Personalized Learning: Meeting the Needs of Students with Disabilities

Written by NCLD Public Policy & Advocacy team | 1 year ago

A Growing Movement

Now, more than ever, schools, districts and states are exploring and using personalized learning in classrooms all over the country. When schools and teachers personalize learning, students – including students with disabilities – receive a customized learning experience.

Students learn at their own pace with structure and support in challenging areas. Learning aligns with interests, needs and skills, and it takes place in an engaging environment where students gain a better understanding of their strengths.

Personalized Learning & Students with Disabilities

Seeing the exponential growth of personalized learning across the nation, NCLD set out to bring the voice of students with disabilities and their families into the discussion and determine how personalized learning systems can meet their needs. NCLD initiated a process to help educators, families, and policymakers understand these systems and to identify strategies for educators and leaders at all levels to better meet the needs of and appropriately include students with disabilities in personalized learning.

Over the course of a year, NCLD gathered top special education and personalized learning experts from across the country –  including educators, advocates, researchers, state and district leaders, school leaders, and parents of children with disabilities – and engaged them in discussions to learn and explore ways to ensure that personalized learning systems integrate and benefit students with disabilities. NCLD also conducted one-on-one expert interviews and participated in site visits to schools using personalized learning.

NCLD surveyed over 1,800 parents of students with disabilities and found that the majority of parents were not familiar with personalized learning, but nearly all of them wanted to learn more!

Finally, NCLD brought together nearly 50 experts, advocates, and advisors in Washington, D.C. to consider the recommendations, challenge assumptions, and explore best practices for meeting the needs of students with disabilities through personalized learning. From this research, collaboration, and discussion, NCLD produced a comprehensive set of policy and practice recommendations addressing families, educators, school leaders, district and state leaders, and policymakers, all of whom have a role in ensuring that students with disabilities succeed in school.

Resources  & Materials

Watch this video to see us presenting the findings from this research in partnership with The Alliance for Excellent Education and National Council of La Raza.

Use the links below to download NCLD’s full set of policy and practice recommendations and other materials developed for parents, educators, school and district leaders, and policymakers.


The Road Ahead

Through this work, NCLD aims to bridge the gap between knowledge and action so that educators are more prepared, parents are more informed, and policy makers are ready to design personalized learning systems that meet the needs of students with disabilities. This work is an important first step toward helping schools design personalized learning systems where students with disabilities are able to fully participate, learn, and thrive.

NCLD’s work on personalized learning and students with disabilities will continue. To see more of what we’ve done, you can see our Personalized Learning blog series. And be sure to follow our Policy & Advocacy blog, where we will continue to share our ongoing work in several states.