3 ways to support students with disabilities post-pandemic

These strategies can help educators as they address the needs of students with disabilities after a year of learning during a pandemic

Students with disabilities tend to show greater learning losses over the summer, and at times grow at academically higher rates than peers without disabilities, according to a new study showing detailed insight on academic growth among students with disabilities.

The new research, Understanding differential growth during school years and summers for students in special education, comes from NWEA, a nonprofit research-based provider of assessment solutions and learning services.

Using a five-year cohort of 4,228 students (kindergarten through fourth grade) in 109 U.S. public schools that voluntarily provided student-level special education program information, the research study examined how academic achievement and growth in achievement compared between students with and without disabilities. (Disability category was not available at the student-level. The study used “ever being in special education services” as a proxy for students with a disability.)

“To the best of our knowledge, no study has examined within-year growth (fall to spring) and summer learning for students with disabilities, and how these differences in learning during the school year versus summer may shape disparities for students with and without disabilities,” said Elizabeth Barker, research scientist at NWEA, “We wanted to challenge former research that only looked at one snapshot in time and see what trends in learning we can note and provide a better picture of the learning patterns of students with disabilities.”

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