Strategies and Programs That Reduce the Achievement Gap

This post is the sixth in a series based on a transcript from a recent Q&A with Dr. Alan Coulter as part of his webinar, “Prepare for Impact: 3 Key Questions About RDA for Every SPED Administrator.” Questions came directly from audience participants — special education directors, special educators and clinicians, and answers are from Dr. Coulter. Click here to see additional questions from the Q&A.

How can local directors identify quality strategies and programs that help reduce the achievement gap?

There are a number of technical assistance agencies that serve states and local school systems. Again, as you get involved in the RDA planning process, the state is going to identify a number of those evidenced-based practices, and you ought to be able to access those resources as well. The US Department of Education and the Institute for Education Sciences evaluate the effectiveness of a variety of innovations and products, but for the most part you want to build strong linkages with your state education agency with national and state associations like the Council for Exceptional Children, ASHA, the National Association of School Psychologists and so on. A number of those national and state associations also were heavily involved in identifying evidence-based practices to address particular needs. The thing that you want to do at the local level is to look so closely at your data that you come up with a very carefully constructed challenge or problem statement. That helps people much more carefully target what the evidence-based practice is that could be applied to the situation that you have identified.

Dr. Alan Coulter is an expert in special education accountability, and has worked at the federal, state, and local level on accountability issues for over twenty-five years. He has served on the President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education, and is currently the Director of Education Initiatives and an Associate Professor at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences and Human Development Center. Alan is also the director of the TIERS Group (Teams Intervening Early to Reach all Students). TIERS consults with state DOEs and district administrators on the quality and use of special education data. Alan is a key participant in the national discussion regarding Results Driven Accountability and focused monitoring.  His scholarly work and research is widely published in academic journals.