District leaders play a key role in ensuring that all students, including those with disabilities or learning differences, have access to a high-quality education. Through our engagements with superintendents and cabinet-level leaders from districts across the nation, we are surfacing promising practices for creating more inclusive student experiences that lead to a richer profile of success. These forward-thinking system leaders recognize that an integrated approach to special education results in more equitable opportunities for achievement.

Students with disabilities or learning differences bring a wealth of unique experiences and perspectives to the classroom. They can help their peers strengthen durable skills such as team-work, communication, and understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). These skills are top of mind with employers and are essential to preparing students for the future of work. An effective special education system can also increase overall graduation rates by helping close the 15.9% graduation rate gap between students in special education and the general population.

Here are four systematic approaches district leaders can take to support special education:

  1.  Leverage current DEI initiatives
  2. Capitalize on existing continuous improvement models
  3. Align special education with general classroom practices
  4. Use student experiences to inform interventions

Read the full article about special education strategies by Gene Pinkard at Aspen Institute.