Research Plan

The introduction of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) by many states raised expectations for students with most significant cognitive disabilities (SCD). Next generation science standards include Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Cross-Cutting Concepts. Students with SCD are being taught and assessed in extended standards that also incorporate these 3 dimensions. We believe that students with SCD should receive high-quality instruction in academic content, and with support, students with SCD can learn science. However, there is a gap between next generation science instruction and how special education teachers were trained to teach science. In addition, very few resources are currently available for teachers to prepare for science instruction of students with SCD. The 5E-SESE system is designed to fill this gap.


The 5E-SESE system integrates a well-established science teaching model and UDL to make the science content accessible to all students.

We will address these issues by:

  • Incorporating three existing, highly successful learning approaches into the 5E-SESE model: multi-dimensional next generation science standards, the 5E model of instruction for inquiry-based learning, and the Universal Design for Learning Principles for accessibility in learning approaches into the 5E-SESE PD system.
  • Developing the 5E-SESE PD system, which will include 23 self-directed modules and virtual coaching for teachers who teach science to students with SCD. Coaches will support teachers in developing and implementing lesson plans based on extended next-generation science standards for students with SCD.

As we complete these four phases, will document all findings and share outcomes which impacted teacher learning. We will share the products from the 5E-SESE system online as well as at national conferences for educators and researchers. Products can be found on the Resources page.

5E-SESE’s ultimate goal is that the 5E-SESE PD system will change the way students with SCD are taught science and change teachers’ belief in their own abilities to teach science, as well as their students’ ability to learn.