Specialized Programs

Academics, Career, and Essential Skills Program

The Academics, Career, and Essential Skills Program (ACES) program provides students with an opportunity to learn academic, work, and independent living skills in a District 1-32 school.

Student Profile

Eligible students meet the following criteria:

Classification

Students are classified with Intellectual Disability (ID) or Multiple Disabilities (MD).

Alternate Assessment

Students participate in alternate assessment, including New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA).

Intelligence

Students present with mild to moderate intellectual disability.

Achievement

Academic abilities and skills are significantly below grade level. Students may need additional support when working independently or in groups. Assistive technology devices may be used to support learning and interaction.

Behavior

Students may have mild to moderate behavior challenges, but no aggressive or self-injurious behaviors. Behavior challenges may interfere with learning and social opportunities.

Independent Living Skills

Students' ability to carry out functional life skills such as grooming, dressing, eating, keeping safe, and socializing (known as adaptive behaviors) are well below age expected levels.

  • To assess independence and daily living skills, the IEP team uses an adaptive behavior test. Students with low adaptive behavior scores are often considered for the ACES program.
  • ACES programs use the school and local communities to support students in learning daily living skills such as building relationships with peers and adults, grocery shopping, learning how to use a bank, etc.

Program Features

Class Structure

Students attend a smaller class in a District 1-32. The number of students in the class increase as students move from elementary and middle school to high school.

Staff

Teachers and support staff are trained in specialized instructional strategies and assessments that support students in learning and applying work and independent living skills at home, in school, and in the community.

Curriculum and Instruction

Classes follow the New York State Learning Standards. Principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and essential skill building are a part of the program.

Application Process

Here are the steps for determining if your child is eligible:

Complete an Application

file-pdf file-word file-word file-excel file-excel ar bn zh ko ru ur en fr-FR fr-HT es Español

If you think the ACES program may be right for your child, you may submit an application to the Central ACES Team at any time. School staff can help you. All assessments must be completed within one year of the application in order for admissions to move forward.

  • For children entering kindergarten in September, families or schools should contact the Central ACES Team as soon as possible.

Receive Confirmation

If you e-mail the Central ACES Team, you will receive an e-mail to let you know your application has been received. If you fax a letter to the Central ACES Team, you will receive a letter to confirm receipt.

If you submit an application for your child, the Central ACES Team will notify your child’s IEP team to let them know that you are interested in ACES.

If your child’s IEP team submits an application for your child, you will also receive notification to let you know that the Central ACES Team has received the inquiry.

Eligibility Review

The Central ACES Team will review your child's special education record to determine if assessments are up-to-date and provide enough information about your child’s academic ability and social, language, behavior, and adaptive skills. In addition, the record is reviewed to make sure your child meets the criteria for ID or MD educational disability classifications.

  • If updated or additional tests are needed, your child’s IEP team will be asked to conduct any needed tests. You will receive a letter from the DOE asking for your consent.
  • You may also submit additional evaluations for review to the Central ACES Team.

Admissions Determination

The Central ACES Team will determine if your child is eligible for admission to the program based on:

  • Evaluations
  • Observations
  • Information from teachers, service providers, and the IEP team

School Placement

Eligible students will receive a Prior Written Notice (PWN) and School Location Letter (SLL) providing an identified school with an available seat in the ACES program. The ACES program may be in a school other than your local district school. If the school is not near your home, your child can receive transportation to the school.

Program Visit

The SLL will contain the name of the contact person and the school’s address. Please call the school to make an appointment for a visit. After visiting the school, contact the IEP team to inform them whether you are accepting or declining the offer.

Registration

After accepting the ACES program placement offer, take the SLL along with a copy of your child’s birth certificate, and two proofs of your address to register your child at the new school.

Autism Spectrum Disorders Programs

The Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) Nest and ASD Horizon programs are specialized programs that serve some students with autism. They are available in some District 1-32 schools. The program is a partnership between the DOE and New York University’s (NYU) ASD Nest Support Project.

Each program works to strengthen academic and social skills, but they have different eligibility criteria and serve students in different types of classes.

The same application process is used for both programs.

ASD Nest Student Profile

Students must meet the following criteria:

Classification

Eligible for an educational disability classification of Autism.

Intelligence

Average to above average intelligence with consistent development including verbal and nonverbal abilities, working memory, language, and attention.

Achievement

Academic skills on or above grade level.

  • Students are able to work independently and in small groups with minimal support.
  • Students participate in standard assessments, including New York State (NYS) Math and English Language Arts (ELA) exams.
  • Accommodations are provided as written on the student’s IEP.

Language/Communication

Language skills on or close to age level, except in social language. These skills include:

  • Staying on topic
  • Using socially appropriate nonverbal gestures, responses and facial expressions

Social Functioning

Mild to moderate social delays. May demonstrate challenges in interacting and/or playing with peers or adults, with handling changes in routine, and with monitoring and controlling their own emotions and behaviors.

