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Significant Support Needs Center Program

program overview

Significant Support Needs (SSN) Center Programs are located within neighborhood schools. Rigorous instruction and programming is designed to address individualized needs to maximize potential including increased communication and independence for further education, employment, and independent living.

All instruction is guided by district-approved curriculum and the state modified standards. All students within SSN center programs have the opportunity to achieve a Jeffco regular high school diploma and voluntary access to transition services (18-21), as determined by the IEP team.

program focus

Students in the Significant Supports Needs Center Program are highly diverse learners with Individualized Education Programs (IEPS,) with extensive needs in the areas of cognition and learning, communication, movement and social/emotional abilities. Students may also have concurrent health, sensory, physical, and/or behavioral needs.

  • Evidence-Based, Differentiated Instruction: Evidence-based, direct, small group differentiated instruction in literacy, numeracy and problem-solving in order to acquire and generalize knowledge;

  • Substantial Communication Supports: Substantial supports for communication, social/emotional, health, sensory, and mobility needs;

  • Intensive Instruction and Adaptations: Intensive instruction, substantial adaptations (modifications and accommodations) and/or ongoing supports in order to provide engagement and meaningful participation in grade-level curriculum

  • Assistitve Technology and Tools: Tools to access curriculum and to demonstrate knowledge and skills, student behavior, social skills, and life skills that foster independence and self-advocacy, including access to assistive technology and visual supports

  • Direct and Explicit Instruction for Social Skills: Direct, explicit instruction to address student behavior, social skills, and life skills that foster independence and self-advocacy

  • Indepedence Encouragement: Planned fading of supports, as appropriate, to increase and encourage independence.

  • Adapted Materials and Individualized Instruction: Materials are substantially adapted and instruction is highly individualized and differentiated so students can access learning in alternative ways. This will allow students to acquire, maintain, and generalize academic and functional life skills at school, work, home and community.

Grade-Level Standards of Instruction

Students are provided with specialized academic instruction using modified grade-level standards in the center program. Additionally, SSN center programs focus on functional communication instruction with the end result being that every student has a consistent and usable communication system that can be used in and out of the school setting..

Adaptive, Academic and Communicative Skills

Programming in SSN Centers focuses on teaching academic, adaptive and communicative skills in order to increase independence. Students in the SSN center program have significant cognitive disabilities and are assessed using alternate assessments.

General Education Classroom Time

Time in the general education classroom is not treated as privilege. Rather, like any student on an IEP, it is individualized based on student needs. SSN teams work closely with the general education teachers to maximize opportunities for inclusion with purposeful and meaningful time with peers without disabilities.

THE BIG 5 OF THE significant support NEEDS PROGRAM


Every student will have rigorous and standards-based Instruction as well as consistent progress monitoring.

functional communication

Each student has a meaningful communication system that is efficient, effective, functional and understandable across a variety of people and environments.


With respect to social relationships, curriculum emphasizes the development of social interaction skills with adults and peers for a range of occasions and environments.

  • Each student has a meaningful communication system (i.e., verbal/AAAC/sign/pictures) that is efficient, effective, functional, and understandable across a variety of people, environments and content.
  • The communication system is used by the student consistently throughout the day and in all school environments.
  • Educational team members present information to students in a consistent modality matched to the student’s age, modality, and language ability.
  • Transition planning procedures are customized and accessible for each student to determine interests, strengths, and needs in the areas of career/employment, education, and independent living.
  • Includes instruction and supports to help students learn and adapt to new environments.
  • Larger topics are broken down for instruction (e.g., conversation skills) into more teachable units (e.g., initiations, turn-taking, asking questions, terminating), task-analysis, backward chaining, chunking

Adult Support

Each program is staffed with:

  • Learning Specialist (Special Education Teacher)
  • Mental Health Provider (MHP) (Psychologist or Social Worker)
  • Para-educators

Adult-to-student ratio is 1:3.

Partnerships with general education teachers are vital to the success of each student academically and socially. General education teachers provide inclusive classrooms and build relationships with each student to support their transition in and out of the classroom..

The IEP team determines if a student needs SSN Center Programming. The district determines the location of the placement with consideration of parent input.

Exit Criteria

Guiding discussion questions, with a focus on independence, are considered to determine when a student is ready to exit the SSN program:

  • How does the student independently follow classroom routines of a general education classroom?
  • How does the student independently follow behavioral expectations in a general education classroom?
  • How does the student access grade level standards?
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