Theme: Personalized Learning
Organization Level: System
Critical elements: Leaders in higher-performing districts/systems are convinced that all students can achieve at high levels, including those with disabilities or other specialized academic needs. At the same time, they recognize that not all students learn in the same way or at the same rate and therefore create challenging, yet personalized, programs in which all students can strive to reach their potential.
Practice: Deploy resources and guidance to support schools’ efforts to prepare all students for college, and explore in innovations in personalized instruction to meet students’ varied needs.

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CriteriaLess Effective PracticesSuccess Factors for Meeting State StandardsSuccess Factors for College and Career Readiness
Flexible, Data-Driven Interventions for College & Career-Readiness

The prevailing mindset is one of compliance with legal requirements to provide supports, such as those set forth in Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), rather than on providing a coherent, high-quality education to all students. As a result, the instructional program offered to students with specialized academic needs is not aligned with general education learning objectives. IEPs are not implemented with fidelity as few resources are allocated to support teachers with implementation.

Schools are committed to providing a flexible program to support all students in mastering the content and skills set forth in the standards. Although the instructional activities and pace of the curriculum may vary based on students needs, schools in the district/system provide a high-quality, standards-based instruction and intervention program to all students, including those with disabilities and specialized academic needs.

The college and career readiness goal is inclusive of all students in the school community and is expressed in the district/systems communications with parents and students, as well as reflected in its flexible, multi- tiered district/system approach to intervention. The program of study for all students, including those with specialized academic needs, is closely aligned with the college and career ready curriculum to foster the highest levels of achievement for all students.

Innovations for Personalization

The range of approaches used to meet the needs of diverse learners is relatively narrow. The district/system relies on a fewmostly traditionalmethods, such as tracking based on ability, grade-level retention, self-contained classrooms, and remedial classes to provide instruction for those students who are not experiencing success in the academic program.

To match the varying levels and types of need, the district/system offers varied configurations of student support for mastery of content and skills. Schools have central support in adopting coherent district/systems of student support, such as multi-tiered district/system of supports, and provide professional development for classroom-based differentiated instruction and intervention.

The district/system is committed to a college and career ready mission, characterized by a high degree of personalization. District/system leaders support meaningful innovations in differentiating instruction, such as adaptive learning software, blended learning configurations, electronic textbooks, extended-day schedules, in-house tutoring, and co-teaching.

Integration of Specialized Academics and College & Career-Ready Program

Special education and general education are two distinct departments within the district/system. Little collaboration occurs or is expected at various levels within the district/system. Special education coordinators may be unfamiliar with the district/system-wide curriculum, and school leaders and teachers may lack visibility into the specific needs of students in their schools or how to meet them.

The district/system supports collaboration between special educators and general education teachers as part of a team approach to helping all students achieve mastery. Recognizing that many interventions designed to support students with specialized needs are effective strategies for all classrooms, the district/system offers combined professional development and other opportunities for sharing of best practices.

The district/systems specialized academic instruction is highly integrated with the challenging, college and career ready program. Resources are devoted to co-teaching and/or co-planning for student success. Special education teachers facilitate district/system-wide training in classroom differentiation, accommodations, and modifications. Correspondingly, special education staff participate in all strategic curriculum, instruction, and assessment activities as aligned to the district/systems vision.

Inclusive Approach to Specialized Academics

Specialized academic instruction is considered to be a place where students go to have their needs met. Students with disabilities are served by schools but are clustered by disability type or level in special day classes and other separate programs, making coordination with general education difficult.

Students with disabilities are served in general education classes for at least part of their course schedule. They may also receive instructional support via special education push in teachers or pulled out for a significant portion of their academic instruction.

The district/system views specialized academic instruction as an array of services rather than a menu of settings. Students with disabilities spend the majority of their day in general education classrooms where services are pushed in, allowing maximum access to grade level standards and teaching.

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