Diverse Learners

Special Education Supports and Services


Services and Programs

What CPS Has to Offer

CPS provides services and programs to address the needs of children from early childhood to young adult. We offer services that provide students who need focused and very specific medical issues to supports for different learning styles and difficulties. Instructional methods and learning environments vary by program and school to accommodate the individual needs of students.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

At CPS, the first placement option considered for students with disabilities is a Least Restrictive Environment (LRE), which is a regular education classroom that provides supplemental aids and services as needed. Special classes, separate schooling, or other placements that remove students from the regular education classroom occur only when specified by a student's Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Services

Once a child qualifies for an IEP, the school works together with the child’s guardian to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The child’s IEP guides the type, scope and assignment of services and supports the child receives from Chicago Public Schools in the Least Restrictive Environment

Autism and Behavior Services

Autism and Behavior Services support staff provide evidence-based interventions and supports that are specific to each student's individual needs. This includes educational, behavioral, environmental, and social supports.

English Learners

The Office of Diverse Learners Supports and Services partners with the Office of Language and Cultural Education to provide specialized services to dually identified students.

Transition Services

The Transition Services Team develops programs that support schools in preparing students with disabilities for life after high school, including planning for post-secondary education, job development activities, independent living skills training, community-based instruction, and travel training. Additionally, the team provides staff development, hosts informational family workshops, provides parent support and assistance, facilitates linkages to adult services, provides consultation to IEP teams regarding development of individual transition plans, and organizes district-wide events for students.

Services for Home and Hospital

Our Home and Hospital Instruction Program (HHIP) provides continuous instruction by a certified teacher to any student whose academic programs are interrupted for 10 or more consecutive or intermittent school days due to a documented medical or psychiatric condition. The program is focused on keeping students in academic and instructional contact with the attendance school, facilitating seamless reintegration back to school.

Learning Environments

Early Childhood

Our early childhood education programs are offered through both schools and community-based organizations. The key to choosing the right program is determining what works for your family.

Things to consider when choosing a program:

  • Your child's age
  • Location (age-eligible residents of Chicago may apply to any program)
  • Program hours
  • Services for diverse learners
  • Cost
  • Language preference

For more information on CPS early childhood programs, visit the site for Early Childhood Education

Cluster Programs

Cluster programs are designed for students requiring a significantly modified curriculum with moderate to intensive supports in a separate classroom from general education peers for the majority of the day (over 61% of the day). Individuals may also need assistance with adaptive skills.

  • Program for Students Requiring a Significantly Modified Curriculum with Moderate Supports is indicated for students in grades K-12+ who require a significantly modified curriculum with moderate supports in a separate classroom from general education peers for the majority of the school day (over 61% of the day). Instruction is based on evidence-based strategies requiring one-to-one instruction with small group reinforcement of skills. Students who require this cluster setting are the students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (typically associated with an IQ below 55 and at or above 40) that exist concurrently with impairments or deficits in adaptive functioning.
  • Program for Students Requiring a Significantly Modified Curriculum with Intensive Supports indicated for students in grades K-12+ who require a significantly modified curriculum with intensive supports in a separate classroom from general education peers for the majority of the school day (over 61% of the day). Instruction is based on evidence-based strategies requiring one-to-one instruction with small group reinforcement of skills. In addition, the students’ instruction includes a focus on adaptive living and independent living skills, which may require support from related service staff and/or paraprofessional staff. Students who require this cluster setting are the students with the most significant cognitive disabilities (typically associated with an IQ below 40) that exist concurrently with impairments or deficits in adaptive functioning.

Additional Programs

Itinerant DHH Program

The Hearing Itinerant Teacher serves students who require educational services due to a hearing impairment. The Hearing Itinerant Teacher addresses the educational, communication, and social/emotional needs of the student and provides guidance to the student’s family and school personnel. The itinerant travels to the school where a student may have been assigned or to the student’s home school to directly serve students and collaboratively work with staff to monitor the impact that the hearing loss may have on the student’s educational progress.

Oral/Aural Program

This type of educational program is for students who have a bilateral hearing loss and are able to access language through audition. Taught by a licensed teacher of the deaf or hard of hearing, this program emphasizes listening and spoken language to access communication. In addition to the core academic classes, auditory skills, lip reaching and assistive technology devices are used to ensure that the student has access to the curriculum.

