An Advocate’s Guide to Transforming Special Education


Creating Schools Where All Students Can Thrive

May 2018

In order for me to thrive, my school must…
Know Me

The school team and families all work together to understand the needs of every student from the student’s first day and track the student’s progress over time.

> Do school teams build strong, trusting relationships with students with disabilities that help them to strengthen instruction and support?

> How do they use data to regularly track each student’s progress and understand their unique strengths, weaknesses, and needs?

> Does the school team authentically engage a wide range of school staff and the parents in the IEP process to ensure the IEP is a meaningful tool that guides the instruction for that student?

DISTRICT / CHARTER SCHOOL NETWORK

> The district/charter network leaders set policies that encourage school staff to frequently communicate with parents about student progress and provides technology that makes it easy to do so.

> The district/charter network leaders have regular town hall or open forum meetings with families to hear concerns regarding special education issues at the district level.

> The district/charter network leaders have an easy-to-use system that allows all teachers, administrators, school psychologists, and the family to easily access a student’s IEP online and obtain a hard copy.

SCHOOL / CLASSROOM

> The school and family communicate weekly about student progress and challenges, and at least quarterly about whether or not the student is accomplishing academic goals.

> All of the student’s teachers know and can articulate his/her strengths, interests and goals, beyond what’s written in the IEP.

> Students know their data and can talk about where they are succeeding and where they need help.

> The school is welcoming to students, and students feel connected to the staff. Students can identify several adults on campus that support him/her — people they would go to if they had a problem.

> The school team builds strong and lasting relationships with students and families.

> Educators use data regularly to measure the academic progress and social-emotional/behavioral development of all students, including students with disabilities, and track whether interventions are working.

> The school team communicates regularly with parents and students about interventions and progress, both inside and outside of school.

YOU ARE VIEWING AN EXCERPT FROM THE FULL CHAPTER IN AN ADVOCATE’S GUIDE TO TRANSFORMING SPECIAL EDUCATION.

The excerpt shows the observable actions that parent advocates should “look for” in a school, organization, or district that is truly doing what it takes to help students with disabilities succeed. Parents can use these “look fors” not only to advocate for their child, but also to push for reforms that are necessary at a broader level.

To read the whole chapter, download it using the link at the bottom of this page.

 

Download and print the full report or individual chapters

Click on the “English” or “Spanish” link to download a PDF.

Full report English | Spanish
Believe in me English | Spanish
Include me English | Spanish
Find me English | Spanish
Catch me when (or before) I fall English | Spanish
Meet me where I am and challenge me English | Spanish
Know me English | Spanish
Involve me and my family English | Spanish
Stick with me English | Spanish

See what it looks like in action.

KIPP Raíces
Academy

A low-income school in Los Angeles where students with disabilities excel.
Read more

Lafayette
Elementary

This San Francisco Unified school shows what great special education can look like.
Read more