Academic Supports for Students with Disabilities

Nate Jones | Boston University
Sharon Vaughn | University of Texas at Austin
Lynn Fuchs | Vanderbilt University

Breaking Down the Issue

  • All current federal guidance indicates that, even during Covid-19 stay-at-home orders, schools still need to provide students with disabilities an education that a) is individualized and b) ensures they make appropriate progress.
  • Students with disabilities are one of the student populations likely to have regressed the most during COVID-related distance learning.
  • The single most important service schools provide for students with disabilities is additional intervention time devoted to students’ specific areas of need.

Strategies to Consider

  • Small-group or one-to-one intervention 3-5 times per week is a proven way to meet individualized needs.
  • Many features of effective academic and behavioral interventions may still be successfully delivered in a distance learning setting.
  • Interventions need to be supported by regularly collecting student data, focusing on skills and concepts known to predict academic or behavioral outcomes, and using these data to make instructional decisions.
  • Special educators’ time is best used for the delivery of interventions in small groups or one-on-one.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Co-teaching, an approach where special educators support students with disabilities in the general education classroom, will likely be insufficient to meet students with disabilities’ current needs.
  • Parents and guardians cannot be the primary providers of students’ educational and/or behavioral interventions.
  • Postponing evaluations that determine eligibility for special education services will likely lead to more severe student difficulties in the future.