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Monday, June 30, 2014

The 50 Best Private Special Needs Schools in the United States

From Masters-in-Special Education Guide

June 28, 2014

NOTE: Massachusetts families of children with special needs are fortunate to live in a resource-rich environment, with access to first-rate clinical services and a wide range of excellent schools serving diverse populations. Not surprisingly, Massachusetts placed five schools among the top 50 in this nationwide survey of private special education schools. Congratulations to all!


In the future, we would like to compile separate lists to evaluate the myriad schools which exist for specific needs. But with the acknowledgment of the imperfect terms, the editors hope to begin with this list entitled 50 Best Private Special Needs Schools in the United States, with the umbrella term used basically to designate any student who has difficulty with success in an academic environment, whether because of the need for a physical accommodation, a cognitive challenge, or an emotional obstacle.

Schools for students with special needs address academic, physical, social, and/or emotional issues. In this list, specific services provided by each ranked school are outlined. The editors considered both boarding and day schools for this list, and when a ranked boarding school offers day school options, it is noted.

Selections were made based on the following:
  • The school has a rich curriculum based on variety of offerings/tools to service its students.
  • The school has a low student-teacher ratio, which is important to schools which serve all types of learning abilities, but when students struggle in more than one area, the student’s learning experience is enhanced by specialized attention from a trained teacher. Many of the schools chosen have a faculty of whom over 50% possess Master’s degrees or above.
  • The school has won awards for teaching, excellence, or architecture.
  • The school offers unique programs which transcend the basic academic curricula, like animal therapy, links to colleges, online learning options, sports, or art.
N.B. The language in this article takes its cue from the individual school’s designation. For example, if a school refers to its students as having special needs, learning disabilities (LD), learning (dis) abilities, or learning differences, our editors followed suit in that school’s write up.

The editors have attempted to create as geographically diverse a selection as possible while representing the schools which best fall under the methodology.

All stated tuition prices are subject to change; stated pricing may be approximate, and does not include additional fees such as entry or incidental fees, costs for books, meals, technology, or medical care.

13.) Eagle Hill School, Hardwick, MA

Eagle Hill School serves students with verbal, non-verbal, and attention-based learning (dis) abilities by establishing an environment of support and creative, demanding instruction. Its particularly low student-faculty ratio (3:1) ensures not only individualized attention to each student’s needs, but encourages relationships between students and teachers which last throughout a student’s tenure at the school.

As a college preparatory program, Eagle Hill provides both academic instruction and core enrichment, including mandatory courses on personal finance and college orientation. Most Eagle Hill graduates go on to attend renowned universities, and many remain in contact with the school’s significant alumni/ae presence.

Profile: Co-ed boarding school for grades 8-12 with day school options
Student-Faculty Ratio: 3:1
Awards: Outstanding Design Award by American School & University Magazine (2013)
Tuition: $67,850/year (boarding); $48,099/year (day)

24.) Riverview School, Cape Cod, MA

Located in the historical village of East Sandwich on Cape Cod, Riverview School offers integrated instruction and holistic care of students with complex language, learning, and cognitive disabilities. Students are encouraged to understand their needs, take risks in their learning processes, and develop critical thinking and personal advocacy skills. During the course of the year, students collaborate together and with faculty to meet personal goals and participate in enhancement options such as inclusive sports and chorus.

The school offers a transitional program for graduates of the school to learn life preparation skills, including the school-based Café Riverview, a restaurant and bakery which employs students and gives them the opportunity to pursue careers in food services and hospitality.

Profile: Co-ed boarding school with day school options for ages 11-22
Student-Faculty Ratio: 6:1
Awards: Student Center selected as a Green Building of America Award-Winning Project (2009)
Tuition: $74,745/year

27.) Carroll School, Waltham, MA and Lincoln, MA

Carroll Schools are designed to meet the needs of students with superior intellectual abilities who struggle with language-based learning disabilities. A Carroll student typically scores high on cognitive tests but has difficulty with reading and writing skills. Using the Orton-Gillingham approach—in which teachers diagnose a student’s specific needs and then design a curriculum for reading/spelling development which involves sequence, strategy, review, and fluency—the school encourages students to be active, self-sufficient learners.

In addition to academic focus, students at Carroll have access to performing arts, studio arts, woodworking, and technology programs, including visual media instruction which includes experience with green-screen filming and stop-motion video.

Profile: Co-ed day school for grades 1-9
Student-Faculty Ratio: 3:1
Tuition: $42,672/year

29.) Landmark School, Prides Crossing, MA

Students come to Landmark School with dyslexia and other language-based learning difficulties and transition as confident, competent graduates of a school that focuses on improving the academic and social lives of each student. Faculty and staff concentrate on all students individually, intending to foster strengths, address weaknesses, and uncover the talents and potential present in each.

Landmark uses multiple modalities in teaching, meaning that instructors acknowledge the various ways in which students learn (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile) and design lessons based accordingly. For Landmark’s high school students, a college preparatory program is offered, and young adults learn the importance of critical thinking, personal organization and time management, and writing across the curriculum.

Profile: Co-ed boarding school with day school options for grades 2-12
Student-Faculty Ratio: 3:1
Tuition: $67,600/year (boarding); $51,300/year (day)

47.) Chamberlain Int'l. School, Middleboro, MA

Chamberlain International School accepts students from around the world with learning or emotional challenges which make succeeding in mainstream schools difficult. Upon acceptance, students are assigned to a therapist, clinician, or social worker (depending upon the individual needs) who assists the student throughout her/his duration at the school. Chamberlain’s intent is to wholly serve the student and her/his parents by focusing on three main aspects of a young person’s development: educational, clinical, and social life. In addition to the school’s strong academic and therapeutic programs, it also offers instruction in art, music, drama, automotive technology, and aviation.

All students take part in an enrichment program, which complement the academic curriculum, and encourage development of skills and outside interests. For example, students who participate in the auto mechanics program have the opportunity to take on a project of re-building a car, while those in the aviation program get to fly planes and build up credits toward a pilot’s license.

Profile: Co-ed boarding school for ages 11-22 with day options
Student-Faculty Ratio: 8:1
Awards: Teacher Marge Rose received Direct Care Worker of the Year from The National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC, 2014)
Tuition: Upon request

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