Blurring the Divide

Improving Special Education by Strengthening Core Instruction

Strengthening core instruction and blurring the often-sharp divide that exists between general education and special education can help better serve students with disabilities. Explore key tactics that include involving general education teachers in the special education process; providing instructional coaching to support general education teachers; providing rigorous grade-level content for all students; and modifying schedules so that intervention is not provided on a pull-out basis during core instruction. 

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Key Steps to Strengthen Core Instruction:


  • Shift general education teachers’ mindsets about supporting students with mild to moderate disabilities
  • Improve general education teachers’ understanding of, and involvement in, special education processes
  • Schedule students with mild to moderate disabilities to receive all core instruction
  • Ensure core instruction provides rigorous grade-level content for all students
  • Ensure targeted interventions are in addition to core instruction

About the Author


Mark Wiernusz

Managing Director, DMGroup

Having worked with over a hundred school districts of all sizes and types across the country, Mark Wiernusz brings a depth of knowledge and expertise to his work helping school district leaders tackle their biggest challenges and deliver lasting results for students, staff, and the community. As Managing Director at DMGroup, Mark leads consulting projects across several practice areas including strategic planning, strategic budgeting, human capital, and special education. In these projects, he works closely with district leadership teams to implement best practices and drive continuous improvement.

About The Author


Christopher Cleveland

Senior Consultant, DMGroup

Christopher Cleveland, senior consultant with DMGroup, collaborates with school districts on special education and resource allocation challenges. Christopher is a Ph.D. candidate in education policy and program evaluation at Harvard University from which he also holds an Ed.M. and A.B.