This thought-provoking session was moderated by Steve Drummond, Senior Editor at NPR. Joining him as panelists were Renee Hill (Assistant Superintendent at Riverside USD), Christina Barganza (VP at Achievement First), Ben Marcovitz (CEO at Collegiate Academies), and Tonika Cheek Clayton (Managing Partner at NewSchools Venture Fund). The session defines the most critical needs of students with disabilities and identifies areas where technology could be a catalyst for change.
The needs of special education students are wide and varied, and we need tech tools that are accessible to all students. The critical areas of need for students with disabilities, as identified by NewSchools, are: making rigorous academic content accessible to a wide range of students; encouraging increased communication and collaboration among diverse learners; supporting skills related to executive functioning and agency; using data to empower students, families, and educators. Technology can provide students with physical disabilities a way to more fully engage in the classroom (e.g. VocalID provides a literal, custom voice to those students who cannot speak).
Some key points from the discussion:
- More than 6.4M students have IEPs, and 35% of these students don’t graduate from HS
- Students of color are disproportionately represented in the special education population (e.g. 22% of Brownsville, TX is classified as requiring special education)