Evidence-Based Practices for Students with Severe Disabilities

Participants will understand that students with severe developmental disabilities will also need some intensive, systematic instruction to learn priority content, which can be embedded in the milieu of a general education classroom. Participants will learn what to teach as well as how to teach through systematic instruction and best practices for supporting students with severe disabilities in order to improve their outcomes.

Through this CEM, participants will learn how to plan instruction to provide students with severe disabilities opportunities to learn academic content linked to state standards as well as the social, daily living, and job skills needed for life after high school.


This CEM is designed to provide opportunities for teachers and leaders to build the knowledge and capacity for educating students with severe disabilities. The module can be adapted and is flexible to accommodate the needs of faculty and professional development providers. The anchor presentation and speaker notes can be used in their entirety to cover multiple course or professional development sessions. Alternatively, specific content, activities, and handouts can be used individually to enhance existing course and/or professional development content.


After studying these materials, users will be able to:

  • Define access and learning in the general curriculum
  • Discuss Jackson, Ryndak, and Wehmeyer’s (2009) three components of inclusion
  • Write an objective that aligns to a Common Core State Standard for a student with a severe disability
  • Explain the need for balance between standards-based instruction and functional life skills
  • Identify the learning needs of students with severe disabilities
  • Identify, plan, and apply effective instructional strategies for students with severe disabilities
  • Describe the types and purposes of alternate assessment
  • Describe kinds of peer supports and assistive technology
  • Understand how to collect and use data to inform instruction

OSEP LogoThis website was produced under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Award No. H325A170003. David Guardino serves as the project officer. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or polices of the U.S. Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service, or enterprise mentioned in this website is intended or should be inferred.