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School Administrators and Common Core


School Administrators and the Common Core: Supporting Students with Disabilities

The following content originally appeared in The Special EDge newsletter, Volume 27, Number 2; Winter – Spring 2014

Implementing Common Core

Implementing the California Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for students with disabilities requires changes in organization and attitude to traditional mindsets in teaching as well as in curriculum and instruction. "Ten Steps for Migrating Your Curriculum to the Common Core" explores key questions you'll want to ask when making these changes, such as:

  • What methods or approaches can best address the challenges of stepping up to more rigorous standards?
  • Where the standards describe new skills and content for students to learn (and teachers to teach), will funds be allocated for new curriculum and materials?
  • What kinds of professional development will teachers need, especially when it comes to helping them lead students to the higher-order thinking and independence the Common Core standards demand?
  • Who will pay for the training, and how will time be carved out for educators to participate in it?

Professional Development

Professional development related to the CCSS should include both general and special education teachers.

Involving Parents

Students succeed when their parents and family members support and assist them in their learning. The California Department of Education website features resources to help administrators directly engage parents in appropriate aspects of the new standards: Common Core Resources for Special Education (select the "Parents and Students" tab). Achieve the Core External link opens in new window or tab. provides additional resources to share with parents.

Aligning Individualized Education Programs to the CCSS

Academic goals in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) will need to align to the CCSS; and behavioral, communicative, functional, social/emotional, and transition goals should support academic goals. To meet the needs of all learners and to address the rigor and challenges of the CCSS, IEP teams should thoughtfully consider the tasks required by each standard and provide adaptations and support for each student. For information on aligning the IEP to the CCSS, see Common Core Resources for Special Education.

Aligning Systems and Processes

A multitiered system of supports (MTSS) coordinates interventions, supports, and opportunities to improve access and achievement for all students. Grounded in quality general education instruction, MTSS is designed to help students with disabilities succeed in the least restrictive environment.

While the CCSS articulates the "what" in teaching, MTSS provides a framework for "how" and "when" to provide it. The professional development resources will guide you and your staff in developing an MTSS.

Getting Ready for the Assessment Systems

As the CCSS are introduced and taught, the majority of students in California, including most students with IEPs, will take Smarter Balanced assessments. These summative assessments were created to align directly to the CCSS standards and will be accompanied by a Digital Library of Formative Tools and Practices. The library will offer numerous educational tools and resources, including formative assessments.

Also see Common Core Resources for Special Education (select the "General Education" tab). For a detailed account of the accommodations available in the assessments, review the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System Accessibility Resources.

Questions:   Special Education Division | Focused Monitoring Technical Assistance Consultant
Last Reviewed: Wednesday, September 15, 2021
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