Improved Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

This month’s Bright Spots come from the Quality Improvement Process (QIP) team at Hillcrest Elementary School in Peekskill.

What were students able to achieve?

Students with disabilities:

  • spent more time in general education classes
  • took on leadership roles as team and class leaders
  • increased the frequency and quality of their student-led discussions demonstrating higher levels of critical thinking
  • developed a growth mindset
  • increased reading stamina and comprehension as well as knowledge of math concepts and facts

What practices or systems made this possible?


  • learned about and implemented evidence-based practices
  • developed a common language around planning scaffolded lessons, then collaboratively planned specially designed instruction and co-taught lessons
  • had students start each lesson discussing “why is this important?” with each other
  • collected and analyzed RtI data with clinical staff
  • engaged in inter-classroom and -grade visitations
  • held classroom celebrations for student behavior
  • increased parent involvement

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

When a team of teachers and administrators collaborate to identify the critical school and life outcomes for their students with disabilities, and then collaboratively create, implement and evaluate a quality improvement plan that is shared with staff for feedback on an on-going basis, students achieve critical and life-long academic and social-emotional skills.

This month our Bright Spot comes from  Monique Bonfiglio, Technology Teacher at Summit School, who attended the RSE-TASC Explicit Direct Instruction (EDI) Institute.

What were students able to achieve?

  • Ms. Bonfiglio reports that, since integrating EDI practices into her lessons, student engagement has increased, students are on-task, and students voluntarily participate more frequently.

What practices or systems made this possible?

  • “After attending the RSE-TASC’s workshop on Explicit Direct Instruction, I have used this framework consistently, resulting in positive student learning and behavior outcomes.  I spend less time trying to figure out how to deliver instruction now that I use the EDI lesson plan template. I am specially designing instruction for my student with IEPs and am able to cater my content delivery and methodologies around my students’ unique needs.”

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

Specially Designed Instruction (SDI), defined in NYS regulations as “adapting, as appropriate to the needs of a student with a disability, the content, methodology or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs that result from the student’s disability”, is most effectively delivered when grounded in whole-class explicit instruction.  When lessons are planned and carefully structured, SDI that meets the unique needs of each student with a disability in that class can be built into every component of that lesson.


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