This interesting paper reports on the special education efforts of the High Poverty Schools Initiative that studied the experiences of students in five Texas elementary schools that vary in their location, size, student demographics, and special education populations. Despite these variations, the study finds that these schools share many similarities in their strategies used to strengthen their students' academic performance and it finds each of these schools remarkably successful in this endeavor. This paper may be helpful to PIs in making a case for what "systemic" change may mean, at least as it is reflected in a school. The report is well organized, clearly written, and it provides an executive summary, a cross-site summary of the findings, and case studies of the profiled schools.
"The five schools in this study show that it is possible to meet and even surpass high standards while including students with disabilities in state assessments and in the state accountability system. They demonstrate forcefully that students with disabilities can be held to challenging academic standards. Despite their success, these five schools continue to work to improve student achievement and to ensure that students with disabilities are included in all activities. One parent of a student at Ogg [elementary school], in describing how the school continued to improve, explained, "...they're always learning....They're always looking for a better way.""