November 2020
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William & Mary
Training & Technical Assistance Center

Literacy Leadership at the IEP Meeting
By Cathy Buyrn, M.Ed.

Click image to go to the
By Susan Jones, M.S.Ed. and
Mary Murray Stowe, M.Ed.
Both general and special educators bring instructional expertise to the collaborative classroom. General educators are content experts while special educators are strategy experts. Together, they engage students and help them master necessary skills and content. To enhance and expand special educators’ repertoire of strategies, the CEEDAR Center at the University of Florida has identified 22 high-leverage practices (HLPs) that provide teachers with methods to reach students across four critical aspects of practice, including collaboration, assessment, social-emotional-behavioral learning, and instruction. HLPs highlight instructional practices that are “applicable and important to the everyday work of teachers…[and] to teacher education” (McLeskey et al., 2017). Relevant across the curriculum, HLPs are especially critical when developing and delivering reading instruction. Additionally, the HLPs are tools that general and special education teachers can use to build the skills necessary for students with disabilities to achieve the goals established by the Profile of a Virginia Graduate.

Follow these links to the HLP manual and videos:

When paired with evidence-based practices (EBPs), HLPs support teachers in planning effective lessons for all students. To that end, the CEEDAR Center has also compiled an extensive list of resources on EBPs, in the form of innovation configurations (ICs) across the curriculum.

While EBPs and HLPs are important across the curriculum, they are especially critical when developing reading instruction for students with disabilities and other students with reading difficulties. Innovation configurations specific to reading instruction may be found at the links below:

In this article, we highlight two HLPs that can be used across the curriculum and are especially critical in the area of reading:
  • HLP 16: Use explicit Instruction
  • HLP 22: Provide positive and constructive feedback to guide students’ learning and behavior
According to the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability, and Reform (CEEDAR Center) (McCleskey et al., 2017), teachers are explicit when they:
  • model thought processes and strategies to students
  • tell students how to approach learning tasks
  • provide examples and non-examples to help students comprehend concepts, avoid distractors, and focus on critical concept
  • use scaffolds and gradual release to make critical content accessible and foster student success and independence

When schools closed to in-person learning in the spring of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Ancora Publishing and Safe and Civil Schools worked with Anita Archer (2020a; 2020b) to adapt professional learning resources focused on explicit instruction to virtual classroom settings. In a two-part series, Anita Archer explains what explicit instruction is and how to implement the practice in virtual settings. An introductory video outlining the content covered in the webinars may be accessed at the link below:
To access the webinars directly, please visit T/TAC Online.
The supporting materials for the webinars are available in the YouTube descriptions of the videos. They include an explicit instruction lesson plan template, a teaching sequence for vocabulary and background knowledge, and low-tech online tools for virtual instruction.

Feedback is a powerful tool that supports learning outcomes for students. Positive and constructive feedback moves students forward in their learning and may provide the key to closing achievement gaps (Hattie & Timperley, 2007; Hattie & Yates, 2014). Feedback must be goal oriented and provided in a manner that strategically moves students to the successful accomplishment of their assigned tasks. When used effectively, the teacher and student ask questions and set goals so that feedback drives learning. Kennedy (2020) developed a checklist of considerations for teachers when providing feedback to students.
Is the feedback? (click here for reading example)
  • Goal-directed
  • Constructive
  • Immediate
  • Respectful and positive
  • Specific
  • Pre-planned and tied to academic or behavioral goals being pursued
  • Non-contingent
Challenging goals are more motivating than easy goals or merely urging students to do their “best” (Hattie & Yates, 2014). Students respond when they know where they are, have clear goals, and receive specific feedback that facilitates growth toward those goals. Feedback involves asking these questions:
  • Where is the student going?
  • What progress has the student made?
  • What are the next steps?

When setting goals, the teacher needs to understand the component parts of an assignment and be able to break it into those parts. The component parts or tasks should subsequently be further broken down into smaller steps or simpler segments (Vaughan et al., 2012).
The use of high-leverage practices increases students’ growth in skills and closes learning gaps. Educators who use explicit instruction and growth-building feedback are more successful in meeting students’ needs and improving learning outcomes. Students can meet high expectations when teachers use evidence-based instructional strategies. The high-leverage practices discussed within this article are the key to supporting student achievement.
Archer, A. (2020a). Explicit instruction online series: The magic is in the instruction [Webinar] Part 1. Randy Sprick's Safe and Civil School.
Archer. A. (2020b) Explicit instruction online series: The magic is in the instruction [Webinar] Part 2. Randy Sprick's Safe and Civil Schools.
Hattie J., & Timperley, H. (2007, March). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112. doi:10.3102/003465430298487
Hattie J., & Yates, G. (2014).  Using feedback to promote learning. Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing psychological science into the curriculum. American Psychological Association.
Kennedy, M. (2020, August 19). Workshop #3: High leverage practices in instruction. Council for Exceptional Children: Jumpstart Program for New Special Educators.           
McLeskey, J., Barringer, M-D., Billingsley, B., Brownell, M., Jackson, D., Kennedy, M., Lewis, T., Maheady, L., Rodriguez, J., Scheeler, M. C., Winn, J., & Ziegler, D. (2017, January). High-leverage practices in special education. Council for Exceptional Children & CEEDAR Center.
Vaughan, S., Wanzek, J., Murray, C. S., Roberts, G. (2012). Intensive interventions for students struggling in reading and mathematics: A practice guide. RMC Research Corporation, Center on Instruction.

Additional Resources

Videos Provided by Dr. Michael Kennedy (2020):

Other Content Examples: