Core Academics

At Lakeland, we agree with the Wisconsin Department of Instruction that states,

“All students, including students with significant cognitive disabilities, deserve and have a right to a quality educational experience. This right includes, to the maximum extent possible, the opportunity to be involved in and meet the same challenging expectations that have been established for all students.”

  • English/Language Arts (ELA)

Students at Lakeland access literacy skills through curriculum aligned with ELA Essential Element Standards. The ELA EE standards are organized in the following manner: 

  • Reading (Literature)
  • Reading (Informational Text)
  • Reading (Foundational Skills)
  • Writing
  • Speaking and Listening 
  • Language

In order to assure a balanced K-12 literacy program, teachers follow a common framework based upon Children with Disabilities: Reading and Writing the Four Blocks Way, developed by Karen Erickson and David Koppenhaver. This framework is an example of research-based, systematic instruction that addresses literacy instruction in a comprehensive manner. Teachers prepare standards-based lessons employing a variety of research-based materials and proven strategies designed to meet the needs of students who require direct, explicit instruction. Teachers study and implement many of the strategies recommended by Dynamic Learning Maps, which can be found on-line at

In the younger grades, programs such as Early Literacy Skill Builder, Early Reading Skills Builder, Pathways to Literacy, Building with Stories, MeVille to WeVille, Reading A-Z, RAZ-Plus, Co-Writer, and First Author Writing Curriculum are a few of the available materials teachers incorporate into instruction. With the knowledge that “one size” does not fit all for our diverse readers, we continually search for research-based materials that fit our framework, the standards, and most importantly, the needs of our readers.

In High School, Start-to-Finish Core Curriculum is one of the anchor programs utilized, giving our older students the benefit of reading some of the most important books of all time. In addition to actual books and a planned-out lesson format, students have access to a wide selection of engaging books in the on-line library. Books such as Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, and Anne Frank, are written at an elementary level and have the supports our students need to fully experience the stories while building reading skills. Reading is supported with professional narration, word- and sentence-highlighting, and built-in physical accessibility features. Juniors and Seniors typically participate in theater productions based on these classic books, giving the rest of the school a chance to see our stars on stage.

Lakeland School ELA Guide

  • Math

Our K-12 math curriculum is Equals by ABLENET, which is a specially-designed, research-based math program for students with disabilities. Equals was developed by experts in the math field, as well as experts in the special education field, in order to provide a true math experience with built-in strategies necessary for teaching our population of students. Lakeland School has adopted Equals because of the following features:

  • Proven special education math curriculum with successful outcomes
  • Multi-sensory
  • Scope and sequence with foundational skills aligned to standards, K-12
  • Progression of learning with connected content for continuity of learning
  • Problem solving focus
  • Adaptations to think, choose, move, talk, write, and much more
  • Fidelity success training with continuous teacher support
  • Vocabulary instruction
  • Formative, informal, and formal assessments
  • Aligned to WI alternate standards (Math Essential Element Standards)


  • 4-year study: 161% increase in math skills (Click here to view a report on the Equals Mathematics case study)
  • Students observed using math language appropriately in class, outside of classroom, and at home
  • Students observed completing a math task, stopping to check and think, and correcting their answer
  • Lessons created with built-in and ongoing support for teachers for implementation and addressing unique student needs

Lakeland School Math Guide

  • Science

The Wisconsin Essential Elements for Science were developed to satisfy the requirement of the U.S. Department of Education that Wisconsin have alternate achievement standards for students with significant cognitive disabilities. These standards are: 

  • Clearly linked to Wisconsin’s academic standards 
  • Promote access to the general education curriculum 
  • Reflect professional judgment of the highest expectation possible 

Teachers at Lakeland follow the Science Essential Element Standards. These alternate achievement standards provide a more authentic, real-world approach to help our students learn science. Lakeland Science Teachers cover topics covered in general education science classes; however, lessons are developed with the goal of emphasizing the “Big Ideas” of a concept to allow our students to truly learn science.

  • Social Studies

Wisconsin has recently updated the WI Social Studies Standards. Currently, we do not have alternate standards for Social Studies. Therefore, the Lakeland Social Studies Teachers are working together with the Director of Curriculum to develop alternate standards linked to the general education standards. These standards will serve as an authentic guide for developing rigorous lessons because the standards will be:

  • Clearly linked to Wisconsin’s academic standard
  • Promote access to the general education curriculum
  • Reflect professional judgment of the highest expectation possible

Lakeland Social Studies Teachers cover the same topics covered in general education social studies classes; however, lessons are developed with the goal of emphasizing the “Big Ideas” of a concept to allow our students to truly learn.