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New NCLD Helps Teachers Unlock the Power of Students Who Learn Differently

One in 5 students in the United States have learning and attention issues. This includes those with identified specific learning disabilities, diagnosed attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, or related disorders that impact learning. Despite often having above average or average intelligence, the majority of these students are achieving below grade level. This equates to millions of students across the nation whose strengths and potential are going untapped.

The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) and Understood set out to unpack and address this problem. We partnered with teachers—often the most consistent touchpoint for students after their caregivers—to understand their experiences and insights. We rooted these experiences in rigorous research focused on general education classrooms, where the majority of the “1 in 5” spend most of their time. The culmination of this work is found in “Forward Together,” a new report from Understood and the NCLD.

AACTE is joining several other education organizations to develop Forward Together Toolkits for our teachers and teacher educators. Stay tuned for more information on the dissemination of those toolkits!

Key findings from the report include the following:

  • General education teachers don’t feel prepared: Only 17% of general educators feel “very prepared” to teach the 1 in 5 and only 30% feel they can be successful when they try their very best.
  • General education teachers vary in their expectations: Only 50% of general educators believe that these students can reach grade level standards.
  • General education teachers desperately want to be successful with and support these kids but don’t yet get the support to do so before and while in the classroom: One-third of educators who say they’ve never received any professional development (PD) on how to do so and those that have said the PD was not effective or intentional. Most say what they’ve learned has been through trial and error and on the job learning. The majority of states set a very low bar in the requirements for certification in what teachers need to know and show they are able to do with the 1 in 5 students.
  • General education teachers want to better serve the 1 in 5.  But they need support to get there.
  • We know what works for the 1 in 5—and for all kids. There are three critical mindsets and eight key strategies educators can use to positively impact outcomes for students.

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