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Special Education – Continuum of Services

Jump to: Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) | Individualized Education Program (IEP)

HCPSS provides special education and related and support services for all eligible students with disabilities ages birth to 21. The system provides a continuum of services, such as consultation with general education personnel, resource pull-out models, regional programs and placement in nonpublic and residential or hospital sites.

Services and supports vary greatly depending on the age and need of the individual student. All decisions regarding the placement of a child with a disability in special educationwill be made by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team and are consistent with the Least Restrictive Environment requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004.

Individualized Family Support Plan (IFSP) for Children Ages Birth to Three

The Howard County Infants and Toddlers Program collaborates with the Howard County Health Department, the Department of Social Services, local pediatricians and other community agencies to identify infants and toddlers (birth to age three) in need of special services.

Early intervention services for infants, toddlers and their families are outlined in Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSPs) and are designed to build the capacity of parents and caregivers through reflective coaching. Service is delivered from a primary provider, in the environment where he or she lives, learns and plays. Year-round intervention is provided by a team of special educators, speech and language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, community health nurses, social workers and psychologists.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) for Students Ages 3–21


Consultation can provide:

  • Support for a community preschool or childcare setting for students ages 3–5 years old. This could include guidance regarding individualized strategies for instruction, social/emotional development, and classroom management.
  • Family training and coaching through virtual or in-person opportunities to increase cross-environment success between home and school for our 3–5 year old students and their families.
  • The general educator with guidance from the special education teacher on appropriate strategies for instruction, behavior management, data collection, observation, and feedback in the general education setting.
  • The general educator with guidance from the related service providers and support teachers on strategies,materials, and equipment that can provide access to the instruction in the general education setting.service delivery through ongoing communication between general and special educators and related service providers.
  • Assistance in completing functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and developing a behavioral intervention plan (BIP) to address areas of concern.

Direct Services In a Classroom

Some students may need more support and services in order to access the general curriculum, but are still able to learn in the classroom with their peers. This can include:

  • Co-teaching and collaborative instructional models.
  • Adaptations or modifications to the general education curriculum and assessments.
  • Direct services from related service providers and support teachers within the least restrictive environment of the general education classroom.
  • Individual or small group instruction and support.

Direct Services Outside of the Classroom

If the student’s academic or emotional needs have a significant impact on his or her ability to learn in the classroom, the IEP team may determine that the student requires an alternative learning environment within the student’s home school.

  • Direct intensive or multi-sensory instruction utilizing specialized strategies and techniques in a small group, within a separate classroom, utilizing an alternative curriculum when necessary.
  • More specific skill training in academic skills or in the social, emotional, and behavioral areas.
  • Supports that address behavioral difficulties that interfere with the student’s learning or the learning of other students.

Students may receive direct service in both the general education and special education classrooms.

Intensive Services

Some students may need a regional program within a comprehensive school or a separate day school. Based on the unique needs and the IEP of the student, the local school or central office IEP teams determine the appropriate placement.

Students whose educational needs require services beyond those provided by the county’s regional program or a separate day school,may be assigned to Maryland State Department of Education-approved nonpublic schools. The nature and severity of the student’s disability may require a more therapeutic setting in order for a student to receive an appropriate educational program.

Upon request, parents or guardians shall be provided a written copy of the information regarding the HCPSS continuum of services and IEP decision making process described above.

Additional information regarding the continuum of services may be obtained from Special Education Teachers at the local schools or the Department of Special Education Resource Teachers and Instructional Facilitators for students birth to 5 yrs at 410–313–7017, Resource teachers and Instructional Facilitators for students 5–21 yrs at 410–313–6837 or 410–313–5351.

Service Providers

Every HCPSS school has a special education instructional team leader (ITL), who is responsible for the organization and administration of the special education team.

Each student who receives special education services is assigned a service coordinator from the school staff who serves as the primary contact for the family and all service providers. Student assistants or temporary employees may also assist students who have moderate to severe cognitive, medical, physical, or emotional disabilities.

Staff members may provide direct services to the child. Therapists or specialists may work directly with the child or provide guidance to other team members.

