Published by Innovate Public Schools.


The goal of this guide is to help parents and advocates understand what educational opportunity truly looks like for students with

disabilities*. It highlights what research and the highest-performing schools have found are the best practices to help students with disabilities achieve at high levels. Concrete examples,

interviews, and school profiles show what this looks like in action.

Disabilities vary widely and so do individual students’ strengths, needs, and challenges. No single guide could break down the full complexity of our current special education system. We believe that the people closest to the problem can usually find the best solution. Our goal is to share what works so that local advocates can map their own path forward to realize systemic change.


This guide is for people who want to transform our current special education system. There are many excellent resources to help parents navigate the current system for their own individual child. This is a different type of guide. This guide is meant to assist those fighting for systemic change for children with disabilities - at a school, district, or broader policy level. The following chapters are designed to help those advocates gain an understanding of the key practices in a successful special education system, and what it takes to move the system. There are bright spots across the nation - schools and communities that show what’s possible.

This guide points the way there.