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Home Our Program Academic Program

The Academic Program

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Students learn about geography in their social studies class.

Aseltine’s Academic Program is built on the belief that developing academic skill and knowledge requires students’ active involvement in the learning process, unlike traditional educational approaches that treat students as passive recipients of information.  At Aseltine, staff do not ask students to merely memorize information; instead they pose academic challenges as problems to be imaginatively understood, thoughtfully analyzed, and creatively solved. This process teaches students to eliminate less effective approaches to overcoming their barriers to learning and to establish new/better approaches so they can become effective critical thinkers.

At Aseltine, students work with staff in an active partnership to develop academic goals based on each student’s individual learning style, needs, and Individualized Education Program (IEP) goals.  Staff engage with students in a shared decision-making process characterized by mutual respect and understanding.  We consider all students to be capable, talented, and in control of themselves – even when it appears otherwise.

Teachers design curricula that employ multiple modalities (e.g. tactile, visual, and aural) to address diverse learning styles and to create active learning experiences that keep students alert and engaged as they read, watch, listen, inquire, write, discuss, manipulate objects and data, complete group and individual projects, and participate in field trips.  This diverse approach to academics teaches students to understand the material and how they learn and process information.  With their new knowledge and insight, students can begin to overcome their obstacles to learning, regain belief in their abilities, recognize the importance – and relevance – of school to their lives, and learn to become active, purposeful, and effective learners and problem-solvers – and then to apply what they learn here to their lives outside of school.  It gives students opportunities to achieve what they once thought impossible – success in school – and in life.

Class Structure and Size

Aseltine offers specific skills instruction and remediation in small groups or on an individualized basis.  Students are grouped in a variety of ways, depending on content area and each student’s need, level of academic skill, commitment to academics, and social skill development.  Classes generally have between 5 and 15 students.   The average class has about 12 students and has at least one teacher and one classroom aide.


Core courses include:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Social Studies 
Aseltine also offers additional courses to broaden students’ horizons and enhance their skill sets.  These courses include: 
  • Fine Arts                                                                      A staff member helps a student build a simple motor in technology class.                        
  • Cultural Awareness
  • Computer Literacy
  • Technology
  • Physical Education
  • Vocational Education 
        - Transition Skills 
        - Culinary Arts
Students also have the option to take higher level math and science courses online in partnership with Apex Online Learning, a standards-based digital curriculum that uses the power of technology to create an active learning experience for students.


Aseltine students also benefit from special services: individual sessions of speech and language therapy and occupational therapy as appropriate, Students in the Community after-school program, and monthly problem-solving events as well as intermural sports leagues.


Aseltine’s creative and unique program for working with students with learning disabilities and behavior issues has led to extraordinary advances on the part of our students and has been hailed as ground-breaking.  Aseltine is considered an innovative leader in California special education.