The Journal of Special Education Apprenticeship


This research study examined curricular and instructional approaches that help students who receive special education services meet common Illinois state standards as measured by annual state standardized testing. Despite having supportive accommodations and modifications, Illinois students who receive special education services have lagged behind their general education peers in meeting academic standards as measured by annual Illinois state testing. Participants included personnel from schools that were identified as being high performing while also having the smallest discrepancy between students in general education and special education. These schools were investigated to determine what approaches they use to have this reduced achievement gap. Teachers and administrators from these schools were interviewed to gain insights regarding effective instructional and curricular methods. The results suggest that schools closing the achievement gap implemented instructional approaches including co-taught and inclusion classrooms, differentiation, and time for professional planning and collaboration. Additionally, these schools offered purchased, researched-based reading curricula that were implemented with high fidelity. Teachers in both special education and general education had the same materials to reference and offer students. Implications for practice and future research directions are reported.