The Guild School's mission is to empower students to realize their full potential and become independent, engaged citizens and learners. This past year, school staff have demonstrated their commitment to these ideals by implementing a new school-wide curriculum, Unique Learning System (ULS), that allows greater accessibility and consistency across classrooms.

 ULS is a special education curriculum based on the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principle of eliminating barriers, so all students are engaged in the classroom. The new curriculum achieves this by meeting students where they are by stratifying each lesson across three levels.

“For example, a math lesson on multiplication might include complex, multi-digit word problems in the level three lesson and shorter, more basic problems for level one students,” says Emily Calden, Associate Director of Education. Tailoring lessons to students’ unique needs increases access to appropriate, challenging content and streamlines lesson planning for teachers.

The new curriculum, which incorporates expanded Assistive Technology (AT) features, aligns with The Guild’s FY22-24 Strategic Plan by giving students the tools they need to make decisions about their academic goals and future. “The ULS curriculum makes it easier to identify and provide for AT needs so students can more fully communicate and express themselves,” says Emily.

Emily emphasizes the importance of incorporating the latest AT tools into each lesson and recalls a recent memory with a student who had typed out paragraphs about his day that were difficult to understand. After using a speech-to-text tool, his story came to life, and he could see his grammatical errors in the first version. "Introducing more AT tools will allow our students to work on higher objectives," says Emily.

The new curriculum also offers robust reports individualized for each student that measure progress and identify areas for growth. “ULS streamlines the process of tracking student data against Massachusetts state standards and IEP goals,” says Shannon Brennick, Associate Director of Education.

Shannon and Emily commend Guild teachers for putting in the work to transition to the new curriculum seamlessly. “We want to give teaching staff major credit for diving in head-first to make this work for the students,” they note.