LEAP: LEARN. ENGAGE. ACHIEVE POTENTIAL. is our approach to supporting the social-emotional and academic needs of neuro-diverse learners. LEAP is a collaborative effort by the university’s Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, the Semel Institute, and UCLA Lab School.


Embracing and Understanding a Range of Learning Differences

As a school, we value embracing and understanding diversity in all its forms and ensuring equity and inclusion for all learners. Neuro-diversity is an aspect of diversity that is often misunderstood, misinterpreted, or simply not discussed.

Neurodiversity refers to the range of differences in individual brain function and behavioral traits, regarded as part of normal variation in the human population. Neuro-diverse learners encompass a broad range of learning differences that can include conditions such as anxiety, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), dyslexia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). To provide equity and inclusion through education, neuro-diverse learners need:

  • Access to the curriculum
  • A systematic, data driven plan to guide academic and behavioral goals
  • Social supports and peer connections
  • A learning community that understands this aspect of diversity

As a university laboratory elementary school, we draw from the expertise of UCLA researchers in fields that inform and impact student teaching and learning. Our lab school mission includes engaging with researchers to develop best practices and to share them with educators more broadly to make a positive impact in education.


  • Work collaboratively to support and improve the academic, behavioral, socio-emotional, and physical development of complex learners in an inclusive, democratic learning community.
  • Explore models and best practices through research.
  • Engage in outreach to make a positive impact in public schools.

UCLA Lab School, together with GSE&IS and The Semel Institute, are collaborating toward this vision of equity and inclusion for all.

LEAP for Your Child

It is important to note that our capacity and resources have limits, and it is therefore necessary that parents let us know when applying for admission to the school whether their child may benefit from LEAP. In this way, the school can best plan to receive students.

As a university laboratory school, UCLA Lab School does not provide the full range of possible disability services that a district may provide.

Families applying for admission to the school must indicate on the application whether their child may benefit from LEAP. The application, which is completed online, includes a section for this information.  The general admission application and all supporting documents must be submitted by the posted deadlines. For all information related to the general admission application, see our Admissions section.


Who collaborates with parents to review and determine the support services to be provided by the lab school?

The LEAP Team will collaboratively review and determine the support services that can be provided by the school. The LEAP Team is comprised of the child’s parents, specialist and general teachers, school psychologist, and administrators.

Students who are determined to need more specialized instruction will have instruction that is modified in ways to help students access the curriculum while working on academic, social, or physical development goals that address their needs either in a small group, or individually, for different periods of time.

When applying to the school, what is the process for determining whether a student receives support through LEAP?

It is important that the lab school be provided with information regarding any psycho-educational evaluation, whether through an IEP in a public school or through a private evaluation (any such information provided to UCLA Lab School will be maintained in strict confidence and will be accessible only to school employees who require such information in order to perform their school duties). Applicants are accepted in the same manner as all other applicants: randomly and blindly according to the demographic and research needs of the school. Once accepted into the school and before the start of the new school year, the school will initiate the LEAP process so that the team can discuss the student’s learning differences, what supports are needed, and how supports will be provided by the school.

Is LEAP a separate classroom or a separate program?

LEAP is an approach that supports individual students in their learning process. Our objective is to teach in the most inclusive space while optimizing a child’s learning. All students receiving additional support through LEAP services will continue to be assigned to their classroom, and supports will be provided within their classroom. If deemed necessary by the LEAP Team, a student may receive more specialized instruction in a smaller environment for varying periods of time during the day individually or with a few students in order to meet their specific learning needs.

What services do you provide through LEAP?

LEAP provides opportunities for students to receive services as determined through the LEAP Team Process either within the classroom or through a pull-out model. The following services are currently provided:

  • Speech and language (English and/or Spanish)
  • General occupational therapy
  • Literacy intervention support (English and/or Spanish)
  • Math intervention support (English and/or Spanish)
  • Social skills support

UCLA Lab School does not provide one-to-one support for children needing continual adult intervention.

As a university laboratory school, UCLA Lab School does not provide the full range of possible disability services that a district may provide

Is there a separate admissions tour for LEAP?

There is no separate tour focusing on our LEAP approach. LEAP will be explained at all Prospective Parent tour days.

Is there an extra tuition cost for students who receive support services through LEAP?

The school’s tuition and financial assistance application process remains the same for all students.

Is a waitlist carried over from one year to the next?

There are no waitlists from one year to the next for any students. 

What is the sibling policy for students receiving LEAP?

The sibling policy remains the same for all students. See Admissions Criteria for information on the policy.

How many children will LEAP serve?

For the purpose of research, UCLA Lab School strives to approximate the California K-12 public school demographics for students with IEPs, which is approximately 12%. In order to be efficient in providing supports, it is therefore important that parents inform the school when applying as to whether there is an interest in LEAP services. In this way, the school can best plan to receive students.

As a university laboratory school, UCLA Lab School does not provide the full range of possible disability services that a district may provide.

LEAP has been described as a pilot program. How long will it be in operation?

LEAP is not a program. LEAP is an approach. UCLA Lab School has been increasing the services provided for complex learners over the past few years. LEAP will continue to evolve and change over the years to refine the work we do to support students.

Who do prospective parents call if they have questions or need more information about LEAP or applying to LEAP?

Please direct your questions to us at: LEAPquestions@labschool.ucla.edu

Please provide contact information so that we can respond directly to your questions.