Behavior

Mild behavior challenges. The student is not physically aggressive, does not engage in self-injurious behaviors, and does not show “escape behaviors,” such as running away from staff or exiting the classroom or school building.

ASD Nest Program Features

Class Structure

The program serves students with autism in a classroom with general education students. The class is a small Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) class, with one special education teacher and one general education teacher. As students get older, the class size increases. There is no classroom paraprofessional.

Curriculum and Instruction

Classes follow the New York State Learning Standards and the same curriculum used in all DOE schools. ASD Nest teachers are trained in specialized teaching strategies for students with autism, including a special social curriculum called Social Development Intervention (SDI) developed by NYU. SDI is an evidence-based program that supports social-emotional development.

Social-Emotional Supports

Related service providers use SDI to help students improve social functioning. This social language curriculum is taught in small groups.

ASD Horizon Student Profile

Students must meet the following criteria:

Classification

Eligible for an educational disability classification of Autism.

Intelligence

Below average to average intelligence with areas of strengths and weaknesses.

Achievement

Academic skills on or near grade level.

  • Students benefit from instruction based on the principles of ABA and can work independently with some support.
  • Students participate in standard assessments, including New York State (NYS) Math and English Language Arts (ELA) exams.
  • Accommodations are provided as written on the student’s IEP.

Language/Communication

May have mild to moderate language difficulties. They may have difficulty expressing themselves and understanding what others are saying. They may also have difficulty with social language.

  • Students entering kindergarten can speak in at least 2-3-word, meaningful sentences.
  • Older students are able to string words together to express needs and wants, but need support to communicate effectively in social situations.

Social Functioning

May have mild to moderate delays in playing and interacting with other students. Students may participate in social activities, but often prefer to engage in activities by themselves.

Behavior

May have mild to moderate behavior difficulties. Student is not physically aggressive, does not engage in self-injurious behaviors, and does not show “escape behaviors,” such as running away from staff or exiting the classroom or school building.

ASD Horizon Program Features

The ASD Horizon program was developed by the DOE. Rethink Ed Platform Solutions provides support and instructional materials.

Class Structure

The program serves a maximum of eight students with autism in a Special Class (SC). The class is taught by one special education teacher and one classroom paraprofessional. Opportunities for inclusion with general education students are encouraged.

Curriculum and Instruction

Classes follow the New York Learning Standards and the same curriculum used in all DOE schools. ASD Horizon teachers are trained in special strategies for students with autism. Rethink Ed Platform Solutions provides support including evidence-based instructional materials, based on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). These materials support the academic and social-emotional development of ASD Horizon students.

Social-Emotional Supports

Related service providers work together with classroom teachers using Rethink lessons to address students’ communication and socialization challenges.

ASD Nest and ASD Horizons Admissions Process

Complete an Application

file-pdf file-word file-word file-excel file-excel ar bn zh ko ru ur en fr-FR fr-HT es Español
Children Entering Kindergarten

Submit an application during your child’s final year of preschool as soon as possible. You should also apply to non-ASD kindergarten programs through the kindergarten admissions process:

Children in Grades K – 12

Submit an application anytime.

All assessments needed for the application process can be completed by your IEP team. You or your child’s school can send the completed application by:

Confirmation of Application

After the Central ASD Team receives your application, you will receive an email or letter to confirm. If you do not hear from the team within one week, contact them by phone or email.

When an application is submitted, the Central ASD Team will also contact your child’s IEP team to discuss the information provided on the application and ask any follow up questions

Initial Review

The Central ASD Team reviews your child’s special education record. The team will see if testing is up-to-date and provides all the information about your child’s intellectual ability and social, language, behavior, academic, and adaptive skills required. The team also makes sure that your child meets criteria for an educational classification of autism.

Observation

If the information provided during the initial review indicates your child may be a candidate for either an ASD Nest or an ASD Horizon program, a Central ASD Team member will work closely with you and your child’s IEP team to schedule an observation.

Other Assessments

The DOE may also conduct additional evaluations as needed and will ask for your consent. For example, the DOE conducts the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) for children who may be eligible for the ASD Nest program.

You may also submit additional evaluation materials with the application. Materials containing additional information should be no more than one year old for applicants in grades Pre-K-5 and no more than two years old for applicants in grades 6-12.

Admissions Determination

The determination is based on the information and data gathered from your child’s:

  • Psychoeducational evaluation
  • Autism diagnostic testing
  • Observations
  • Any additional information submitted

The Central ASD Programs team will discuss whether your child meets the admissions criteria for an ASD Nest or an ASD Horizon program with you and your child’s IEP team.

