AASD Department of Special Education

Michelle Sanders
Department of Special Education, Director
Michelle Sanders

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Administrative Assistant
Tracey Rhodes

Mission Statement

It is our mission to prepare each of our students to be contributing members of society and to participate successfully in our local, as well as the global, community. We guide students to achieve academic skills while at the same time facilitate their social and emotional development, with a goal of becoming lifelong learners.

Our students are educated in a school community where everyone belongs and is accepted. Every attempt is made to educatioe students with special education needs in the least restrictivve (inclusive education) environment. Our primary goal is to integrate them into general education classes; however, we make modifications and provide supplementary aids and services in an effort to folser success.
The Altoona Area School District, Department of Special Education, conducts evaluations to determine if children are eligible for special education services. This service is also provided to students who may be eligible for gifted education.

A parent or guardian may consult with the classroom instructor or building principal to determine if an evaluation is warranted.

A parent may also request an evaluation by sending a letter to the attention of:

Director of Special Education
1221- 6th Avenue
Altoona, PA 16602

This service is offered to students residing within the boundaries of the Altoona Area School District.

The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA)

The Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA) is a statewide alternate assessment designed for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities.  Specifically, it is intended for those who are unable to participate meaningfully in the Pennsylvania State Assessment System (PSSA) even with accommodations.  By administering the PASA to student with severe disabilities, schools are able to have all students participate in a statewide accountability system. 

 The PASA is a series of individually administered image-based multiple choice tests given each spring to students by their teacher or another assessor who knows the student well.  Test administration can be adapted so that even students with the most severe disabilities can participate in the assessment and receive a score.

 Currently, the allowable number of students who are permitted to be assessed using PASA is 1% of total students assessed.  At this time, the Individual Education Program (IEP) teams have reviewed the eligibility criteria for students to take the PASA.  These teams who meet to discuss individual student needs have identified 2% of our students as needing the PASA.