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Special Education/Service delliverey models for students with high incidence disabities


Hello Norm,
I am a special education teacher who has worked in this field for 20+ years primarily with secondary students in a "resource" setting.  I am passionate about supporting a service delivery model that works for remediation of skills AND support for general education classes and credit accrual.  I believe both of these needs are valid and should not be competing.  I am working with a team of high school teachers who are required to provide SDI in Writing, Reading and Math the entire period.   All students are given 35 minutes of math each day and 35 minutes of reading and writing.  There is no time set aside to work on coursework from other classes, causing a dismal amount of failure in general education classes.  When I was in the classroom (I am a consultant now) I had a model that blended skill development in areas such as RE, WR, MA, and classwork support, transition and social support.  Iím looking for research that supports a combination of direct instruction on academic skills as well as other types of support.  Do you have any suggestions of studies or authors I could research?
Thank You,
Vikki Mahaffy

This is an interesting problem that you are facing here.  I am assuming that the 35 minutes of reading and writng and 35 minutes of reading comes from a split 70 minute period.  First, when we look at students who are in the 9th through the 12th grade and in need of resource room help they can be a low functioning as 3rd grade level, which means they don't have the skills to compete in a regular class, and won't ever make up much of the deficit if you teach remediation only 35 minutes per day.  I did a literature review not long ago trying to find out if group size made a difference in remediating skills.  Turns out that it does, groups of 1 to 5 are most effective and sizes decrease as age goes up.  I am certain that your instructional groups are not that low, so I can say off the top of my head that I would predict that little progress is made in your current model and students fail most academic general ed courses, which means not one of your IEP's is appropriate.

Given that, what can you do that would be more effective.  A combined model where you supported general education classes and did some skill will help with grades in general classes but will further slow any skill growth, so I don't see that working much better in terms of the students abilities.  

I will get to some research in a minute, but you should consider a model that will allow students to compete in the general education class, and continue to have opportunity to develop their skills.  I like to have different levels of service, one that supports general education with accommodations and some support (text to speech readers for kids who can't read well, etc. and either a well trained aide in the classroom or support class); the next level is pull out or push in for the skills that are deficit; the final level takes kids out of most general ed classes and focuses on transition and skills.  I also am intrigued with a good Collaborative team model, where a special ed teacher pushes in to co-teach with the content teacher, then has another block of time to re-teach, pre-teach and build other words 2 blocks for math, two blocks for english...then a regular schedule with some accommodations or supports.  The classes have to be selective, or "clustered."  

I am just about finished with my doctoral dissertation where we did the collaborative team model in a district with 18 schools, 2 of them high schools.  One of the high schools had already started some co-teaching, but in both schools we got 23% more students passing the state wide testing in reading and math as a result of the model change.  I am waiting for this year's testing for full implementation, but I expect even better this year.

Here are some of the better references and you could even pursue any of the five authors for further research, if need be.  

Friend, M. (2005). Successful co-teaching strategies: Increasing the
   effectiveness of your inclusive program (Grades 1-12). Bureau of
   Education and Research. Bellevue, WA.

Dieker, L. (2006). Successful strategies for middle and high school
  Inclusion. University of Central Florida

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. (2001). Classroom
   instruction that works: Research based strategies for increasing
   student achievement. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
   and Curriculum Development.

Ward, H., & Anderson, T. (2006). How to differentiate instruction in
   the co-taught classroom. Student Achievement in the Least  
   Restrictive Environment (SA/LRE) Project. Georgia Department of

Thompson, M. Learning Focused Schools.

Wiggins, G. P., & McTight, J. (2005). Understanding by Design (2nd
   Edition) Association for Supervision and Curriculum.

Marilyn Friend is the guru of co-teaching models right now.  You also search ERIC using the terms "secondary teaching, study skills," or "secondary special education teaching models," or "co-teaching in secondary schools."

If you have follow up questions, feel free to submit.  

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Dr. Norm Bishop


I have spent nealy 40 years in the area of Special Education. I have had the pleasure of teaching pre-school, elementary, middle, high school and college levels, as well as, served in school district administration buildings in classroom/legal support positions. I have also spent some time working in a State Department of Education Exceptional Student Services Office and am now currently Division Head and Director of Institutional Research at Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky. I also teach special education classes on campus. I have also taught full time teacher preparation at Northern Arizona University on the Tucson Campus, Seattle Pacific University, and at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. In addition to that I have taught adjunct at Seattle Pacific University, City University in Seattle, Ashford University, and Grand Canyon University.


I have experienced directly special education legal issues, process and procedure, and have taught at all levels in every special education category except gifted. My major expertise is diagnostic prescriptive teaching, literacy as it relates to disabilities, technology in special education, and Educational Leadership. My greatest passion in the field is building new programs, implementing and doing the research to see how they work. My Dissertation and principle research interest is in the area of inclusive education, primarily co-teaching of students with disabilities in the general education classroom.

Council for Exceptional Children, Association for the Supervision of Curriculum, National Reading Council.

Teaching Exceptional Children, Published computer assisted instruction, titled PAL, Special Education Basics, college Textbook, Teaching with Precision, college Textbook, Various devotionals at the website,

I have a B.A. in Secondary Education, a Masters in Special Education (cross categorical), administrative certification, and a second B.A. in Elementary Education. I completed my doctorate in Educational Leadership at Northern Arizona University.

Awards and Honors
Best Summer Program in the Nation (Honorable Mention, when I was Teaching) Multiple local awards

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