MYTH: The majority of students with disabilities have a severe and debilitating disability that holds them back in school.

REALITY: The majority of students with disabilities actually have mild to moderate disabilities. This means most students with special needs can meet the same grade-level standards as their peers with the right support and guidance.

For example, students with speech impairments can analyze a book at the same level as their peers. They would just need more support when giving a verbal presentation. Similarly, a student with ADHD could succeed on the same math exam as their peers. They just might need a few breaks during the exam.

In fact, there are already several schools and districts that are showing what’s possible when you commit to getting a majority of students with special needs on grade level.

  • At Lafayette Elementary School, a school in San Francisco Unified that attracts deaf and hard-of-hearing students from across the city, students with disabilities outperform their peers elsewhere in the district and state. By third grade, most of the deaf and hard-of-hearing students at Lafayette are reading and doing math at grade level or beyond.
  • 86% of students with disabilities in Milpitas Unified graduate high school.
  • Piedmont City Unified School District also graduates the majority of their students with disabilities. In 2015-16, all 39 of their high school seniors with disabilities graduated within four years. Many were also eligible to attend a four-year university in California.

These schools use tools like Universal Design for Learning and tiered instruction to help students with disabilities receive the support they need to achieve at high levels. Our new Advocate’s Guide to Transforming Special Education showcases what these schools and districts are doing right to create an environment where students with disabilities can thrive.

Interested in learning more? Read it here!