Marshall Street Launches Resources to Improve Teaching and Learning for Students with Disabilities

Research-to-Impact Practices Showcase Strategies and Tools Developed by Educators and Content Experts to Support Historically Underserved Students

Nathan James

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — Marshall Street announced the publication of more than 20 evidence-based practices to improve learning experiences, environments, and outcomes for Black and Latinx students with disabilities experiencing poverty. The Research-to-Impact Practices were developed by the Networked Improvement Community for Students with Disabilities, a three-year collaboration supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to codify and spread promising practices for historically underserved students.

“Schools urgently need more effective strategies to serve students with disabilities that bridge the gap between academic research and the realities in their classrooms,” said Stephanie Lassalle, director of improvement programs at Marshall Street. “What makes the Research-to-Impact Practices unique is that they were developed and refined by educators and have demonstrated positive outcomes on a wide range of student achievement measures, as well as attendance and postsecondary transitions.”

Developed using the tools of continuous improvement — the science of getting better at getting better — the practices address system-level challenges that school and district leaders face in meeting the needs of students with disabilities. The practices are organized into five collections that summarize relevant research and provide step-by-step instructions, case studies from schools in the network, and templates and implementation tools for educators to use in their classrooms.

  • Turning the Page to Secondary Literacy: Tested practices for schools to identify gaps and implement interventions for secondary readers
  • Opening Doors to Collaboration: Interdisciplinary practices for building collaboration between general and special education teams
  • Navigating Data for Multi-Tiered Systems of Support: Equity-based practices for using data at the district, school, and classroom levels to accelerate student supports
  • Igniting Postsecondary Aspirations: Proven school-based practices to empower students to transition into meaningful college, career, and community postsecondary pathways
  • Anchoring Emotions: One school’s skill-based practices for supporting students with emotional-based disabilities

U.S. public schools serve more than 7 million students with disabilities, about 15% of the total student population. However, students with disabilities frequently face low expectations, barriers to rigorous courses, and insufficient support to graduate high school and pursue their dreams. For Black and Latinx students with disabilities experiencing poverty, the challenges are even greater. Yet research shows that 85-90% of students with disabilities can achieve at grade-level when they receive high-quality instruction and appropriate accommodations.

The Networked Improvement Community for Students with Disabilities was guided by a commitment to targeted universalism. While many researchers have individually studied the outcomes of students by race, socioeconomic class, and ability status, there is little applied research about how to effectively support students at the intersection. By developing interventions for students furthest from opportunity, schools can ultimately create a more equitable education experience for all students.

“In many cases, the challenges schools face in serving students with disabilities are similar, yet the contexts and communities in which they are doing so are diverse,” added Lassalle. “These collections offer authentic case studies and practical resources to guide schools in their efforts to improve programs and systems at scale to serve all students.”

The Networked Improvement Community for Students with Disabilities included 10 public charter school communities serving 75,000 students across the country: Collegiate Academies, Ednovate, Green Dot Public Schools California, KIPP Northern California, Mastery Schools, Noble Schools, STEM Preparatory Schools, STRIVE Prep (now Rocky Mountain Prep), Summit Public Schools, and Uncommon Schools. Schools received support from a group of technical assistance providers, including Blue Engine, NIRN, RTI International, Spark Educational Consulting, SRI International, and SWIFT Education Center.

Today, nearly all the school networks are continuing or expanding their work to implement these best practices. At Green Dot Public Schools California, which operates 18 middle and high schools in Southern California, educators set out to increase college, leadership, and life choices for their students with disabilities by focusing on increasing course passage rates and accelerating growth in literacy. Two schools participated in the network, implementing research-based reading interventions and expanding co-planning and co-teaching between general and special education teachers. From fall 2019 to spring 2023, both school sites nearly tripled the percentage of students with disabilities passing all classes with a C or better.

“Participating in this project has helped change the culture of our schools. We are adopting the mindset that to improve outcomes for students with disabilities, we have to engage general education teachers,” said Dr. Susana Campo-Contreras, senior director of special education and psychological services at Green Dot Public Schools California. “As a result, these practices are expanding to other campuses much faster than we expected.”

About Marshall Street

Marshall Street is a division of Summit Public Schools based in Redwood City, California. Marshall draws from more than 15 years of institutional knowledge and extensive experience in school improvement. Through our programs, we increase the capacity of our school partners to carry their work forward in the ways most meaningful to their communities. To learn more, visit:


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