Education Opinion

Equitable Access to Deeper Learning: A Focus on Students With Disabilities

By Contributing Blogger — August 12, 2015 2 min read

This post is by Rafael Heller, Principal Policy Analyst, Jobs for the Future.

As the deeper learning movement expands, how will we ensure that it also includes?

Over the coming years, will we find ways to provide all children with meaningful opportunities to develop the full range of intellectual, inter-personal, and intra-personal capacities that we know to be critical to success in college, careers, and civic life (i.e., the “success skills,” to use David Conley’s shorthand)? Or will we look back in a couple of decades to find that while instruction has become a bit more vibrant and student-centered in the most affluent school districts, the “pedagogy of poverty” remains as widespread and as durable as ever?

Advocates for deeper learning have no official by-laws or charter affirming their commitment to equity. But concerns about equity have been central to the conversation thus far, and they will likely continue to play a central role in the movement as it goes forward. (Consider, for example, Carlos Moreno and Andrew Frishman’s recent announcement that Big Picture Learning, the Internationals Network, and the Hewlett Foundation have launched a Deeper Learning Equity Fellows project, meant to cultivate a new generation of school leaders committed to this mission.)

To provoke further discussion, and to help ground it in the best available research, Jobs for the Future has commissioned a trio of reports on equity and deeper learning. Two of them--one focusing on equitable access to resources for deeper learning, and the second focusing on deeper learning’s implications for English language learners and immigrant students--will be released in the next few weeks. Another, Deeper Learning for Students with Disabilities is now available on our Web site.

Authored by Sharon Vaughn, director of the Meadows Center at the University of Texas, and Louis Danielson, Rebecca Zumeta, and Lynn Holdheide of the American Institutes for Research, the report notes that of the more than 6 million students with disabilities enrolled in the nation’s elementary and secondary schools (13 percent of all students), the majority spend most of the school day in general education classes. And if those students--no small number--are to enjoy the full benefits of deeper learning, then general education teachers will need to know how to support them.

Fortunately, the paper goes on to argue, a number of specific, research-based instructional practices have been shown to be quite effective in helping students with various kinds of disabilities to learn deeply. And, just as important, they include teaching strategies that do not require highly specialized training--every general education teacher should be able to master a handful of key techniques and principles that can go a long way toward providing the support that most students need. Moreover, the paper points out, if the deeper learning movement is serious about providing meaningful instruction in self-regulation, cognitive processing, goal-setting, and other intra-personal skills, then it ought to look to the research in special education, which has a wealth of relevant expertise that can inform instruction for all children.

The opinions expressed in Learning Deeply are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Let us know what you think!

We’re looking for feedback on our new site to make sure we continue to provide you the best experience.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Future of Work Webinar
Digital Literacy Strategies to Promote Equity
Our new world has only increased our students’ dependence on technology. This makes digital literacy no longer a “nice to have” but a “need to have.” How do we ensure that every student can navigate
Content provided by Learning.com
Mathematics Online Summit Teaching Math in a Pandemic
Attend this online summit to ask questions about how COVID-19 has affected achievement, instruction, assessment, and engagement in math.
School & District Management Webinar Examining the Evidence: Catching Kids Up at a Distance
As districts, schools, and families navigate a new normal following the abrupt end of in-person schooling this spring, students’ learning opportunities vary enormously across the nation. Access to devices and broadband internet and a secure

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Data Analyst
New York, NY, US
New Visions for Public Schools
Project Manager
United States
K12 Inc.
High School Permanent Substitute Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District
MS STEM Teacher
Woolwich Township, NJ, US
Kingsway Regional School District

Read Next

Education Obituary In Memory of Michele Molnar, EdWeek Market Brief Writer and Editor
EdWeek Market Brief Associate Editor Michele Molnar, who was instrumental in launching the publication, succumbed to cancer.
5 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: December 9, 2020
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of articles from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated Briefly Stated: Stories You May Have Missed
A collection of stories from the previous week that you may have missed.
8 min read