Individualized, Competency-Based Goals

For each classroom project, each student will have a rubric of competencies, pulled from the Common Core and State Essentials Standards, that are appropriate for the student’s academic skill level. Teachers will determine students’ skill level for mathematics, language arts and science by reviewing previous academic records and state test results, as well as any notes or analyses from psychologists, therapists or other specialists that are in the students’ files or made available to the school by the students’ parents.Goals for the other curriculum areas – information technology, arts education, social studies, healthful living, and guidance – will be determined through review of previous records and through consultation with parents and students. The parents and students may have certain priorities they wish to focus on that will immediately improve a student’s well-being and independence. For example, in the area of healthful living, the parents of a student who is obsessed with germs and hand-washing may feel it is especially important for the student to work on the goal “Create positive stress management strategies” instead of the goal of “Analyze wellness, disease prevention, and recognition of symptoms.” (Both examples are goals from healthful living section of North Carolina’s State Essential Standards for high school.) Furthermore, conversations with parents may reveal certain strengths that are not evident in the student’s academic record. For example, parents may note that a student has a strong memory for geographic directions on a local level, and the teacher may focus on social studies goals involving maps, with the long-term goal of greater success in social studies throughout the rest of his academic career.

Individualized Non-Academic Goals

In order to ensure that we equip our students with the cognitive, problem-solving, and collaborative skills they will need in order to live independent and fulfilling lives as adults, each student will have non-academic goals. These goals will cover the following areas:

  • Flexible thinking – accepting changes in routine, coming up with more than one way to do something, recognizing that some statements are not meant literally, recognizing that there is more than one way to look at a situation or problem
  • Problem solving – using previously obtained knowledge and experience to tackle a new problem, trying different approaches if a first attempt is unsuccessful
  • Collaboration – working with others, integrating another’s input into your own ideas, recognizing when to take the lead and when to let a peer take the lead on an assignment
  • Social skills – engaging with peers and engaging with others in appropriate manners (e.g., understanding the difference between how one engages with a teacher and how one engages with a sales clerk)
  • Communication skills – expressing one’s thoughts or emotions and understanding the thoughts and emotions expressed by others
  • Self-regulation – responding to stress, frustration and emotions in a way that addresses one’s needs but is not disruptive, disrespectful or dangerous
  • Self-advocacy – speaking up for oneself, making decisions about one’s life and education, identifying people and resources that can be of help, knowing one’s rights and responsibilities

Teachers, therapists, the special education coordinator, parents, and the student (if possible) will work together to develop the student’s goals for each semester. The teacher will give the student project-based tasks that help him work on and achieve these goals, and the assessments of these goals will be based on the teacher’s observations as well as reports from parents and others on improvements in the student’s skills outside of school.