“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

…and change we shall. The adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will change the way we plan instruction, utilize curricular resources, assess students, and develop Individual Education Plans (IEPs). Below is an update/overview of the current status of the EGUSD CCSS implementation for students with disabilities.

Students with special needs receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) when IEP teams determine supports and services based on assessment data that clearly indicates present levels of performance (PLOP), identifies individual needs, and allows for the crafting of standards-based goals and objectives. This process is the basis of educational benefit and reasonably calculated IEPs.
Educational Benefit and the IEP

Educational Benefit and the IEP Chart

It is for the reasons listed above that the EGUSD Special Education Department is keeping a close eye on the ways in which the Common Core State Standards are changing the academic, communication, behavioral, and executive functioning skill expections for ALL students, but more specifically, “under-represented” students and, as a subgroup, students with disabilities. An EGUSD  team consisting of an EL coach, a special education coach, and a special education administrator recently attended a Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)-sponsored workshop entitled, “Assessment Support for Under-Represented Students”. SBAC is developing the CCSS computer administered and computer adaptive assessment for general education students and students with disabilities who are able to access grade level standards with accommodations. The expected rollout is scheduled for the 2014-2015 school year. It is important to note that the CCSS are based on the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and SBAC is consistently referring back to UDL principles (as it relates to planning instruction and assessments) in the design of testing accommodations for ALL students, not just English Learners and students with disabilities. To view examples of SBAC sample test items, click here.

The National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) is the consortium charged with developing the CCSS assessment, curriculum, and professional development for students with moderate/severe disabilities (about 1% of students) also scheduled for rollout in the 2014-2015 school year.  California is an Advisory State that provides input to NCSC on the development and design of these three components by way of “Communities of Practice”. The Northern Region Community of Practice held their first Face-to-Face meeting in February and will be meeting monthly for the next two years via conference calls and webinars. EGUSD is represented by an Inclusive Education Specialist, a Supported Living Skills Teacher, and special education administrator. Look for more information on this blog site in the near future regarding Learning Progressions, Prioritized Standards, Core Content Connectors, Progress Indicators, and (of course!) UDL.

One of the most oft-asked questions by special education teachers regarding CCSS is, “Will we have goal examples written from which we can choose based on the CCSS?” The short answer is “yes” and the California Department of Education (CDE) team responsible for creating them is sending the first draft to the State Board of Education (SBE) for initial review. Currently, special education teachers and specialists use standards-based goals developed by the California Association for Resource Specialists (CARS)/Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) which are posted on our Special Education Information System (SEIS).   We hear that they will look a bit different from the current goals/objectives which were based on previous “essential” California State Standards and promise to keep you posted!

At this time, EGUSD special education teachers and specialists are taking part in the excellent CCSS workshops provided by our Curriculum and Professional Learning (CPL) department. For the 2013-2014 school year, be on the look out for an aligned, cohesive, and collaborative CCSS professional learning plan for teachers, paraeducators, and administrators as the they relate to students with special needs at all grade levels and programs.

Special thanks to Anne Zeman (Director of Curriculum and Professional Learning), Jerrilyn Ewing (Director of Instructional Support), Debra Herburger (Special Education Instructional Coach) , Cindy Sasaki (Inclusive Ed Specialist), Erin Howard (SLS Teacher), Mark Freathy (Math Curriculum Specialist), LaRae Blomquist (ELA Curriculum Specialist), Jennifer Finney-Ellison (EL Coach), Kathy Blackburn (EL Coach), and Christina McColley (EL Coach) for their collaborative efforts regarding students with differing needs.

Please subscribe to the following EGUSD blogs related to CCSS and EL Support:
CCSS: http://blogs.egusd.net/ccss/
EL Support: http://blogs.egusd.net/win/

Louie Schwartzberg TEDTalk: Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.