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Supporting Students with Disabilities


The Common Core: Supporting Students with Disabilities—What Educators Need to Do

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

Meet the Needs of All

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were created to meet the needs of all students, regardless of ability or disability. To lay the foundation for all students to become college, career, and/or community ready, teachers will need to align academic goals in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) to the CCSS and create behavioral, communicative, functional, social/emotional, and transition goals that support the academic goals. IEP team will continue to provide adaptations and supports for each student, shaping them within the context of the new standards.

Face the Challenge

Teachers of students with disabilities face real challenges when building lesson plans. For students to realize success at grade level, teachers still must give them as much of the general education curriculum as possible. Collaboration with general education teachers is essential to helping students succeed. The good news is that teaching to the new standards will bring more in-depth instruction and more practical lessons applicable to life outside of school. One way to build a lesson plan based on the CCSS, regardless of a student's current level of achievement, is to look at the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as the instructional design, especially for a diverse range of learners. The principles of UDL involve

  • providing multiple means of representation—presenting information and content in different ways;
  • providing multiple means of action and expression—differentiating the way
  • students can express what they know and can do; and
  • providing multiple means of engagement—stimulating interest and motivation for learning.

Understanding the Assessments

Most students with disabilities will be taking the Smarter Balanced assessments. The current Smarter Balanced field test will help test designers refine the content and delivery of the assessments to students, including students with visual, auditory, linguistic, or physical needs. These summative assessments align directly to the new standards and will be accompanied by a Digital Library of Formative Tools and Practices, which will offer numerous helpful resources, including formative assessments. For a detailed account of California's assessments, visit the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) resources.

Engage Parents

When parents and family members understand—and are committed to—the CCSS, their child will have a better chance of succeeding in school. Be sure parents know that the CCSS mean that their child will learn subject matter in greater detail and depth. And engage parents in learning about the CCSS so that they have the opportunity to assist their children in truly understanding what is being taught.

Essential Resources

Learn the Common Core

What are the Common Core Standards?

Create CCSS-based IEPs

Common Core Resources for Special Education

Understand UDL

UDL Center External link opens in new window or tab.

Cast External link opens in new window or tab.

Align Lesson Plans

Better Lesson External link opens in new window or tab.

Know the New Assessments

Smarter Balanced

Smarter Balanced Assessment System

California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress

Learn About Accommodations

Accommodations for the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress System

Engage Parents

Common Core Resources for Special Education

Achieve the Core: Common Core Intro for Parents External link opens in new window or tab.

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