As the demands on special educators continue to increase, the needs of students with disabilities grow more complex, and the gap between the achievement of students with disabilities and those without expands, the need for educators to focus their efforts around critical practices for success has become more evident than ever before.
Enter: The High Leverage Practices (HLPs)
The HLPs, developed as a result of a collaboration between the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEEDAR),are a set of applied methods centered around four aspects of practice: collaboration, assessment, social/emotional/behavioral, and instruction. McLeskey et al. (2017) defines HLPs as “practices that can be used to leverage student learning across different content areas, grade levels, and student abilities and disabilities.” In other words, when the HLPs are in place and practiced with fidelity the outcomes for all students improve; the HLPs are intended to provide those who work in schools with a clear vision of effective teaching (McLeskey, et al., 2017).
As a public school district, we are required by law to provide students with disabilities a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Further, a landmark decision on a recent Supreme Court case, Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District (2017), held that the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) “demands….an educational program be reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances” (p. 15) and further indicated that “…a substantive standard not focused on student progress would do little to remedy the pervasive and tragic academic stagnation that prompted Congress to act [when EAHCA was enacted in 1957]” (p.11). The supreme court went on to demand that every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives. This is a tall and important order for today’s educators, and upholding the intent behind IDEA requires all of us to look harder and dig deeper into our daily practice with each and every one of our students. Honing in on the 22 HLPs within the four key aspects of practice identified above is a great place to start that critical and ongoing work.
If you are looking for a resource that is applicable and important to your daily work, focused on instructional practices, research-based, broadly applicable and usable across content areas, and fundamental to effective teaching, look no further than the HLPs. To access a free electronic copy of the High-Leverage Practices in Special Education publication, click here. For additional HLP information and resources, check out the High-Leverage Practices Resource Page from IRIS and the High-Leverage Practices Resource Page from CEC for a vast array of books, webinars, videos, and other training materials.