Theme: Personalized Learning
Organization Level: School
Critical elements: Leaders in higher-performing schools are convinced that all students can achieve at high levels, including those with disabilities or other specialized academic needs. At the same time, recognizing that students learn in different ways and at different rates, they create a challenging, yet personalized, program in which all educators work together to help students reach their potential.
Practice: Develop systems for identifying student needs and strengths, monitoring student progress, and customizing individual learning experiences, including multi-tiered systems of support.

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CriteriaLess Effective PracticesSuccess Factors for Meeting State StandardsSuccess Factors for College and Career Readiness
Performance Data & Interventions

Schools do not provide interventions until students are failing. By the time educators perceive and respond to learning difficulties, students may be performing well below grade level. At the same time, repeated failure may cause students to disengage from learning, further compounding the challenge of closing the gap with grade-level performance.

School leaders and interventionists quickly identify students skill gaps and learning difficulties using frequent assessments aligned with standards and a grading district/system that reflects mastery. Timely and appropriate interventions address students needs, minimize falling behind, and limit the duration of students feeling lost or unequal to the challenges of the program.

Interventions are closely aligned to student performance data. Diagnostic and placement assessments administered at or before the start of school help personalize the students program before learning difficulties manifest themselves as student failure. The effectiveness of interventions is then tracked via ongoing assessments throughout the year.

Monitoring Specialized Academic Instruction

School leaders have minimal visibility into the work of special educators. Specialists are hired, assigned, and supervised at the district/system level. The degree to which specialists are aligned with the schools goals or integrated into the school community varies significantly from school to school.

School leaders participate in hiring and evaluating special education teachers, as well as monitoring the quality of the program of specialized academic instruction. Teachers of students with specialized academic needs are considered part of the instructional team, collaborate with general education teachers, and attend staff meetings and other staff events at the school.

School leaders serve as instructional leaders for all students, regardless of designation. School leaders ensure that students with specialized academic needs receive the highest quality of instruction and an appropriately paced and supported college and career ready curriculum in all settings in which they are served.

Intervention & Differentiation in the Classroom

Providing specialized academic instruction is considered the responsibility of specialists. Other than implementing provisions of IEPs or other formal plans, teachers are not expected to differentiate instruction, modify curriculum, or provide other interventions to meet students learning needs.

Teachers and specialists share responsibility for student achievement. Classroom teachers are expected to differentiate their instruction to support all students to be successful, including those with specialized academic needs.

General education teachers serve as key interventionists in the school. Teachers lesson plans include provisions for specialized academic needs, and the schools staff evaluation district/system includes the expectation that teachers will demonstrate skill in differentiating instruction.

Support for Interventions & Differentiated Instruction

Little or no support is provided to teachers in the area of differentiation and classroom interventions.

Schools ensure that teachers have the knowledge and skills required to make appropriate adjustments to their instruction. Teachers have a clear understanding of how their students with disabilities learn and receive training in effective teaching methods to support academic success.

Schools recognize that effective classroom intervention and differentiated instruction require skill, support, and practice. In addition to providing collaboration time with special educators, school leaders include differentiation methods in new teacher training, instructional coaching and supervision, and ongoing professional development. The schools Special Education department actively participates in all core content instructional decisions.

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