Introducing High-Leverage Practices in Special Education: A Professional Development Guide for School Leaders

Introducing High-Leverage Practices in Special Education: A Professional Development Guide for School Leaders was developed to assist school leaders in planning and implementing professional development about high-leverage practices to K–12 educators. High-leverage practices are frequently occurring, essential educational practices that all K–12 special educators should know how to do. These practices are evidence based, meaning that they reflect effective methods that when successfully implemented can improve results for struggling learners. They also are broadly applicable across content areas.

The twenty-two high-leverage practices—which were identified through consensus among special educators—are designed to serve as a road map for guiding teacher preparation, professional development, and/or current self-assessment. To make the practices more understandable and easier to use for these purposes, high-leverage practices are organized around four intertwined areas of practice: collaboration, assessment, social/emotional/behavioral and instruction.

The downloadable online guide provides school leaders, including administrators, principals, mentors and coaches, with practical tools for engaging their staff members in learning about how high-leverage practices in special education can enhance student learning in the school and district. In addition to the overview, which describes how the guide is organized, the guide is divided into three sections: “Getting to Know High-Leverage Practices,” “Sharing High-Leverage Practices,” and “Reflecting on High-Leverage Practices.”

Each section contains selected tools for conducting professional development. Some tools include enhanced activities and conversation starters that use publications and products available from the Council for Exceptional Children. In all cases, the tools in the guide have been designed to support professional development opportunities that introduce high-leverage practices; they are not designed to provide skill development in the practices or for planning school improvement initiatives. Further, there is no set way to use the materials; rather, school leaders are encouraged to use the materials as they see appropriate given the needs of their staff members.

Please note: In some tools, the forms have been created so that they can be completed digitally. To use this feature you must download the tool to your device. The professional development tools are produced in PDF form, so you will need to be using version 11 or higher of Adobe Acrobat Reader. Mac users need to open the files in Adobe Acrobat Reader, and not in Preview. Similarly, PC users need to open the files in Adobe Acrobat Reader, and not in Microsoft Edge. Acrobat Reader can be downloaded (free) from https://get.adobe.com/reader.

Introduction

The Council for Exceptional Children and the CEEDAR Center developed this professional development guide to support school district leaders in introducing and sharing the high-leverage practices with their staff members. This section contains a brief that introduces high-leverage practices in special education.

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Section 1: Getting to Know High-Leverage Practices

The purpose of this section is to provide an overview of high-leverage practices that can be used to build your knowledge and the knowledge of others. Briefs in this section include the following:

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Section 2: Sharing High-Leverage Practices

The purpose of this section is to provide professional develop­ment tools that can be used in both large- and small-group settings, to introduce high-leverage practices in special education.

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Section 3: Reflecting on High-Leverage Practices

The purpose of this section is to provide profession­al development tools that support reflection and conversation about possible next steps for high-leverage practices in your school or district setting.

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