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District Special Education Programs


The Southbridge Public Schools district shall ensure that, to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who do not have disabilities, and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of students with special needs from the general education program occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in general education classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.   The least restrictive environment shall be consistent with the needs of the student.

Click on the arrows below to read about each program. 

PASS (Positive Academic and Social Skills) Classrooms

The PASS (Positive Academic and Social Skills ) classrooms are a sub-separate program designed to provide support to students with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and/or similar developmental profiles in grades PK-12. Instructional methodology is primarily based on the principles of applied behavior analysis (ABA) which includes; Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT), Task Analysis, behavior management, and social skills instruction. Student data is analyzed on a continuous basis which allows PASS staff to adjust instructional practices as appropriate. This informed data decision-making is the hallmark of how academic growth, behavior, and independent skill development is assessed. Instruction is provided using 1:1, small group, and/or whole group format. Inclusion opportunities are also incorporated as appropriate. Teacher to student ratio remains small and groupings change throughout the day depending on the needs of each student.  The PASS program is supported by certified special education teachers, BCBAs, ABA technicians, educational assistants, and various related service professionals (i.e. speech, occupational therapy, and physical therapy). 

Life Skills Program

Students in the Life Skills program work on a projectThe Life Skills Program at Southbridge High School serves students in grades 9 through 12 who have intellectual impairments and/or Autism in the mild to moderate range. These disabilities present a wide range of communication, academic, behavioral, and life skill challenges. Instructional methodology focuses on functional academic and activities of daily living instruction designed to prepare students to live as independently as possible. The Assessment of Functional Living Skills is used to assess student progress in social skills, community living skills, basic living skills, and functional academics. Student data is analyzed based on methodologies such as Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT), Task Analysis, behavior management, and social skills instruction. The program is staffed by a special education teacher, educational assistants, BCBA, and various related service staff including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists.  Students participate in unified arts and other programs as often as the experience is meaningful including pep rallies, homecoming, clubs, and the prom.  Students have the opportunity to actively participate in the high school graduation ceremony including a Certificate of Attainment at graduation.

CONNECT Program 

The CONNECT program is a highly structured therapeutic program for students in grades K-5 who experience social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties due to mental health disorders. The program utilizes a flexible inclusion model that is designed to provide students with academic instruction while addressing their significant emotional and behavioral needs. Students receive individualized treatment, including behavioral interventions to help them experience a sense of success and belonging in the school. The goal of the program is to create a therapeutic environment within the public school setting by promoting self-governance and progressive levels of responsibilities. The program adjustment counselor works together with program staff, parents, and with students to improve their behavioral and emotional functioning within the school setting. Services include restorative justice practices, group counseling, individual counseling, and crisis counseling, as needed. In addition, the CONNECT team is committed to collaborating with families and other community agencies in order to provide a consistent approach to helping students with mental health issues.

Discovery Classroom (Preschool to Grade 5)

The Discovery classroom is a specialized program serving students with moderate/severe developmental, cognitive, and physical disabilities.  Many students also require close medical supervision due to seizures, respiratory issues, GI tubes, etc.  The classroom is staffed with a nurse to address medical needs.  Students receive a multi-sensory (tactile, kinesthetic, auditory, visual, etc.), total communication approach to learning, and they may or may not be able to participate in mainstream classrooms due to cognitive or medical concerns. Student academic growth is determined by progress monitoring on individualized education plans (IEPs) including goals and objectives that are unique to the individual child.  In collaboration with speech-language, occupational, vision, and physical therapists, students are offered an alternative and educational experience to meet their individualized academic, social, physical, and communication needs.  Access to augmentative communication devices as well as assistive technology is available in order to facilitate peer interactions and build on communication skills. With an emphasis on activities-based learning and functional skills curriculum, students achieve personal success in a safe environment where they can strive to gain independence and become productive contributors to society and their local community.