Author: Laura Vaughn

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A year ago, I wrote about a project designed to show what special education teachers should know and be able to do. The Council for Exceptional Children and the federally-supported Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform, also known as CEEDAR, came up with 22 “high-leverage practices” spread across four domains that should be mastered by newly-minted special education teachers.

Now, the same organizations have created videos showing some of those practices in action.

Developing high-leverage practices (HLPs) to codify practices of effective special educators has been a top priority of CEC and the CEEDAR (Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform) Center during the past few years.

To support the CEC-CEEDAR Center HLPs initiative, the March-April 2018 issue of the CEC TEACHING Exceptional Children (TEC) journal focused on “Putting High-Leverage Practices Into Practice.”

“The aim of the HLPs initiative was not simply to create a list of practices but to inform, shape, and begin a dialogue about effective special educator development,” TEC Editor Kristin Sayeski wrote in her editorial in TEC. “For this special issue, we identified nine recently published articles that reflect and embody specific HLPs. The articles align with the four core areas of collaboration, assessment, social-emotional-behavioral practices, and instruction.”

CEC Director of Policy and Advocacy Deborah Ziegler added, “The profession has established a new baseline for what every teacher must know and be able to do. This baseline provides teacher preparation programs with an avenue toward reform by identifying practices to target in the preparation of teacher candidates and practicing teachers with a tool for self-reflection and professional development.”

HLPs are also highlighted and explained in the book, “High-Leverage Practices in Special Education,” which CEC and the CEEDAR Center co-published in 2017. It is authored by the HLPs Writing Team, a collaborative effort of CEC, its Teacher Education Division, and the CEEDAR Center. Writing Team members include practitioners, scholars, researchers, teacher preparation faculty, and education advocates.

Education Week – On Special Education

A newly-minted special education teacher should be able to:

  • “collaborate with professionals to increase student success,”
  • “use multiple sources of information” to understand a student’s strengths and needs, and
  • “systematically design instruction toward specific learning goals.”

These skills are among 22 “high-leverage practices” for special education teachers that were developed by the Council for Exceptional Children and the federally-supported Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform, also known as CEEDAR.



For immediate release
Contact: Annie Baldauf, 703-264-9435,
Arlington, Virginia, June 23, 2017 – The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Center for Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform (CEEDAR) announce the creation and release of a set of high-leverage practices (HLPs) for special educators and teacher candidates. HLPs are educational practices that all special educators must master before they begin teaching. The selected practices―in the areas of collaboration, assessment, social/emotional/behavioral, and instruction―are used frequently in classrooms and have been shown to improve student outcomes. “This is really going to reform how teacher candidates are prepared,” says CEC President Mikki Garcia.


Teacher preparation programs recently have struggled to keep up with increased demands for instructional content, an evolving understanding of the complexity of why learners struggle, and new research surrounding evidence-based practices. CEEDAR Director Mary Brownell explains that, in light of these changes, teacher preparation programs needed guidance regarding which practices are most effective. “Programs have only so much time to educate new teachers,” she says. “As a profession, we needed to establish a baseline for what every teacher must know and be able to do.”


There is general agreement in the field of special education that teacher preparation should focus more explicitly on instructional practice, Brownell says. “Colleges and state departments of education know they need to reform how they prepare and license teachers. We need to be sure we have capable teachers in every classroom who have had consistent and adequate training and practice.” She also noted the relevance of the HLPs for general education teachers as well as special educators. “We hope the HLPs can help to reform practice in general education in ways that will better prepare general education teachers for their work in inclusive classrooms or as co-teachers.”


The HLP writing team that identified and distilled the list of practices included special education practitioners, scholars, preparation faculty, and advocates who were appointed for their knowledge and expertise around both the reform of teacher preparation and the evidence base behind the practices in question. “These are the best thinkers in our membership,” says Garcia.


CEC and CEEDAR plan to disseminate the HLPs widely, sharing them with CEC members, institutes of higher education, state departments of education, certification and licensure bodies, state governors, members of Congress, and associations and organizations.


The CEC publication “High-Leverage Practices in Special Education” was released in April 2017 and is available for sale through the CEC Catalog. Continue to follow updates and developments on


Learn more about the Council for Exceptional Children at