Ivymount Aspire Program

Academic & Applied Learning Model

The Academic & Applied Learning Model places an emphasis on students achieving their highest levels of autonomy.  An explicit instructional approach to lesson design and delivery, grounded in evidence-based methods, is provided to help students learn and apply material independently across generalized settings.  Academic content instruction is aligned to content standards and applied instruction is delivered across the areas of social skills, job readiness and career awareness, community skills, and daily living skills. Teaching occurs at school, in community jobsites, and in the community.

This model is designed to serve students who are successful in a highly structured, small group instructional environment with accommodations and modifications. Students are those who may not have been successful in less restrictive settings due to the academic and adaptive demands. Students often require modifications to the general education curriculum such as slowed pacing and/or simplification of language and content, in addition to accommodations.

Students participate in either a diploma or certificate program and after graduation, transition into the workforce and/or college. 

The model seeks to empower students to move in the direction of their goals through self-determination and self-advocacy; removal of barriers that may have prevented academic achievement in other settings, and explicit adaptive or applied everyday life skills instruction that builds student autonomy across school, community, and home. Foundational to this goal is a community where relationships are cultivated between students, staff, and families to ensure learning occurs in a safe and supportive environment.

Disabilities Served 

Autism Spectrum Disorder, Intellectual Disability, Speech or Language Impairment, Multiple Disabilities, Other Health Impairments, Specific Learning Disabilities  


Elementary/Middle School (grades K-8) and Secondary School (grades 9-12), ages 4 to 21 (students earning Certificate of Completion) 

Curriculum and Instruction 

Instruction is provided in highly structured, small groups of approximately 3-5 students to one teacher. This ratio allows each student to receive the level of attention and support they need to maximize their success and learning. Instructional methods are grounded in evidence-based methods from the fields of applied behavior analysis, special education, and general education, ensuring that students learn, maintain, and apply their learning outside of the classroom. Central to this goal is active student learning. Students engage in frequent active student responding and/or rehearsal of skills. This serves to promote engagement and success. Each student has an individualized schedule and transitions between classrooms throughout the day (e.g., from English to homeroom).  

Academic instruction is aligned to jurisdictional content standards and delivered with needed modifications and accommodations. Academic areas include English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies, in addition to technology, current events, health, and sexuality. Adaptive instruction is provided in the areas of self-determination and self-advocacy, study skills, social interaction skills, job readiness and career awareness, community skills, and daily living skills through teaching at school, community jobsites, and in other community settings. Adaptive instruction expands in type and amount as students progress through grades. For example, in elementary school, completing daily routines, maintaining personal belongings, and social and group learning skills are prioritized. In middle school, we focus on pre-requisite skills for community participation and pre-vocational training along with health, sexuality and hygiene training.     

Course Sequence 

Students pursuing a high school diploma typically participate in an extended high school program across five or six years as compared to a standard four-year program as determined by the student’s IEP team. This extra time allows students to participate in courses to increase prerequisite skills, remediate courses, and allow access to adaptive programming that otherwise would not be possible given the rigorous diploma course requirements.  

Students pursuing a certificate of completion remain in the high school program for approximately three to four years based on age, before moving to our Post High School (PHS) Program. These students participate in academic courses and are provided increased access to functional academics and adaptive programming.   

Students' Perspectives on Productive Futures