Cover: Students with Unique Learning Profiles

Students with Unique Learning Profiles

Do Teachers Have Adequate Support?

Published Apr 10, 2020

by Tiffany Berglund, William R. Johnston

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Research Question

  1. Do teachers of ULP students have sufficient access to leadership, school culture that promotes belonging, time to prepare and plan, materials and tools, staff with expertise, students' families, training and information, student records, and transition planning protocols?

Support from teachers is vital to the success of all students, but especially for students with unique learning profiles (ULPs). Therefore, the need to understand teacher support systems is particularly acute for teachers who work in schools with high rates of ULP students. Prior research has suggested that support from colleagues and experts, strong instructional leadership from principals, and positive school culture, as well as professional development and peer feedback, are key to these teachers' performance, job satisfaction, and career longevity. However, the nationwide prevalence of supports related to planning time and materials specifically geared to the needs of ULP students is much less clear, as is understanding of disparities in support access between teachers in schools with high versus low levels of student poverty. This Data Note uses data from the RAND Corporation's web-based American Educator Panel surveys to provide general insights into teachers' perceptions of the supports available for helping ULP students.

Key Findings

Teachers report good support — except for training, time to prepare

  • Most teachers who work with ULP students report having "mostly sufficient" or "completely sufficient" access to supportive school culture (84 percent), leadership support (74 percent), student records (74 percent), staff with specific expertise (67 percent), materials and tools (61 percent), and families of ULP students (60 percent).
  • Fewer teachers reported access to training and information (52 percent) or to time to prepare (48 percent).
  • Reported levels of support did not change based on school levels of poverty, school demographics, or school size.


  • More research is needed to understand potential disparities in teachers' access to support for ULP students.

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