The California Department of Education is redefining what a “high-needs student” is and combining its efforts to offer better educational programs for students with disabilities. Typically,  students considered to be high-needs were classified as low-income, foster children or English as a second language students. California ranks
among the lowest
of the states in its academic performance by students with disabilities, but a unified approach that measures benefits to all the aforementioned students may be a step in the right direction.

The Federal government is primarily interested in seeing that the new unified systems results in higher test scores for students with disabilities. It is reasonable that a quantitative metric like test scores would be part of the tracking for keeping school districts accountable and  students with high-needs should be able to perform at the level of their peers with proper support. However, considering that some people with disabilities
struggle to adapt to the workplace
after school, it is important the California school’s ensure a qualitative improvement to the lives of high-needs students as well. It would be amazing to see these students performing at the level of their peers academically, but special attention must also be given to helping theses students find their place in society at large.

The call for a more unified effort from California schools was spurred by the California State Board of Education aligning its
6-year plan
 with similar federal measurements for improving education for students with disabilities. The new system’s details are still being worked out, but it would be incredible to see California pioneer a truly integrated system that benefits the students who need assistance to perform at their capacity. These students deserve to be invested in and its exciting to watch policy makers, educators and families working towards a solution.

Man smiling.

Written by Evan DeVries, Social Media Assistant for TPI