What Makes a High School a Good High School for Students with Disabilities

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Abstract

This article summarizes the findings and themes from the three high schools we studied. All three schools engaged in five schoolwide strategies for educating students with disabilities. They provided a broad array of academic courses and program options; provided schoolwide support structures that could be combined and customized to the needs and strengths of individual students; worked intentionally to connect students to the school and build their motivation to succeed; created a connected and caring adult community to serve students' academic and social/personal needs; and developed responsive leaders who managed the tensions inherent in the commitment to prepare students with disabilities to be successful in their lives beyond school. The article also reviews the different ways these three school instantiated these strategies. We describe the “theory of action” that integrates the five schoolwide strategies into a synergistic approach in each school and explore implications of the Good High Schools study for practice and for future research.

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