Specialized Programs

In addition to the various types of school options available, many public schools offer specialized programs to meet specific student needs. School Liaisons should know which of these programs are offered within the community and share information with families as appropriate.

Dual Enrollment Programs

Nearly nine out of ten high schools offer students the opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school. These programs include Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs, which enable students to earn credit when they enroll in college if they pass an examination, as well as programs that allow students to take courses on college campuses while still enrolled in high school. In some cases, students must pay tuition or fees to enroll in college classes, and most pay for the costs of the exams required in AP and IB classes.

Special Education Programs

These are services specifically designed to serve children with developmental, neurological, and/or learning disabilities. The Federal Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to offer these programs and to provide them in the “least restrictive environment.” The types of services provided are spelled out in an Individualized Education Program (IEP), an educational plan designed to accommodate the child's unique learning requirements and agreed to by the child’s school, counselor, and parent or parents. Depending on the IEP, a student might be taught by specially trained and credentialed teachers, schools may offer a modified classroom structure and sizes, modified curriculum, and adapted physical space. Freestanding special education schools are also available but are most often private institutions; public school systems may also send their children who cannot receive necessary special education services from the district to local or private special education schools. (More information about this can be found in Module 9: Supporting Students with Special Needs.)

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