Early Childhood and Elementary Special Education Department (ECE)

Early Childhood Programs

The Early Childhood special education program provides and oversees services for children ages 3 to 5 who experience developmental delays or other disabilities. The Early Childhood program has five main functions:


  1. Collaborate with infant learning programs to transition children from infant services to school district special education services as mandated under IDEA.
  2. Maintain Child Find activities such as the Child Check process as mandated under IDEA.
  3. Assess children for eligibility for special education and related services.
  4. Provide a continuum of educational placements for preschool students based on the students least restrictive environment.
  5. Design and implement special education services (IEP) for preschool students.


Students eligible for special education must receive special education services in their "least restrictive environment." Under IDEA, school districts are required to maintain a full continuum of educational placement options for students. The IEP team determines the educational placement for each student.


Alaska State School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

ASSDHH serves deaf and hard of hearing students from across Alaska, ages 3 through 21, who use sign language as their primary mode of communication. Classes are located at Russian Jack Elementary, Clark Middle School and East High School. Some secondary students attend classes at King Career Center and eligible post-secondary students may attend the ACE or ACT program.


The curriculum supports the development of American Sign Language and spoken and written English, as well as teaching the social-emotional skills that deaf students require. Some students access the general education curriculum in the general education classroom with a sign language interpreter.


Itinerant Speech Services

Children with mild to moderate speech language delays and who are eligible for speech language services only, may receive itinerant speech services either at their neighborhood elementary school or at a school closest to the childcare setting. These services are provided by a speech language pathologist with the emphasis on normal developmental sequences for language and articulation. Parents provide transportation.


Community-based Itinerant Special Education Services (CARE Teams)

Children eligible for preschool special education services may receive special education services in a community setting such as a private preschool, childcare site, home or Head Start site if appropriate for their individual needs. Itinerant teams consisting of a preschool special education teacher and two teacher assistants provide these services.


The emphasis is on providing special education interventions needed for the child to be successful in the child's present setting. Team members collaborate with community providers to best meet the developmental needs of the child. Related services (speech and language, occupational therapy, physical therapy) are not provided in community settings.


Oral/Auditory Classrooms

These classrooms support preschool and primary-aged deaf and hard of hearing students who have cochlear implants or wear hearing aids and communicate verbally. Curriculum and instruction are designed to optimize the development of audition, language, and vocabulary skills across all academic areas.


Students receive oral/auditory rehabilitation from the audiologist and speech pathologist, with generalization of the skills in the classroom setting. Most students transition back to the neighborhood school by fourth grade.

Preschool Communication Classrooms

The communication classroom model is designed to support preschool children who demonstrate a significant delay in expressive speech-language skills and who are otherwise typically developing. A special education teacher (or a regular education teacher with specialized training and skills) and a teacher assistant work collaboratively with the speech pathologist to create a therapeutic environment uniquely engineered to remediate the students' delayed speech skills.


Students engage in highly structured activities that target skills such as attending, listening, phonemic awareness, speech sound development, speech intelligibility, and early literacy. The classroom model provides intensive intervention paired with increased opportunities for guided practice and generalization of skills than would typically be offered through itinerant speech-language therapy sessions.


Preschool Special Education Services

Through the use of a well organized and research-based preschool curriculum these classroom settings promote the development of:

  • communication
  • cognition
  • social
  • self-help skills
  • pre-academic skills
  • fine motor and gross motor skills

Parent involvement is part of the program philosophy and family visits can be planned into the teachers' weekly schedules. These classrooms are located geographically throughout the ASD. Students attend either a.m. or p.m. sessions, five days a week two and a half hours daily.


Preschool Structured Learning Services

This highly Structured Learning Classroom (SLC) incorporates a variety of evidence-based teaching strategies and curricula to facilitate communication and social skills while teaching grade-level expectations. Students may require adaptive living skill instruction.

  • Inclusion opportunities using the continuum of supports available based on students needs.
  • Classrooms are set up using six elements of instruction. Students receive individualized adult support with academics.
    • Individualized Supports and Services
    • Systematic Instruction
    • Comprehensible (structured) Environment
    • Specialized Curriculum: Communication, Social Skills
    • Functional Approach to Problem Behavior
    • Family Involvement
  • Social and communication skill instruction is integrated throughout the student's day.
  • Core curriculum is introduced on an individual basis and is monitored for individual success.
  • These classrooms are located geographically throughout ASD. Students attend five days a week, 4.5 hours daily.

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