Academics & Curriculum


Academics & Curriculum

Westlake School provides all academics as required by the New Jersey Student Learning Standards and as identified in each student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The following are taught at each student’s individual instructional level.

Academic Curriculum

  • Edmark Reading Program
  • Reading Milestones
  • Touch Math
  • ABA Instruction/Techniques (Autistic program)
  • Foss Science Kits
  • AFLS Assessment
  • ABLS Assessment
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Social Studies - Leveled Daily Curriculum - Levels 1, 2, & 3
  • Second Step - Social & Emotional Curriculum 

Language Arts Literacy
Instruction includes activities in reading (decoding, encoding, and comprehension), writing, spelling, listening, speaking and handwriting.  Strategies consist of phonics, sight word recognition, listening and reading comprehension and expressive and receptive language activities.  (Edmark Reading Program, Reading Milestone)

Instruction consists of computation (number identification, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) and application (word problems, life skills math, money math).

Social Studies
Instruction focuses on grade-level related topics, from communities at the early elementary level to US History I and II at the high school level.

Instruction centers on grade-level topics from elementary weather to high school biology. (Foss science curriculum)

Instruction is provided by the physical education teacher and the school nurse educating students on topics that range from personal care to fitness and healthy eating.

Instructional Program Components

  • Pre-Vocational/Vocational Workshop – learning work readiness skills in a structured environment
  • Structured Social Groups – Boy & Girl Scouts, karate, school spirit day activities, dances
  • School Wide Positive Behavioral Supports Program – ongoing reinforcement
  • Receptive/Expressive Skills – Communication/Language embedded throughout program – AAC, sign language, iPads
  • Community Based Instruction (CBI) – Connections with Local Senior Citizens, Runnells Specialized Hospital, PSE&G, Library, Clark Shoprite, Bowling, Target, Post Office
  • Structured Learning Environments (SLE) - Exposure to work skills in the community setting with SLE paraprofessional assistance
  • Travel Training – Exposure to taking public transportation to and from job work sites. (i.e. bus schedules, taxi’s, Access Link)
  • Activities of Daily Living – students learn the skills needed to live independently in an apartment setting including:  grooming, toileting, brushing teeth, meal planning and meal preparation, clothing selection and care, house cleaning and care, consumer skills and safety
  • Art – Exposure to different cultures, types of art and opportunities for creativity
  • Aquatics – at the Scotch Plains/Fanwood YMCA – student are provided opportunities for structured swim and leisure
  • Adaptive Physical Education – (APE) – instruction adapted to the individual needs of students
  • ABA Based Approach (Autistic Program) – Data collection and behavioral supports.  Instruction is broken down into smaller structured steps in order for students to master skills
  • OT/PT Therapy Room – fine motor, sensory integration, gross motor skills 
  • Computer/Technology – students are exposed to data entry, searching online resources
  • Pet Therapy – Creature Comforts dogs visit monthly


Westlake School offers a variety of academic programs depending on the student’s age and ability:

  • All 7-to-13-year-olds focus on building skills in reading, writing and mathematics. These skills are applied in social studies, science, health, physical education, art, and computer technology. Additionally, these students participate in expanding their abilities in pre-vocational work readiness skills, daily living skills, and social skills. 
  • In addition to their academic studies, high school student’s ages 14-to-17 have an opportunity to participate in enhancing their vocational skills through structured work readiness workshops that are designed to target job specific skills that will assist students in becoming employable. 
  • Secondary students, ages 18-to-21 participate in work readiness programs at Westlake school and in the community. Programs include:
  • Food Science – A home economics course which teaches students text book skills of home preparation of food, calorie intake, sanitation and safety, healthy eating, shopping and independent living skills.
  • Vocational Program – The vocational program focuses on preference of target job skills, money and banking skills, interviewing and independence of daily living skills.
  • Can do Café – Students participate in an off site structured learning experience at the First Children’s School in Fanwood with the assistance of an SLE paraprofessional.  Students go to work during the school day and learn how to serve customers, count change and prepare simple breakfast foods.
  • Structured Learning Experience (SLE) – Students participate in a less structured work experience in various community settings with the assistance of an SLE paraprofessional.  Sites include: Shoprite and Marshalls.

Westlake Students participate in State Testing: Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM), Alternate Proficiency Assessment (APA) for Science and PARCC

Extended School Year (ESY)

The Westlake ESY program continues to address student’s academic and therapeutic needs over the summer!  Students attend field trips, participate in social activities and experience a variety of assemblies that correlate to topics they are learning in the classroom.

The ESY programs focus is to ensure continued academics in Language Arts and Math.  Student therapies are maintained as indicated in student IEP’s which includes: PT, Speech, OT and Counseling. 

The ESY program runs for 30 days through July and early August.