  • If your child is not eligible, the IEP team will work with you to determine appropriate special education services to meet your child’s needs. You can submit a new ASD Program application at a later date if new information about your child becomes available.
  • If your child is eligible for either program, the IEP will be written by your child’s IEP team with guidance from the Central ASD Programs Team.

Program Visit

If your child is accepted to an ASD program you may visit the school where the program is offered. Because ASD programs are not in every school and there are a limited number of seats, students are assigned a specific school. We are not able to accommodate requests for specific schools. Families of accepted students will be contacted by the school being offered to arrange a visit and to enroll.

Registration

Families of newly accepted students will receive a Prior Written Notice (PWN) and School Location Letter (SLL) following the IEP meeting. The SLL will specify the school your child will attend. Once you receive the SLL, you should bring the documentation needed to enroll you child at the school as soon as possible. It is important to register at the ASD program school as quickly as possible so that transportation, if included on the IEP, is not delayed.

Autism Spectrum Disorders Summer Programs

The ASD Nest and the ASD Horizon programs follow the ten-month District 1-32 school calendar from September through June. The DOE provides an optional summer program for students in ASD programs in kindergarten through fifth grade, and those entering ninth grade. The purpose of the summer program is to promote continued social development.

Bilingual Special Education

Bilingual Special Education (BSE) is a specialized program for students who require an Integrated Co-Teaching (ICT) or Special Class (SC) with a language of instruction other than English. These programs are intended to support English Language Learners (ELLs) who benefit from culturally and linguistically responsive instruction that addresses cognitive, academic and linguistic needs.

BSE is recommended by your child’s IEP team. It is a specialized program because it is not offered in every District 1-32 school. Students may need to transfer schools to receive their IEP recommended BSE program. 

BSE Student Profile

Classification

Students must be eligible for one of the 13 disability classifications as defined by the New York State Education Department’s Regulations of the Commissioner of Education: Part 200.

IEP Program Recommendation

A language other than English must be selected on the Recommended Special Education Programs/Services page of the student’s IEP.

BSE Program Features

Dual Language (DL)

  • Serves both ELLs and English-proficient students, who function as role models for each other and whose interactions support skill development in both languages.
  • Designed to continue developing the student’s home language, as well as English language skills.
  • Students receive half of their instruction in English and half of their instruction in the target (or non-English) language.
  • The goal of this program is for students to be able to read, write, and speak in both English and in their home language.

Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE)

  • Serves only ELLs.
  • Designed to support students in developing English language skills over time. Students begin to transfer skills in their home language to English by spending instructional time primarily in their home language before steadily transitioning to English.
  • In the beginning stages of English language development, about 60 percent of instructional time will take place in the student’s native language and 40 percent in English.
  • As students develop fluency in English, instructional time in English increases.

Curriculum and Instruction

BSE programs follow the New York State Learning Standards. DL and TBE programs provide students with curriculum in two languages.

For more information please speak with your program school and refer to the NY State Department of Education website, Bilingual Education and English as a New Language .

BSE Inquiry Process

If you believe that your child requires a BSE program, talk to the IEP team. Students must have a recommendation for an ICT or SC program with a language of instruction other than English, to be eligible.

Inquiry

Families and schools may contact the Central BSE Programs Team at any time during the year to submit an inquiry or ask a question by emailing BSEprograms@schools.nyc.gov.

  • If you email the Central BSE Programs Team, you will receive an email acknowledging your inquiry.
  • If you submit an inquiry for your child, the Central BSE Programs Team will notify your child’s school or district CSE to let them know that you are interested in BSE.

Initial Review

The Central BSE Programs Team reviews the student’s IEP to confirm that it recommends a bilingual ICT or SC program. In addition, the team confirms your address to identify the BSE program closest to your home with available seats.

School Placement

If the Central BSE Programs Team is able to find placement in a program that is a reasonable distance from your child’s home, you will receive a School Location Letter (SLL) providing an identified school. The BSE program may be in a school other than your local district school. If the school is not near your home, your child is entitled to transportation.

Students entering kindergarten in September are offered placement by the Office of Student Enrollment with the assistance of the Central BSE Programs Team beginning in March or April of the prior school year.

If the BSE Team cannot identify an available program, your child will be supported by a bilingual Alternate Placement Paraprofessional in a monolingual (English) ICT or SC while the Central BSE Programs Team continues to look for an available program. Additionally, your child should continue to receive English as a New Language (ENL) services.

Program Visit

The SLL will contain the name of the contact person and the address of the school. Please call the school to make an appointment for a visit. After visiting the school, contact the IEP team at the school your child currently attends to inform them whether you are accepting or declining the BSE program offer.

Registration

If you accept the BSE placement offer, take the SLL along with a copy of your child’s birth certificate, and two proofs of your address to register your child.

file-pdf file-word file-word file-excel file-excel ar bn zh ko ru ur en fr-FR fr-HT es Español
Back to Top