OSS Newsletter: November 2016
Published on Nov 10, 2016 15:47

OSS Newsletter header

Happy fall,

I am excited to share with you the first monthly newsletter for the school year. It is my hope that our department's newsletter will serve as a key communication tool for families and staff regarding items that are specific to supporting and educating students with varied needs in the Cambridge Public Schools.

Inside this issue, you will find information about grade level transition planning, program enhancement, community partnerships, updates from DESE and IDEA, Universal Design for Learning, Upcoming events, and Advanced Learning. Our team has written articles and shared information that we hope will be useful to your needs and interests.

It is an exciting time in Cambridge Public Schools and specifically the Office of Student Services. I am hopeful that we will continue to work collaboratively with both our internal and external school community to engage in continuous improvement efforts that will lead to effective educational opportunities for every student.

Make It Great!!


program enrich

Program Enhancement
The Office of Student Services (OSS) is proud to launch its program enhancement activities as part of the OSS Strategic Plan. This year's focus is on enhancing the Autism Spectrum Disorder program during the 2016-2017 school year.
Learn more >>

Structured Academics Updates
During the 2015-2016 school year, the K-12 Structured Academics Program participated in a collaborative process led by Walker Partnerships as the first step in the program enhancement cycle outlined in the Office of Student Services strategic plan.

This year, being the implementation year, OSS has focused on:
–academic instruction by collaborating with an inclusion instructional specialist
–behavioral support by assigning one behavior specialist to work in the program K-12
–therapeutic support by adding additional social workers to the program
–utilizing data collection to inform our practices
–connecting with families using ongoing and frequent communication

As the year progresses, we will offer parent trainings and additional professional development for program staff. Some focus areas are Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Social Thinking, Zones of Regulation, and Collaborative Problem Solving.

dese-idea update

The U.S. Department of Education has created a Newcomer Toolkit to help teachers and administrators to better serve recently arrived, foreign-born students. The toolkit includes tips on instruction, supporting students' social-emotional needs, and establishing partnerships with families.


What is this Thing Called Universal Design for Learning?
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials and assessments that work for everyone, not a single, one-sized-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs (CAST, 2015).

Current classrooms are made up of students who all have a unique blueprint, their brains. Students bring a variety of skills, needs and interest to learning. The evolution of neuroscience has revealed that our differences are as unique as our DNA or fingerprints. When planning for this variability, three primary brain networks come into play: Recognition Networks (the “what” of learning), Strategic Networks (the “how of learning), and Affective Networks (the “why” of learning). These networks are explained in UDL as the Principles of UDL (CAST, 2014).

Universal Design for Learning is not meant to add additional work or responsibility to the classroom teacher. It is, however meant to provide varied means for teaching and learning so that all students experience academic success. UDL is not about any one group of students but there are marked benefits for every student group, even the “average” student.

To learn more about Universal Design for Learning, visit the National Center on Universal Design for Learning at www.udlcenter.org.

Grade Level & Transition Planning
"The Big Transition"
Every year in early spring, the special education teams for Special Start, 5th grade, and 8th grade meet with the receiving school teams in kindergarten, 6th grade, and 9th grade to plan for student transitions. The goal of these meetings is to gather as much information as possible about the academic, social-emotional, and behavioral needs of students transferring from one school to the next. The school psychologists team chairpersons oversee the process to make sure all necessary information is pulled together in a timely manner. Student IEPs and the information shared at these transition meetings is used to assist teams in planning for each student’s upcoming school year and help the district prepare for service and programmatic needs. This year we are enhancing the transition process by including general educators and schools administrators.

This process is fairly new at the preschool level and is well-established at the 5th and 8th grade level.

8th grade > 9th grade in early February
5th grade > 6th grade in late February/early March
Special Start Preschool > JK/K in April

Advanced Learning Support
Did you know that CPS has instituted a new process for supporting scholars seeking additional challenge? To create truly inclusive learning communities, we count on our classroom teachers to meet the needs of all of our scholars through differentiated instruction. We support our teachers by providing resources and tools for the classroom. If a parent or teacher feels that a child would benefit from more challenge, they can start a conversation with their school to determine the appropriate approach. To see how the process works, check out the Academic Challenge and Enrichment page on the CPSD Website! http://bit.ly/cps_acae


Sensory Friendly Movie
November 12
Title: Trolls
Time: 9AM
Location: Apple Cinemas, 168 Alewife Brook Parkway, Cambridge, 02140

Parent Support Groups
Time (Daytime Group): 12-1:30PM *1st and 3rd Friday of the Month*
Location: 1 Broadway St, Cambridge, MA 02142
Time (Evening Group): 6:30-8PM *2nd and 4th Friday of the Month*
Location: TBD
More information and registration >>

Sensory Friendly Dinner
December 6
*First Tuesday of each month*
Time: 5:30PM
Location: IHOP, 16 Eliot St (Harvard Sq), Cambridge, MA 02138
On the first Tuesday of each month, C-PAC will reserve space at a local restaurant. More information >>

A cohort of twenty Special Education Teachers were trained in Orton Gillingham by Mary Briggs, Director of Orton Gillingham training through Commonwealth Learning Center.
“Orton-Gillingham is an instructional approach intended primarily for use with persons who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing of the sort associated with dyslexia. It is most properly understood and practiced as an approach, not a method, program, system or technique. In the hands of a well-trained and experienced instructor, it is a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility.” (Orton Gillingham Society, 2016) The plan is to train cohorts of special educators so that there are at least one to two Orton Gillingham trained leaders in every building PK-12.

The Guidance Center: This organization works in consultation with CPSD staff to support the social emotional needs of students, schools, and programs.

Safety Net Collaborative: This group includes professionals from CPSD, the Cambridge Police Department, Cambridge Health Alliance, and the Department of Human Services who work together to mentor youth and support families.

Doc Wayne: This organization fuses sport and therapy to heal and strengthen youth. 

Cambridge Health Alliance: CPSD has a long-standing relationship with the CHA School-based Programs through the Division of Child and Adult Psychiatry.

State Agencies: Such as the Department of Mental Health, MA Rehab Commission, Department of Developmental Services, etc.

City Agencies: Such as the Department of Human Services, Early Intervention (Cambridge/Somerville/ Riverside & Eliot), etc.



Cambridge Public Schools
159 Thorndike Street
Cambridge, MA 02139


Dr. Victoria Greer
Assistant Superintendent

Jean Spera

Karyn Grace

Shelagh Kelly-Walker

Desiree Phillips



Twitter Facebook Instagram LinkedIn

Website by SchoolMessenger Presence. © 2024 SchoolMessenger Corporation. All rights reserved.