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Special Education Review


Strengthening special education services will strengthen our system as a whole. Our work will support all students, but especially those with special needs. The recent Special Education Opportunities Review gives us a good analysis of what areas need the greatest attention.

The review identified several high impact opportunities to raise achievement for struggling students, such as:

  • reading instruction at the elementary and secondary levels
  • access to grade-level content and expectations of mastery for all students
  • maximizing staff time for students who need support in speech and language, occupational therapy, physical therapy and social work
  • flexibility to match staffing to enrollment of citywide classrooms, while ensuring the needs of students drive the placement of programs

We must have an integrated approach to serving students. Our programs and staff in general education and special education must be aligned. We must ensure that students who receive special education services are included in classrooms with their general education peers as much as possible.

  • Students must receive more access to direct instruction that is tailored to his or her specific learning needs.
  • We need to make sure that staff have manageable workloads so that students receive the greatest benefit of their efforts.

Next Steps:

  • The Special Education department is creating a short-term plan to improve instruction for special education students entering the 2014-15 school year. The plan will:
    • identify and hire a new executive director of special education services
    • increase the number of literacy coaches and general education teachers working directly with special education students on core instruction
    • increase inclusive instructional opportunities for special education students
    • provide more training for both general education and special education teachers and support staff
    • refine the budget planning process to reflect the special education program restructuring