Case Manager or Service Coordinator

Selected by the IEP team or for children under the age of three by the Individualized Family Service Plan development team. The service coordinator’s responsibilities include:

  • Serving as a family’s primary contact for questions and concerns
  • Participating with the IEP team or IFSP team in the development or revision of a child’s IEP or IFSP
  • Assisting a child in gaining access to the services recommended in the IEP or IFSP
  • Collecting and synthesizing eval uation reports that might be needed by the team or committee
  • Implementing relevant procedures from the law.

Adapted Physical Education Teacher

Provides instruction on essential movement skills to students with significant gross motor deficits related to the Physical Education (PE) curriculum. May work with a student in a general education PE class or separate from the class, as needed to address IEP goals and objectives. The APE teacher provides consultation to general education PE teachers and other staff on how to accommodate varying levels of cognitive and physical abilities in the PE setting.


Provides on site leadership for the instructional program. The principal or assistant principal may attend IFSP meetings and serve as the chairperson of the IEP team.

Behavior Specialist

Provides support to school teams in constructing behavior intervention programs. The specialists also design ongoing staff development opportunities for teachers and instructional assistants.

Elementary Reading Specialist

Provides support to staff and students in a number of ways. They work with staff members to organize and plan effective instruction, communicate information about language arts and reading, provide ongoing staff development, and initiate and oversee tutorial and volunteer programs to assist students in need. Reading specialists also work with classroom teachers to help design specific programs for students needing additional help within the general classroom setting. In addition, reading specialists provide ongoing instruction to individual or small groups of students in need of a program to accelerate their reading growth.

General Education Teacher

Provides educational and instructional service in the general education classroom. The general education teacher may also provide general modifications, reasonable accommodations, and testing modifications.

Instructional Access Team (IAT)

The team provides professional learning sessions, online resources, assistive technology devices/materials and information to support HCPSS staff, families, and students with Individual Educational Programs (IEPs) and 504 Plans. The team Includes a special educator, speech-language pathologists and technical assistants. IAT consults with additional disciplines as needed.

Itinerant Teacher of the Blind and Visually Impaired (TBVI)

Provides assessment, consultation, and individualized instruction in special techniques used by children who are blind or partially sighted. To be eligible for service from the itinerant teacher of students with visual impairments, a child must have a Physician’s Assessment Report that states he or she has a visual impairment that adversely affects performance in school. A referral may be made by a parent, teacher, principal, school nurse, or eye doctor.

Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (TD/HH)

Provides consultation and instruction in total communication, language development, auditory training, and skills needed in the classroom setting. To be eligible for services from the Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, a child must be identified by an audiologist as having a hearing loss that adversely affects educational performance in school.

Occupational Therapist

Provides activities in the areas of perceptual fine motor, sensory motor, oral motor, and self-help skills. The therapist may provide demonstration and instruction to assist a child in coordinating visual and motor ability in the performance of fine motor and classroom tasks. Occupational therapy services may be provided to a child on an individual basis, in a small group, and either in or out of the general education classroom. The occupational therapist may also consult with other service


Provides support to students with IEPs or IFSPs under the direction of the general and/or special education teacher. This can include implementingIEP/IFSP accommodations, physical assistance, and/or supervision to ensure access to classroom instruction.

Physical Therapist

Assists in developing functional mobility skills .to promote inclusion in all school based activities. Physical therapy services may be provided on an individual basis, in a small group, or in the general education classroom.

School Psychologist

Provides consultation and evaluation in the areas of cognitive functioning, social-emotional development, and behavioral intervention. The school psychologist may conduct observations to gather information to assist other service providers in implementing the IEP, IFSP, or 504 Plan. In addition, psychologists may provide direct psychological services to address IEP goals and objectives as well as parent counseling and training may be provided on a short term basis when appropriate.

Special Education Teacher

Provides educational and instructional experiences for a child and may serve as the service coordinator. Special education services are provided through individual, small group, and large group instruction. Direct services may be provided in a separate room or the general education classroom. Consultation with general educators is an integral part of the service.

Speech-Language Pathologist

Works with a child to help him or her develop communication skills. May work with a child in a small group setting, on an individual basis, or in the general education classroom. The speech-language pathologist provides consultation to other service providers. The speech-language pathologist may also work with other staff members to develop augmentative communication systems that may include using sign language, picture boards, or voice output devices. The speech-language pathologist may refer a child to the Assistive Technology Team to provide additional consultation on augmentative communication systems and technology to access instruction or adaptations involving technology.