Total Communication

This program is designed for students who have a significant bilateral hearing loss and despite amplification, are unable to develop or access language through audition. This class is taught by a licensed teacher of the deaf or hard of hearing. All means of communication are utilized, such as formal sign language, sign language provided through licensed interpreters, natural gestures, fingerspelling, lip reading, listening and speech. Hearing assistive technology is also available for students in order to ensure optimal access to the curriculum.

Program for the Visually Impaired is for students who require instruction by a teacher with a certification in Visually Impaired Instruction and typically require an excess of 120 minutes per week out of the general education classroom.

Preschool Inclusive Program is indicated for any preschool age student requiring educational supports by an early childhood special education teacher in the general education classroom for typically an excess of 120 minutes weekly.

Preschool Program with Intensive Support is indicated for any preschool age student requiring educational services in a separate classroom by an early childhood special education teacher.

Preschool Itinerant Services is indicated for any preschool age student requiring support in the general education classroom for typically up to 120 minutes weekly of educational services by an early childhood special education certified teacher. (This does not apply to a student receiving speech-only services.)

Multi-Sensory is a program for students who have been identified as needing a highly structured approach to reading/language arts  instruction as a result of an evaluation of current skill levels.

Accessible Building is only required for students who are unable to access their neighborhood school or school of choice due to building accessibility.

Program for Students Requiring Transition-Only Services is a program for high school students who have met CPS graduation requirements, but the IEP team has determined that the student continues to need transition supports and services. These students will defer their diploma at their current high school and attend a specialty school for extended school age transition program (ages 18-22).

Specialty High Schools and Transition Learning Centers

Our specialty high schools and transition learning centers provide specialized education for high school students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities. Programs capitalize on student interest and strength while preparing them to become members of the community.

Nonpublic, Therapeutic and Special Day Schools

Nonpublic special education programs provide educational, therapeutic and/or residential services to students with disabilities. Typically, students placed in nonpublic programs have such severe and possibly complicated educational and clinical needs that the IEP Team determines that no less restrictive setting on the continuum of alternative placements is appropriate within the home school district to meet the needs of the student. Nonpublic special education day programs are often referred to as "separate day schools" or "therapeutic day schools."

Teaching Models

CPS believes in an inclusive model for teaching in order to provide all children with the education that they deserve. By offering and providing multiple types of teaching models, students will receive instruction that best meets their needs and provides more opportunity for success.

Co-teaching

Co-teaching is a learning environment in which two or more certified educators share the responsibility of lesson planning, delivery of instruction, and progress monitoring for all students assigned to their classroom. As a team, these professionals share the same physical classroom space, collaboratively make instructional decisions, and share the responsibility of student accountability. Co-teachers share a common belief that each partner has a unique expertise and perspective that enriches the learning experience. Together, they provide opportunities for students to learn from two or more people who may have different ways of thinking or teaching. They work together to achieve common, agreed-upon goals.

English Language Learners

Chicago Public Schools offers two different teaching program models to best meet the needs of our English Language Learners:

  • Model 1: Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) Schools are required to offer Transitional Bilingual Education (TBE) when there are 20 or more English learners (ELs) from the same language background in school (preschool is counted separately). TBE may be offered to fewer than 20 English learners in the form of English as a Second Language (ESL), or instruction in English and in the home language in core academic subjects.
  • Model 2: Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI) Schools have an option to offer a Transitional Program of Instruction (TPI) instead of TBE when there are 19 or fewer ELs from the same language background at school (preschool is counted separately).

All schools offer English as a second language (ESL), and native language supports to students that need language supports.

Have Questions?

Complete and submit this form to request assistance and support for your child regarding special education.

Contact Information

Office of Diverse Learner Supports and Services

42 W. Madison St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: 773-553-1800
Fax: 773-553-1801
Email: odlss@cps.edu

School Assignment Services
Phone: 773-553-1847

Student Transportation
Phone: 773-553-2860

Nursing Information
Phone: 773-553-4589

Page Last Modified on Monday, November 19, 2018