Students enrolled in the program are grouped by age (within three years of IEP-identified grade level) and by their placement assessments in the three core areas--Reading, Writing and Math. Mastery in these subjects is the focus of the ASPIRE Asperger’s Program. Instructionally, the program is a replication of the Morningside Model of Generative Instruction (The Morningside Model of Generative Instruction: What It Means to Leave No Child Behind, Johnson, K., Street, E. www.morningsideacadeny.org).
To date, the ASPIRE Asperger’s Program is the best replication of the Morningside Model and the only replication which works exclusively with students on the ASD spectrum.
Based on Curriculum-Based Placement Tests, various fluency probes, and Tier III assessments from Haugland's 3-Tier assessment battery such as the WJ-IV, Placement coordinators work with previous teachers to find placements for students that will also benefit them socially and behaviorally.
For instance, students engage in a token economy system called the Kroner Bank. In each class, students earn points for following expectations set by their teacher and for the display of positive and appropriate behavior.
These points can be redeemed for tangible items in our school store, reward minutes on classroom computers or in our Game Room, or for many other potential rewards.
Whether it is social or academic behavior, our approach is to teach students the appropriate behaviors and then reward them for displaying those behaviors.
Many students struggle in other education settings due to a fundamental lack of learning skills.
Classroom teachers use the first few weeks of the year to teach the classroom procedures and learning skills necessary to be successful learners.
By spending time on these skills that are oftentimes assumed to be known, our classrooms are able to move at a faster pace than most classrooms.
Since we are unable to teach each student every possible skill that they will need in life, we need to focus on teaching them how to be independent, engaged, and fluent, lifelong learners.
A unique element of the ASPIRE Asperger’s Program is its usage of teacher coaches. Empirical studies show that teachers who regularly receive coaching demonstrate higher rates of skill retention and application.
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