Special Education Service Delivery and Programs

Child Find Services

Child Find is the process for screening, evaluating, and identifying all children from birth through age 21 with special needs, whether or not they are currently enrolled in Frederick County Public Schools.

Parents of school-aged children who suspect that their child may have an educational disability should contact their community’s school.

If the child is younger than five, contact FCPS Child Find at (301) 644-5292.

All special education service delivery and classrooms are non-categorical per Maryland regulations. Students identified with any handicapping condition may be served in any of these settings or programs, depending on the nature and severity of their individual needs and their individualized education program. These classrooms are characterized by a high level of diversity and individualization, and use a wide variety of materials, strategies, and instructional programs to address students’ learning styles and needs.

General Education in a Comprehensive Frederick County Public School

Special Education services are provided to students with disabilities who are learning along with their non-disabled peers with the implementation of their Individualized Education Program (IEP). There is a range of special education services in the general education setting offered at each building to meet students’ individual educational needs.

These services include:


No direct services are provided to the student. Special educators and/or related service personnel review the student’s performance in general education classes at least quarterly. The provider of the consultative service also consults with the IEP team and general education staff who work with the student to discuss strategies that support the student’s continued progress.


Co-teaching is a partnership or collaboration between two or more instructors. Frequently, this partnership consists of one general educator and one special educator, but it can be any pairing of instructional staff including but not limited to general educator, special education teacher, intervention teacher, school-based specialist or related service provider. It involves the distribution of responsibility for planning instruction and evaluation for a classroom of students.

Push In

Special educators schedule services on a flexible basis. Schedules are coordinated with the general educator based on student need in inclusive classrooms where student(s) with disabilities are accessing general education curriculum. The push-in model is not a traditional “co-teaching” model. The special educator may provide services in multiple classrooms within the same instructional period. In the push-in model the special educator’s role can include, but is not limited to: modifying curricular resources, planning with the content teacher(s) and leading differentiated groups, as well as planning and implementing re-teaching or modified versions of any learning episodes

Open Resource

An Open Resource room is available to students with an IEP at any point during their instructional day for access to accommodations, supplementary aids and services, test preparation or completion, completing assignments, guided practice with an emerging skill, and/or re-teaching. Students should not access the resource room during direct instruction of their content area classes. The resource room is open throughout the day and is monitored by a trained staff member (special educator, SEIA, general educator, etc.).

Pull Out Resource

Students are scheduled to meet with a provider to support IEP implementation, including accommodations, supplemental aids, goals/objective instruction, pre-teaching or re-teaching. The student’s service hours on his or her IEP reflect how often and how long a student is “pulled” for the resource. Best practice suggests that students are pulled during non-academic times or non-direct instruction. This location can be in a special educator’s classroom or in any specified room in the school.

Special Education Programs

Overview: FCPS provides free appropriate public education for children from birth to age 21 who need special education services due to developmental, cognitive, emotional, or physical disabilities. All schools provide special education services. Specialized programs are housed throughout the county in many general education buildings. Students may also receive special transportation and other related services as appropriate, determined through their Individualized Education Program (IEP).

1) Infants and Toddlers Program: This interagency program provides early-intervention services for children with developmental delays ages birth through the beginning of the school year following the 4th birthday. Services are provided during naturally occurring family routines. Services address each family's unique priorities for their child in areas such as social relationships; using knowledge and skills (reasoning, problem solving, early literacy and math skills); and taking action to meet needs (feeding, dressing, self-care and following health and safety rules). Early-intervention experts assist families in knowing their rights to services, communicate with people who work with the child and family, and help the child develop and learn. Services are provided at no cost. The Frederick County Health Department is the lead agency, working with FCPS, the Frederick County Department of Social Services and Maryland School for the Deaf. For information, call the Frederick County Developmental Center, 301-600-1612.

2) Child Find Services: Child Find is a process for screening, evaluating, and identifying all children from birth through age 21 who have special needs. Parents of school-age children who suspect their child may have an educational disability should contact their community school. If the child is 2 years and 9 months or older and not enrolled in school, parents should contact the Child Find office at 301-644-5292. For information regarding the Child Find process for children younger than 2 years and 9 months, contact the Frederick County Developmental Center, 301-600-1611.

3) Special Education Pre-Kindergarten: FCPS offers a full-day educational program at selected sites for children ages 3-5 who require support through an inclusive special education pre-k classroom. Inclusive pre-k classes educate all students using academic standards while implementing Inidividualized Education Programs (IEPs) for eligible children who have been identified with a disability. Participation in this program provides opportunities for all students to strengthen their social and academic skills through an inclusive preschool setting.

