Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Common Core Is Tough on Kids With Special Needs


In a recent discussion board thread on reading comprehension challenges in autism, a special-education teacher commented that her students can’t understand the assigned reading passages. “When I complained, I was told that I could add extra support, but not actually change the passages,” she wrote. “It is truly sad to see my students’ frustration.”
Why must this teacher’s students contend with passages that are too complex for them to understand? She attributes this inflexibility to the Common Core, new standards—created in 2009 by a group of education professionals, none of them K-12 classroom teachers or special-education experts—that have been adopted by 45 states. Though most Common Core goals are abstract and schematic, collectively they constitute a one-size fits-all approach that, in practice, has severely straightjacketed America’s special-needs students.
The teacher I quoted above—one of the many special-ed instructors I
teach at the Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania
education schools—is hardly alone. She’s echoing the concerns of dozens of other special-education teachers I’ve spoken with, most of whom have already gotten the message from their supervisors or superiors that they must adhere to the standards and give all their students the designated grade-level assignments."   common-core-is-tough-on-kids-with-special-needs

Application  to  Students  with  Disabilities

The Common Core State Standards articulate rigorous grade-level expectations in the areas
of mathematics and English language arts.. These standards identify the knowledge and skills
students need in order to be successful in college and careers Students with disabilities ―students
eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)- must be challenged to excel
within the general curriculum and be prepared for success in their post - school lives, including
college and/or careers.

These common standards provide an historic opportunity to improve access to rigorous academic
content standards for students with disabilities. The continued development of understanding about
research- based instructional practices and a focus on their effective implementation will help improve access to mathematics and English language arts (ELA) standards for all students, including those with disabilities.

Students with disabilities are a heterogeneous group with one common characteristic: the presence of
disabling conditions that significantly hinder their abilities to benefit from general education
(IDEA 34 CFR §300.39, 2004). Therefore, how these high standards are taught and assessed is of the
utmost importance in reaching this diverse group of students.

In order for students with disabilities to meet high academic standards and to fully demonstrate their
conceptual and procedural knowledge and skills in mathematics, reading, writing, speaking and listening (English language arts), their instruction must incorporate supports and accommodations, including:

• supports and related services designed to meet the unique needs of these students and to enable
  their access to the general education curriculum (IDEA 34 CFR §300.34, 2004).

•  An Individualized Education Program (IEP) 1 which includes annual goals aligned with and    chosen  to facilitate their attainment of grade-level academic standards.

• Teachers and specialized instructional support personnel who are prepared and qualified to deliver
  high-quality, evidence-based, individualized instruction and support services.
  Promoting a culture of high expectations for all students is a fundamental goal of the Common Core
  State Standards. In order to participate with success in the general curriculum, students with disabilities, as appropriate, may be provided additional supports and services, such as:

• Instructional supports for learning―based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)2 ―  which foster student engagement by presenting information in multiple ways and allowing for diverse  avenues of action and expression.
1 According to  IDEA,an IEP includes appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the individual achievement and functional performance of a child

2 UDL is defined as “a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that (a) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and (b) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains

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