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“Imagine educational practices in which learners with significant disabilities have the same learner outcomes as students without disabilities”
        -Kleinert & Kearnes, 2001

“…educational decisions ought to be based on assumptions, which if incorrect will have the least dangerous effect…we should assume that poor performance is due to instructional inadequacy rather than to student deficits…”
        -Anne Donnellan Ph.D
         University of San Diego

The Bureau of Special Education (BSE) is committed to educating students with complex support needs.  This page is dedicated to the parents, teachers, and administrators committed to educational excellence and ensuring effective instructional practices and fair assessments for students with complex support needs. 

Penn Link-Commitment to Effective Instructional Practices and Assessment for Students with Complex Support Needs

This Penn Link outlines the BSE’s vision, commitment, research projects, and initiatives that support our students with complex support needs.  Each initiative outlined within the Penn Link and the accompanying resources are listed below. 

Penn Link - Committment to Examining Growth for Students with Complex Support Needs

Partnership in the National Center State Collaborative (NCSC) Research Grant

The NCSC is a federally funded grant lead by the National Center on Educational Outcomes, the National Center on Improvement of Educational Assessment, and the National Alternate Assessment Center with staff from the University of Kentucky and University of North Carolina-Charlotte.  The purpose of this grant is to develop a comprehensive assessment system that will include curriculum and instruction modules focused on learning progressions, professional development modules, and interim and summative assessments that will allow for a measure of growth. 

Online Survey

Standards Aligned System (SAS) Resources

The BSE, PaTTAN, and University of Kentucky through the National Alternate Assessment Center and Inclusive Large Scale Systems for Assessment collaborated with general and special educators in June 2010 to modify lesson plans from the SAS.  These modified lesson plans allow students communicating at the pre-symbolic, emerging symbolic, and symbolic levels to be actively engaged and learning in the general education classroom or through use of grade level, standards aligned curriculum.
http://websites.pdesas.org/speced/2010/12/1/ 147983/page.aspx

The Inclusive “Best Practices” Project

By clicking on the link below you will be directed to the Intermediate Unit 17 website.  This website is a collaborative effort among Seneca Highlands Intermediate Unit 9, Central Intermediate Unit 10, BlaST Intermediate Unit 17, the PaTTAN, and Lock Haven University Education Department.  A digital video case library has been constructed along with accompanying professional development resources that illustrates exemplary practices in inclusive instructional settings.

Membership, Participation and Learning

This training and technical assistance effort is designed to provide extensive training and on-going support over three years to identified schools resulting in effective implementation of inclusive educational practices for students with complex support needs. 

University of Minnesota-North Central Regional Resource Center (NCRRC) Research Grant

The NCRRC research grant focused on consequential validity of alternate assessment based on alternate achievement standards.  The grant included Pennsylvania and two additional states.  Teachers and administrators participated in web surveys, phone interviews and classroom observations. 


For additional information, please contact:

John Machella | Special Education Advisor
Pennsylvania Department of Education - Special Education
333 Market Street, 7th Fl | Harrisburg, PA 17126-0333
Phone: 814.536.1956 | Fax: 814.535.7050
jmachella@pa.gov | www.education.state.pa.us