Students with Unique Learning Profiles

Do Teachers Have Adequate Support?

by Tiffany Berglund, William R. Johnston

Full Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

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.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was conducted by RAND Education and Labor and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For this document, different permissions for re-use apply. Please refer to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation section on our permissions page.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.