An Advocate’s Guide to Transforming Special Education
Creating Schools Where All Students Can Thrive
In order for me to thrive, my school must…
Meet Me Where I Am and Challenge Me
The school team provides support for students with disabilities, yet still engages them in rigorous, grade-level content every step of the way.
> How does school staff differentiate instruction and interventions based on student needs?
> How do they make sure all students feel supported in taking on rigorous material that they find challenging?
DISTRICT / CHARTER SCHOOL NETWORK
> The district/charter network leaders train principals how to analyze data to make decisions about differentiating instruction and can explain how principals train teachers in that same process.
SCHOOL / CLASSROOM
> The school provides accommodations so that students with disabilities can reach the same expectations as their peers and only provides modifications (changing the content/expectation) when absolutely necessary. Teachers can communicate a rationale for modifications and accommodations.
> All students, regardless of whether they have a disability, have an individualized learning plan tailored to their unique needs.
> The school team meets before any major transition in the student’s education (e.g. moving from elementary to middle school and graduating high school) to align with the student and family on goals, anticipate challenges, and develop a support plan.
> The school has a culture where having different paths to achieve a common goal or outcome is normal and celebrated. The principal, teachers and students can share stories that show this, and students are encouraged to take different approaches to solve problems and reflect on those differences.
> The school trains both general and special education teachers how to use the principles of Universal Design Learning in their lesson planning.
> All students — including those with disabilities — have different learning needs and preferences. Instruction is individualized so that all students can meet the state standards.
> Teachers provide support and services to address the specific disabilities of each student and build upon his or her unique strengths, without allowing a diagnosis or a label to limit their high expectations for each and every student.
> As much as possible, teachers measure students with disabilities on the same tests and assignments as general education students. This assures they are on track toward high school graduation, college and a successful career.
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.
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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