Bridge 1 classrooms are designed to support students who need the majority of their instruction delivered through discrete trial methods, both in individual instruction and natural environment teaching. Instruction is focused on VB-MAPP skills and aligned with the Common Core Curriculum. The classroom schedule and setup may not reflect a typical classroom but will be customized to provide high levels of structure and support for identified students. Explicit instruction on communication and social skills as well as adaptive (daily living) skills will be provided throughout the day. This is the most restrictive setting where students are receiving the highest level of intensive support. Participation in the general education setting will be determined on an individual basis and will occur during the most appropriate times during the school day.


Bridge 2: Self-Contained Aligned with General Education

Bridge 2 classrooms are designed to support students who can access the general education curriculum through small and whole group instruction, but require significant modifications to the content and pace of the common core curriculum taught. The classroom schedule and setup reflects a typical general education classroom with modifications made to add additional supports in the areas of social skills and independence. Explicit instruction on social skills will be provided throughout the day, but these students can consistently utilize language to make requests, comments, and ask questions, either through spoken language or assistive technology. ABA supports will be provided to increase motivation and decrease interfering behaviors. Inclusion into general education classrooms will be structured into all students’ days as determined by the IEP team.  

Bridge 3: General Education with Resource Room

Students in the Bridge 3 setting will spend most of their school day in the general education classroom. They will participate in all social activities, whole group lessons with minimal academic demands (ie. Morning Meeting, Read Aloud, Closing Circle), and specials. While in the general education classroom, students will be supported by both the general education teacher and, when appropriate, the special education teacher in a co-taught teaching model. The special education teacher will collaborate with the rest of the teaching team to specialize instruction, meet IEP goals, and modify the curriculum as necessary. Students will receive small group instruction 3-5 days per week with a special education teacher in a Resource Room setting for academic areas needing further intervention and support.


Bridge 4: General Education with Specialized Instruction

Students in Bridge 4 will receive most or all of their academic instruction inside the general education classroom by both the general education and, when necessary, the special education teacher. They may be in a co-taught classroom or in a classroom without a special education teacher. If they are not in a co-taught classroom, instruction will be specialized and modified through collaboration between the general education and special education teacher (consultation). Time outside of the classroom with a special education teacher is minimal (0-3 hours per week) and occurs in a small group setting.

Instructional Programming at Bridges PCS for Students with Special Needs

At Bridges PCS, a variety of instructional strategies and tools are utilized to meet students’ individual academic and social needs. All teachers are trained in implementing the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into their unit/lesson plans, project-based assessments, and summative assessments. UDL ensures that all learners are engaged in the learning process, demonstrating their knowledge through a variety of assessment measures, and have access to academic content through various learning modalities. Using a variety of assessment measures, students will have access to Assistive Technology to support with language, access to learning content, and social interaction. Bridges PCS will utilize Assistive Technology screeners and assessments to make the most appropriate decision about needs. All decision will be made with the multidisciplinary team.

Whenever appropriate, students with special needs are supported in a co-taught environment to ensure maximum exposure to the general education curriculum and opportunities to increase positive social interactions with self and others. Collaboration between the special education teacher, general education teacher, teacher assistant, dedicated aides (when appropriate), and related service providers (Speech and Language Pathologist, Occupational Therapist, Social Worker, ABA Therapist/BCBA, and Behavior Intervention Team) is crucial to ensure the most effective planning and specialized instruction is occurring for students with special needs.

To reduce barriers to learning based on a diagnosed disability, major life skill deficit (communication, fine/gross motor skills, social interaction, etc), history of trauma, and/or maladaptive social behaviors, related service providers will provide direct individual and group therapy to students based on the recommendations in the Individualized Education Plan and related goals. Related Service Providers will also push into classrooms and provide consultation support to parents and teaching staff to provide strategies for increasing access to learning and the social environment.


The mission of Bridges Therapy Program is to assist all students to participate and gain independence in all facets of school life. By collaborating with all team members, including therapists, teachers, administration, and parents, we can support the development of the functional skills our students need to be successful in the school environment. The therapy team focuses on the needs of each individual student to create realistic and achievable goals in the different areas of the school day.

What types of services are considered "Related Services"? 

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Therapy
  • Counseling
  • Occupational Therapy (OT)
  • Physical Therapy (PT)
  • Social Work
  • Speech-Language Therapy

Who receives related services?

Typically, students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) who also have specialized instruction for reading, writing, and math, are the students who require additional related services. Students with 504 plans may also related services as well, depending on his/her disability category and need. 

How are related services provided?

Related service frequency, duration, and location are determined by each student's multidisciplinary team.

Services may include push-in to the classroom to focus on targeted skills within natural contexts, pull-out services in one of our therapy spaces, and/or through consultation with other team members.