Improving Outcomes for Students with Disabilities: Identifying Characteristics of Successful Districts

Melissa DeVries, M.Ed.
Oran Tkatchov, M.Ed.


The common characteristics among Arizona districts and charters with high academic outcomes for student disabilities were identified in a qualitative study involving site visits and interviews.  In 2014, the Arizona Department of Education examined over three years of state testing data to identify districts and charter schools that closed the academic achievement gap between students with disabilities and their non-disabled peers. These local education agencies (LEAs) had 30% higher proficiency rates for students with disabilities than the state average.  Six clearly identifiable systemic trends were detected to increase academic achievement for all students.  These LEAs were implementing systemic frameworks to improve schools not only for students with disabilities but for all children.  The good news is that these systems can be replicated at other sites to improve outcomes for all students and provide evidence that every student can succeed academically.

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