Located in Dorchester, the COMPASS School works with students (aged 6-22) with a wide range of emotional, behavioral, and learning disabilities.


It forms a therapeutic environment comprised of Clinical, Behavioral, and Academic components.

Students are referred from 19 public school districts in the Greater Boston area where school has been a struggle and not a consistent, positive experience for the students. Students attend COMPASS on a short or long-term basis depending on their specific needs and the referring school district’s goal(s) for the student. No matter how long a student may attend COMPASS, its committed staff helps change the school experience for the students and helps them engage in their education.

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Clinical Component

Clinicians provide individual and group counseling to all students.

It is essential that all staff members understand the social, emotional, and psychological needs of the students. Services are organized to give continuous assistance to each student, in knowing himself/herself as an individual and as a member of society. This work includes helping students recognize their strengths and correct or compensate for limitations;  relate this information realistically to their needs and potentialities; learn coping skills to address the social problems common to youth; and discover and develop creative interests and appreciations.

By gathering comprehensive information and developing Functional Behavioral Assessments (FBAs), staff is able to provide the above services.

At COMPASS, we believe that the skills needed for students to be successful in school must be taught through prosocial interactions and positive reinforcement. While the behavior management system provides the needed structure for the safety of students and staff, the key to treatment is to “catch the kids being good.” COMPASS utilizes a behavior management policy (the BEAMS system) that provides a comprehensive approach to building skills that lead toward transitioning students to a less restrictive setting.

Behavioral Component

Staff members provide a safe and nurturing environment in which students can grow and learn.

While Caseworkers may be the backbone of our behavioral system, the behavioral work with students starts in the classroom with teachers and is supported by clinical and support staff. It is essential that all staff members provide consistency in implementing school rules and expectations when working with students.

The BEAMS system developed by COMPASS staff members is the philosophical framework upon which the COMPASS school program is based.

BEAMS has three equally important components: Skill Development, Positive Point System, and Step System. The point system is very simple: students earn points, they do not lose them. Students are in control of their reward schedule. There are small rewards that can be “purchased” almost immediately, as well as rewards that may take months to earn. COMPASS staff members are trained annually at orientation and also receive ongoing supervision in using the point system.

Through BEAMS’ comprehensive system of rewards, we provide safety and structure to help develop new skills and extinguish negative behaviors. All students and parents are given a list of behavioral expectations with possible incentives and consequences during the intake process.

Educational Component

While predominately comprised of teachers, it is essential that all staff understand the academic needs and learning styles of our students.

The educational component of COMPASS provides students with access to the general curriculum and strives to ensure that they reach their highest academic potential. Increased literacy and academic remediation are essential to the educational component of COMPASS. Teachers develop curriculum guided by the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks and implement lesson plans in compliance with each student’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP).

In addition to state mandated MCAS testing, students may participate in district-wide testing. Teachers are expected to use a variety of teaching strategies that provided differentiated learning opportunities for students. Teaching and learning are built upon a literacy based, multi-sensory curriculum that incorporates: remedial work; computer assisted learning; real-life activities; cooperative learning; and experiential, multi-cultural, and hands-on lessons.

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