The Best Special Education Programs in California

When it comes to special education programs in California, there are some schools that have set themselves apart from the pack on account of the high-quality education they provide to students.

Special needs students are a diverse group, and there is no one-size-fits-all format, so the sorts of programs that make the grade as far as excellence goes pull out all the stops to help students.

According to the Overview of Special Education in California from the Legislative Analyst’s Office, approximately 10% of California’s students have disabilities that affect their education, and this no doubt means that there is a definite need for quality special education programs in the state.

Read on to learn about the best special education programs in California. While there are more than are contained in this blog post, the list will nonetheless give you a sample of top programs.

Excelsior Academy

Situated in San Diego, Excelsior Academy is a private school that aims to provide a safe and nurturing environment where students can become independent, thinking, literate, and productive. Students from K-12+ with learning disabilities, Asperger’s, ADHD, and more attend the school that offers not only a thorough academic education, but also a transition program that it calls Pathway to Independence. With this transition program, students study various transition and independent living skills such as communication, vocational, motor/mobility, and more.

Westview School

Westview School is based in Los Angeles and, as part of The Help Group continuum of schools, seeks to provide a nurturing and supportive environment to help special needs children to achieve scholastic and personal success. Westview, a private, nonprofit institution, services students with learning disabilities, high functioning autism, ADD, and emotional issues. Westview’s approach involves providing individualized attention, small classroom sizes, extracurricular activities, and counselling services for additional academic and personal support.


Chartwell School

Located in Seaside, Chartwell School caters to K-12 students with a variety of special needs. It aims at empowering students who have language-based learning differences such as dyslexia, and it seeks to offer students the skills and coping mechanisms they need to do well in college and beyond post-secondary school. While Chartwell offers a program that covers the same material as any other school in the state, it also adds a component that includes research-based methodologies to help students to overcome their learning difficulties. As well, it has a student-to-faculty ratio of about 5:1, which means that students get individualized attention.

Alameda County Special Education

Alameda County Special Education is a public school system in the Bay Area. While the student-to-teacher ratio of 25:1 isn’t as favorable as it is at many private special education schools in California, Alameda County Special Education nonetheless offers a quality education to its approximately 4,000 students.

Carmack Elementary School

Situated in San Bernardino, Carmack Elementary School is a public school with around 75 children from grades KG-8. Its mission is to provide instruction needed for students to develop the self-esteem, skills, knowledge, and understanding needed to achieve personal and social development regardless of handicapping condition. Its “Learning, Achieving Succeeding!” tagline underscores the school’s commitment to helping students to reach their full potential.

Again, there are plenty of special education programs in California that are geared towards serving students with special needs. While these programs offer excellence for special needs students, every school in California is required to follow your child’s individual education plan. If you need help getting your child the resources they need, an advocate can provide your family with the representation you need.