Return to Headlines

What is special about special education in CMS?

Individualized instruction and student achievement are valued in CMS. This is evident through the available services, including: 

  • Specially designed instruction to meet the needs of students with disabilities 
  • Access to the general curriculum and intervention programs designed to provide appropriate opportunities for instruction in the general education setting 
  • Continuum of services, including but not limited to regular, resource and separate settings 
  • Curriculum-driven instruction: Common Core State and North Carolina Essential Standards and Extensions of the Common Core State Standards 
  • Related services that include but are not limited to speech, occupational and physical therapy 
  • Specialized instruction for students with hearing, visual and physical disabilities 
  • Modified materials, including but not limited to books on tape, large-print materials, specialized equipment, assisted technology and furniture 
  • Accessible space in schools to meet the needs of students with physical disabilities 
  • Appropriate technology to support students

Who determines what services are provided for students with disabilities, and where are they offered?

Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams consider service-delivery options based on each student's needs. For example, teams may consider regular, resource or separate settings available at every school for students participating in the Common Core State and North Carolina Essential Standards. Teams may also consider self-contained classes for students with significant cognitive disabilities who participate in the Extensions of the Common Core State Standards or have significant behavioral challenges.

What curriculum is used in classes for students with disabilities?

The Common Core State and North Carolina Essential Standards are used throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. In addition, exceptional children teachers use a variety of strategies to help students make progress in the curriculum and sometimes co-teach with general education teachers. At the high school level, students with disabilities may participate in the Occupational Course of Study, one of the pathways leading to a North Carolina diploma.

Students with significant cognitive disabilities participate in the Extensions of the Common Core State Standards. This curriculum teaches the essential elements of the traditional course of study while embedding the acquisition of personally-relevant life skills.

How are students with disabilities assessed?

All students with disabilities participate in the district-wide grade level local and state accountability programs. IEP Teams make assessment decisions. The North Carolina End-of-Grade and End-of-Course assessments are taken by all students participating in the Common Core State and North Carolina Essential Standards.

These tests may be taken with or without accommodations. For example, NCEXTEND 1 assessment may be taken by students with significant cognitive disabilities. These students are assessed on achievement in an alternate curriculum, the Extended Common Core State Standard of the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, using alternate achievement standards.

How does CMS ensure access to general education?

The reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004andthepassageoftheNo Child Left Behind Act of 2001 require school districts to provide access to the general curriculum and be held accountable for the progress of students with disabilities. Implementing inclusive practices in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is one effective way to provide access, increase accountability and assure academic achievement by all students.

Inclusive practices are used in every school and are based on individual students' needs. In addition, a wide variety of service-delivery systems emphasize collaboration between general and special education to support students with disabilities. These include:

  • Professionals skilled in working with students with disabilities meet regularly with general education teachers to resolve any learning problems.
  • Teams of general and special education teachers at specific grade levels meet regularly to discuss curriculum differentiation and design modifications.
  • General and special education teachers or other licensed professionals work together to deliver instructional content to students with and without disabilities in the general education classroom.
  • Paraprofessionals assist students with disabilities in general education classrooms; special education teachers or other licensed personnel provide periodic assistance or parallel curriculum activities in the general education classroom.

Does CMS offer a full continuum of services?

Yes. A full continuum of services is offered in CMS. This means that students with disabilities may receive services such as co-teaching in the regular classroom, pull-out special education in resource classrooms or services in a self-contained class. IEP Teams make these decisions.

How do parents access special education services? 

Each school follows a systematic process for identifying students with disabilities. Referrals for evaluation come from a variety of sources. Parents, teachers and others can refer a student to the school-based assistance team. This team reviews the student's current progress, observes in the classroom, talks with parents and teachers, and then develops a set of interventions designed to address the student's needs. If these interventions are not successful, the team may refer the student to an IEP Team of parents, teachers and administrators. The IEP Team meets, discusses areas of concern and determines a course of action that may include a battery of assessments. Using North Carolina policies for Exceptional Children, the IEP Team uses the assessment information to determine eligibility. The amount of service an eligible student receives is not based on a category. Services are based on the needs of the student.