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Building Special Education Capacity Across Washington, D.C.

Leader Support • 3 min read • Sep 11, 2020 10:08:53 AM • Written by: Sarah Sandelius

This fall, ABC is working with the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to convene and facilitate a special education Community of Practice (COP) to address these urgent needs. Consistent with our process on all engagements, ABC is seeking community input and design support prior to officially launching this exciting opportunity. We’re asking D.C. public school educators and administrators, as well as anyone who works for an organization supporting D.C. educators, to complete this Remote Needs Assessment Survey to ensure that the topics chosen for the COP are highly relevant, timely, and engaging to a wide range of schools.  

Learn more about the COP and the work we’re doing in D.C. below. And thank you in advance for completing the survey! 

Washington, D.C., along with the rest of the country, may require years of discontinuous leaps in student achievement to recover from the learning losses caused by the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, as a community, we are continuously learning what works, where there are persistent challenges, and how educational systems, more generally, could benefit from this new lens on establishing learning environments to better meet the needs of students better.  Students with disabilities most acutely need their schools to make these discontinuous leaps. 

This fall, ABC is convening and facilitating the Special Education Community of Practice (COP) to address these urgent needs. In this COP, participating schools will collaboratively identify their most important challenges in delivering continuous education (D.C.’s approach to establishing continuity of learning across remote, hybrid, and in-person settings) for students with disabilities. This COP will help schools identify gaps, stabilize distance learning for students receiving special education services, and identify practices that can contribute to the discontinuous leaps that will be necessary to recover from COVID-19.

This presentation provides initial design principles that will guide the COPs work:



The COVID-19 health crisis has disrupted D.C.’s education sector with school building closures, parent hardships, staff and budget uncertainty, and the collective challenge of understanding how to move forward.  However, at ABC, we believe there is a tremendous opportunity to redesign our systems to best serve some of our most diverse learners, including students with disabilities.  In addition to the many challenges, there have been bright spots.  There are lessons to be shared about some students with disabilities who have thrived during continuous learning, as well as from schools that quickly transitioned to successful distance programs with ease and minimal disruption to the learning process.  As a partner to OSSE in its work, ABC’s COP will enable the city to recuperate from any learning loss that has occurred and emerge from this pandemic as a national leader in equitable continuous learning. 

Get in Touch and learn about the COP and the work we’re doing in D.C.

Sarah Sandelius