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Emerging Practices with Promise

Submitted By: Natalie Bradley, South Bay Consortium for Adult Education

Specialist makes a difference in the lives of students with disabilities

The Challenge

A workgroup focused on adults with disabilities identified the needs of teachers and students involved in adult education in Santa Clara County. In addition to the teachers’ desire for more training to gain a better understanding about different types of disabilities, the workgroup identified the need for students to learn self-advocacy skills.

The Solution

To meet the need, in August 2016, the South Bay Consortium for Adult Education acquired the services of disability specialist Natalie Bradley to provide services to students with disabilities and their teachers in Santa Clara County school districts. The consortium developed a referral process for teachers to request individualized services for students. Bradley met with students to assess their strengths and learning challenges and also screened students for learning disabilities, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and other conditions that may affect learning. She incorporated a “strength-based” counseling technique to educate students on how to capitalize upon their strengths and understand their learning challenges. Once strengths and challenges were identified, Bradley developed a plan, and with the students’ permission, collaborated with the teacher to develop individualized teaching strategies.


Bradley and the techniques she shared with students and teachers made a difference in the lives of the students. One student, who scored “extremely high” on a test anxiety scale, was taught anxiety-reducing techniques by the specialist and her test anxiety scores were reduced to “moderate.” She passed the math portion of the Hi-SET exam. Another student, who had a learning disability in math, was having trouble comprehending a math word problem. The student was able to solve the problem when a multisensory approach was introduced into the instruction. Assistive technology software, websites and apps also are being incorporated into lessons. Upon learning how to use these resources, one student downloaded a free and interactive math app on her smartphone and immediately began to practice her multiplication tables with enthusiasm.

The Data

Feedback from instructors and students has been very positive. High school counselor Toni Thunen observed that “students are visibly moved” and “comforted in their new knowledge of strategies and the tools available to assist their moving forward in our programs.” From August 2016 through June 2017, a total of 74 students met with Bradley and achieved a variety of positive outcomes, including eligibility for HiSET (high school equivalency) test accommodations, successful transition to community college disability services, significant reduction of test anxiety and overall improved academic performance.

Supporting Information

South Bay Consortium for Adult Education- Adults with Disabilities

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