Magazine article District Administration

What Does the Common Core Mean for Special Ed?

Magazine article District Administration

What Does the Common Core Mean for Special Ed?

Article excerpt

The Common Core is presenting a new challenge--and offering little guidance--to special education teachers working to keep their students on pace with their peers.

"We have a lot of kids who have not had the opportunity to learn standards in the past, and have a lot of gaps in instruction," says Debbie Taub, a Council for Exceptional Children member who has created a professional development program on teaching the Common Core to students with complex instructional needs. "But we're seeing that with well-thought out instruction, it's possible for these kids to make progress in the standards and build foundational skills at the same time."

The Common Core addresses students with disabilities in a 1 1/2-page document. It states that special-needs students must have support services, individualized instruction and assistive technology to "enable their access to the general education curriculum." However, it does not state what these services are or how they should be implemented. Changes in curriculum must "not change the standards, but allow students to learn within the framework of the Common Core," the document states.

It's up to states and districts to determine how to implement accommodations such as simplifying texts and deciding appropriate achievement levels for special-needs students, Taub says.

Approximately 6 percent of the U.S. student population has significant cognitive disabilities, including general intellectual disabilities, autistic spectrum disorders, and language and reading impairments that aren't helped by enlarged text or hearing aids, says Katharine Beals, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education who has written about the Common Core's impact on special education. …

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