4) Expressions Program: Expressions provides integrated and enhanced special education supports for students with functional communication needs. Students are provided with a variety of communication methods as they develop verbal speech and/or a functional communication system in a small, structured classroom with opportunities for inclusion with non-disabled peers. The program uses a variety of instructional strategies and evidence based practices, including principles aligned with Applied Behavioral Analysis. Programs are staffed with a high adult-to-student ratio.  

Students work on the Essential Elements of the Maryland College & Career Readiness Standards, adaptive, self-advocacy, life, and functional communication skills. Students pursue a High School Certificate of Completion and graduation status is reviewed annually. 

5) Learning for Life: Learning for Life provides integrated support to students with a variety of developmental and cognitive disabilities in a small, structured classroom with opportunities for inclusion with non- disabled peers, as appropriate, within a general education school. Students learn functional academic and life skills while receiving instruction on the Essential Elements of the Maryland College & Career Readiness Standards. Students pursue a High School Certificate of Completion and graduation status is reviewed annually.

6) Pyramid Program: Pyramid provides integrated support to students with significant social and emotional needs. Intensive special education and therapeutic services are provided in a small, structured setting within a general education school. Students have opportunities for inclusion in general education classes with non-disabled peers, as appropriate, and are pursuing a high school diploma.

7) SUCCESS Program: SUCCESS is a transition-education program for students ages 18-21 who have an IEP and are pursuing a Maryland High School Certificate of Completion. Students considered for the program have completed at least 4 years in a comprehensive high school, have had work experience and exhibit potential for competitive employment. The program focuses on developing skills for independent living and functional academics and offers students a range of employment opportunities.

8) Rock Creek School: Rock Creek is a special education program that serves diverse functional academic, medical and behavioral needs, as appropriate, for students; ages 3-21 who have significant cognitive disabilities and are working on a Maryland High School Certificate of Completion. While there is an emphasis on functional academics, instruction is also based on the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards. Communication, decision-making, interpersonal, career/vocational, recreational/leisure and community-based skills as well as other IEP needs are addressed, as appropriate. Related services may include adapted art, music and physical education, assistive technology, occupational and physical therapy, and hearing, vision and speech/language services.

9) RISE (Responsive Interventions for Student Excellence): The Hillcrest Elementary RISE program at Frederick County under the authority of Sheppard Pratt Health System, Inc. is a Type II School program developed to assist students with autism spectrum disorders, emotional disabilities, or other appropriate disabilities, transition to a less restrictive setting. The school serves male and female students in grades 1-5 that are expected to earn a high school diploma. The program has a capacity of ten student and is a collaborative effort between the Sheppard Pratt Health System (SPHS) and the Frederick County Public School System (FCPS). SPHS provides classroom, related service and various support staff. FCPS provides classroom space, materials and access to the general and special education resources of Hillcrest Elementary School. The Frederick County curriculum (MD College, Career and Readiness Standards) is used as the basis for instruction. The school is located at Hillcrest Elementary.

At a minimum, the elementary school students begin in General Education Cultural Arts classes (Media, Physical Education, Art and Music). As a student progresses academically and socially they are integrated in general education classes based on their readiness in English, Math, Social Studies and Science. Students are encouraged to take part in extracurricular activities with general education students that range from academic, arts, and sports. SPHS staff (education assistants) provides support to the students in general education classes. All students in the RISE program at Frederick County program receive individual and or group therapy provided by the school’s Mental Health Provider. Student needs and time in sessions is determined by the IEP team and is specified in the IEP.  Students learn social skills that will enable them to navigate within society and lead to increased adult and peer communication abilities. An example of a skill learned within the group is reading non-verbal cues and working as a team to learn the skills that improve student’s overall self-confidence. The speech pathologist also meets with students as prescribed by the student’s IEP. SPHS staff work closely with Hillcrest’s academic and administrative staff on behalf of all students within the school building daily.

The RISE program goals are for students to:

  1. Obtain an appropriate and challenging education that develops productivity, creativity, problem-solving skills, and communication skills.
  2. Acquire social skills that will help them maintain a successful path through secondary education, world of work, and adult life.
  3. Internalize and master knowledge and technologies that will emphasize civic life, integrity and personal independence.
  4. Integrate students into the public school instructional program to the greatest extent appropriate.