Equitable Access to Deeper Learning: A Focus on Students with Disabilities

Published aug. 24, 2015

 resources for deeper learning, and the second focusing on deeper learning's implications for English language learners and immigrant students—will be released in the next few weeks. Another, Deeper Learning for Students with Disabilities is now available on our website.

Authored by Sharon Vaughn, director of the Meadows Center at the University of Texas, and Louis Danielson, Rebecca Zumeta, and Lynn Holdheide of the American Institutes for Research, the report notes that of the more than 6 million students with disabilities enrolled in the nation's elementary and secondary schools (13 percent of all students), the majority spend most of the school day in general education classes. And if those students—no small number—are to enjoy the full benefits of deeper learning, then general education teachers will need to know how to support them.

Fortunately, the paper goes on to argue, a number of specific, research-based instructional practices have been shown to be quite effective in helping students with various kinds of disabilities to learn deeply. And, just as important, they include teaching strategies that do not require highly specialized training—every general education teacher should be able to master a handful of key techniques and principles that can go a long way toward providing the support that most students need. Moreover, the paper points out, if the deeper learning movement is serious about providing meaningful instruction in self-regulation, cognitive processing, goal-setting, and other intrapersonal skills, then it ought to look to the research in special education, which has a wealth of relevant expertise that can inform instruction for all children.