WHAT WORKS FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES: Practices & Systems That Improve Student Outcomes
Every student with a disability in New York State has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) developed collaboratively with their family and the educators from their school district. This collaborative team is called a Committee on Special Education (CSE), and it considers the student’s strengths, the student and family goals and concerns, and the results of the student’s individual evaluations and state/district assessments in order to identify any unique needs related to the student’s disabilities and to develop an IEP that will benefit the student educationally. New York State has regulations to establish best practices in developing IEPs and providing Special Education services.
Students with disabilities drop out of school and are underemployed as adults at alarmingly high rates. Research has identified a number of school- and district-based strategies that significantly reduce the drop-out rate and increase the likelihood of post-school success. These include strategies that enhance student self-esteem, engage students in setting short- and long-term goals and creating plans to achieve them, extend family outreach and connect them with adult services agencies, and provide work-based learning opportunities.
A wealth of studies over the last 40 years has consistently identified a set of instructional planning and delivery practices that are highly effective with all students, but particularly effective with students from poverty, English Language Learners and students with disabilities. This set of practices has been organized into a framework entitled Explicit Instruction (EI) or Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI). While Explicit Instruction is a whole class approach to planning and delivering instruction, it is a critical foundation for effective delivery of Specially Designed Instruction (SDI). SDI is the adaptation or modification of the content, methodology and/or delivery of instruction so that the unique learning needs of an individual student are addressed.
Research shows that schools with a continuum of responses for building positive school cultures and encouraging appropriate student and adult behavior produce higher academic and better social-emotional outcomes for their students. These schools use a framework for organizing school-wide, small group and individualized discipline and behavioral strategies to increase instructional time, prevent problem behaviors, and respond appropriately to disruptive behavior.
Schools and districts can engage in meaningful school improvement using proven organizational change strategies. The RSE-TASC Special Education School Improvement Specialists facilitate a quality improvement process (QIP) based on proven organizational change and leadership strategies in select schools that are focused on improving outcomes for students with disabilities. QIP teams engage in developing effective team structures, analyzing student data to create meaningful measurable student outcome goals, and identifying and prioritizing evidence-based practices and systems to implement to achieve those goals.
The Blueprint for Improved Results for Students with Disabilities was developed in consultation with the Commissioner’s Advisory Panel for Special Education, parents and technical assistance providers. The principles in the Blueprint were carefully selected as those that are essential to achieve the goal of improved results. This statewide framework is intended to clarify expectations for administrators, policy makers and practitioners to improve instruction to prepare students with disabilities for success beginning in the preschool years in order to lay the foundation for post-secondary readiness and success.