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Impact of Modifying Activity-Based Instructional Materials for Special Needs Students in Middle School Astronomy
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Middle school students who have special needs because they are learning disabled require targeted attention in our nation’s pursuit of improved science achievement for all students. In early 2006, the Lawrence Hall of Science conducted a national field test of a newly developed GEMS (Great Explorations in Math and Science) space science curriculum package for middle school students. During this field testing, we modified a subset of the curriculum materials to reflect the principles of best practices in working with special needs students, specifically learning disabled students, in a subset of the field test classrooms to determine if these students scored differently on the assessments than students in the larger assessment database. Results suggest that many students, not just those with special needs, demonstrate achievement gains using instructional materials purposefully aligned with research-informed principles of best practices for special needs students.
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