What are the first steps that Ms. Flores, the school principal, and the School Improvement Team should take to support students with disabilities throughout the school system?
Page 5: Ensure Shared High Expectations
When a school’s staff has high expectations for all students, they believe all children can learn. Here are some examples of how this works:
- Principals and teachers believe that “all students are academically competent when they are given the tools for constructing knowledge” (ERIC/ OSEP Special Project, 2002, p. 13).
- Teachers engage all students, including those with disabilities, in classroom activity. Research shows that “students actively engaged in academic learning achieve better results” (Wallace, Anderson, Bartholomay, & Hupp, 2002, p. 357). In other words, teachers spend more time in activities, such as asking and answering academic questions, than in disciplining, managing behavior, or assigning independent work, such as worksheets.
- Students are assessed in several different ways, and teachers use assessment results to modify teaching strategies.
- When a student struggles, teachers find a different way to teach the material. Teachers at Glendale Elementary School say, “It’s my job to find a way they can learn.”
To achieve high results with their school, principals and teachers:
- Track the progress of students
- Participate in professional development focused on improving students’ performance
- Encourage various types of collaboration
- Include students with disabilities in the general education curriculum and assessments, with appropriate accommodations when necessary
Benefits to Staff and Students
When teachers and school leaders demonstrate that they have high expectations for all students, most students will:
- Develop a desire to learn and to succeed in their academic work
- Perform well on standardized tests
- Feel like teachers care about them and that they belong to the school community
It is crucial that every child has access to the general education curriculum. However, as the severity of the disability increases, modifications to the general education curriculum will also increase.
Listen now as Margaret McLaughlin describes how special education affects the general education curriculum based on the individual needs of students with disabilities (time: 3:21).