McLean Hospital 115 Mill Street Belmont, MA 02478
Our college preparatory curriculum meets all appropriate standards to prepare students for a high school diploma and includes classes in core subjects such as English, math, science, history, and world languages. Arts, health, and fitness classes are also offered, along with an array of electives.
Students at the Arlington School can experience a more consistent education because we have the flexibility to adjust our curriculum to accommodate social and emotional issues that would otherwise interrupt learning. Course progression is organized by grade, but often students come to us with educational gaps. Adjustments are made to the individuals’ courses as needed.
The Arlington School also provides an array of academic supports and opportunities to help students become better equipped to manage the demands of their course work. These supports are wide-ranging to meet the needs of a diverse group of learners and support the mission of the school.
Our teachers and staff realize that, in addition to traditional basic literacy, students need the vital skills required in this digital age, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. We incorporate this into our academics as well as use technology with students throughout each day.
The Arlington School resource room is a small, quiet classroom where a teacher works with students using techniques geared toward a special-needs population. Students receive assistance with homework and related assignments as individuals or in groups. The development of executive function skills—including homework management and behavior—are included in the program.
In addition, the resource room is used for students to utilize their individual coping strategies to effectively manage the school day. Time in the resource room can also be used as an opportunity to check in with clinical staff for support and problem solving.
Many students enroll in a study skills class and are expected to use this time productively. Students can complete class assignments, work on homework or a project, read a book or magazine, work on creative writing assignments, or conduct research. Also, students can access one-on-one assistance with academic work or get help with time management, organization, concentration/memory, note taking, test taking, and research skills.
The mission of the Arlington School Library is to support all members of the school community with the resources and skills necessary to be successful readers, researchers, and users of information in the 21st century. The library can be a place for quiet reflection or a lively environment, depending on what activities are taking place.
Most students have a directed study in their daily schedule. Students enrolled in a study can complete class assignments and homework, read a book or a magazine, work on a project, or use time for online research. Study supervisors are available for one-to-one assistance with academic work and can communicate with classroom teachers for recommendations about how a student might make good use of study time. Students can also get help with executive functioning skills or meet with a clinician or the transition specialist during this time.
All students are assigned to an academic advisor whom they meet with once a week for 20 minutes. Students are encouraged to use the sessions to identify academic concerns and to monitor their own progress toward academic goals. Advisors communicate regularly with classroom teachers and clinicians, assist students with identifying concerns, and help students plan steps to address problems and make progress toward goals.
If a student is hospitalized during the school year, a designated staff member contacts a hospital program staff member to discuss how best to provide schoolwork for the student. The Arlington School collaborates with hospital staff or with contracted educational services to ensure that hospitalized students who are able and willing have access to texts, materials, and assignments selected by Arlington School teachers, with the goal of maintaining their current level of academic functioning. Credit for Arlington School work completed outside of school is determined on a case-by-case basis.
Distance learning courses let students take high school level courses not offered at the Arlington School. Courses are designed so students may start at any time, and work is done independently at the student’s own pace. Arlington School proctors provide structure, guidelines, and due dates. Students are usually given one year to complete the course, but it can be completed in less time. Students are also assigned a directed study course if they are taking a distance learning course.
Dual enrollment lets students take college courses for both high school and college credit. This gives students the chance to take on the emotional and academic challenges they will face as a college student while they still have the support of the Arlington School.
Students can be considered for dual enrollment as early as the second semester of their junior year, assuming they are performing at a high academic level. To participate in the dual enrollment program, a student must be found eligible by the student’s transition specialist, clinician, and academic teachers. The application process is facilitated by the Arlington School’s transition specialist.
Our transition specialist guides students through the process of preparing for college or preparing to return to the community school setting. The specialist provides access to college and vocational institutions through fairs, visits to schools, and dual enrollment courses. All students can engage in the college application process, career exploration, internships, and community service opportunities.
Part of the transition program is dedicated to helping students become independent young adults. This work can happen in individual meetings or with families during an informal transition meeting, as a lot of the work must happen at home. The transition specialist can also support students and families in applying for standardized test accommodations related to location, extended time, additional breaks during the test, and assistive technology.
Plans for transitions back to community high schools are discussed with students, their parents, Arlington School faculty, and the student’s school district. When a student advocates for a return to a less restrictive setting, the academic and clinical faculty make recommendations based on the following criteria:
We also support and encourage our students to research community internships, vocational opportunities, and part-time employment to accompany their academic and clinical successes. Some students may receive a small stipend for participation in volunteer opportunities.
About 80-90% of our students attend two- and four-year colleges immediately after graduation. Our transition specialist assists students in all aspects of transition planning so that students can meet their academic and vocational goals upon high school graduation. The specialist attends individualized education program meetings and works with students’ teachers and clinicians to determine appropriate post-high school plans. Meetings with the transition specialist increase in frequency as students begin their senior year.
As students receive college acceptances and are deciding where to attend, students work with the specialist on identifying mental health and academic supports needed to thrive in a college setting. Once a student has made a deposit and officially enrolled, the transition specialist supports the student in applying for academic and clinical accommodations.
If a student has had academic and/or clinical difficulty during their senior year, the transition specialist can also offer guidance about the deferral process, the benefits of commuting to college, or starting at a community college and transferring.