The Rochester Learning Academy is built upon the following four pillars:

  • A variety of learning pathways to every student; including classroom-embedded, technology-based, project-based and outside-of-school pathways will accommodate different learning styles while applying the same universally high academic expectations for all. Students will be encouraged to take an active role in planning their own education, and opportunities to propose and co-design additional projects or courses of study will be provided. Teaching strategies, learning environments, and time can be variable, but learning standards will remain constant. (adapted from New England Secondary School Consortium Council Global Best Practices)


  • Extended Learning Opportunities (ELO) will be a vehicle for personalized learning experiences whereby students can work towards mastery of specific competencies, which will lead to earning high school credit towards a diploma outside of the traditional classroom. Extended Learning Opportunities will offer educational experiences that are meaningful and relevant, and will provide students with opportunities to explore and achieve at high levels.


  • Student directed secondary transition planning will engage special education and long term services providers to develop a meaningful and coordinated set of transition activities that motivates students, and helps them build the necessary skills to achieve their long term goals. This result-oriented transition planning is driven by student ownership and personalization.


  • Establishing a school social culture consistent with Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) will allow for students to achieve social and academic gains while minimizing problem behavior. This decision making framework helps to improve academic and behavior outcomes for all students. Staff members will teach and acknowledge appropriate behavior before relying on negative consequences, establish a continuum of behavioral and academic interventions for use when students are identified as needing more intense support and use data for continuous improvement of support (adapted from PBIS.org).


The Rochester Learning Academy exclusively serve students from the Rochester School District. Upon careful review of the child’s IEP and recommendations from the special education placement team, decisions related to admissions will be made collaboratively between the Rochester School District liaison and the Rochester Learning Academy Program Director.

The Rochester Learning Academy, grades 7-12, will be made available to students with emotional and related disabilities whose behavior has prevented them from being successful in a traditional school setting. Students must be identified with one of the following special education disabilities to be considered for admission: emotional disturbance, other health impairments, specific learning disability, speech-language impairments and/or traumatic brain injury.

Students with an extensive history of violence will not be considered for admission.

The Rochester Learning Academy follows the Rochester School District curriculum and calendar.  Individual exceptions will be made when a student is registered for a class in a program approved by the New Hampshire Department of Education including, but not limited to VLACS, or an adult education provider.


Rochester Learning Academy students have the opportunity to earn a standard high school diploma through one of three options. The decision regarding diploma options is individualized, based on the student’s credit history and their personal goals.


Diploma options:

  1. Standard diploma from Spaulding High School (26 credits)
  2. Standard diploma from Rochester School District’s Bud Carlson Academy (20 credits)
  3. Standard diploma from Strafford Learning Center (20 credits) Strafford Learning Center diploma requirements are:


Required Subjects


Arts education

½ credit

Information and communications technologies

½ credit or demonstrate proficiency


4 credits


3 credits, including algebra credit that can be earned through a sequential, integrated, or applied program

Physical Sciences

1 credit

Biological Sciences

1 credit

US and NH History

1 credit


½ credit

World history, global studies, or geography

½ credit

Health Education

½ credit

Physical Education

1 credit

Open Electives

6 credits




20 credits

High school credits will be earned through the following pathways:

  • Courses at Rochester Learning Academy,  taught by certified staff
  • Courses at Rochester Learning Academy, taught by RLA staff in consultation with certified content teacher at Spaulding High School
  • Extended Learning Opportunities with consultation and guidance from certified staff
  • Courses at Spaulding High School (primarily elective or specialized classes)
  • Courses through Virtual Learning Academy Charter School (VLACS)