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Common Core standards and students with disabilities, part 2

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The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are an effort by states to define a common core of knowledge and skills that students should develop in K-12 education, regardless of the state they live in, so they will graduate high school prepared for college or careers.

The standards were released in 2010 and are divided into two categories: K-12 standards, which address expectations for elementary through high school and college and career readiness standards, which address what students are expected to know when they graduate from high school.

Why do we need common standards? In the past, states have individually decided what knowledge and skills are necessary for students by the time they graduate from high school. Having common standards across the United States will help ensure that students are receiving a high-quality education consistently, from school to school and state to state. For military families, common standards can be a way to increase consistency of schooling as they relocate to new duty stations.

Critics of the common core for students with disabilities believe that no flexibility for individual differences or learning styles exists. Teachers of students with special needs complain that seeing their students so frustrated at the rigidity of this system is difficult. Most of the Common Core goals collectively are one-size-fits all approach that have severely injured the students with special needs.
With the addition of Common Core, there is little, if any, room for accommodations, modifications or even acceleration for students with special needs. In the Common Core document there is a one plus page which addresses students with disabilities. It states that special needs students should have support services, individualized instruction and assistive technology they need for “the rigor and high expectations of the Common Core State Standards”. This document does not state what these services are or how they would work. As for curricular materials they may only be altered within the framework of this Common Core.

What happens then to the student population with significant cognitive disabilities such as general intellectual disabilities, language impairments, reading impairments, non-verbal learning disabilities or autistic spectrum disorders? Once again, do they become lost in the quagmire of standards which totally ignore their specific learning needs?

Since the inception of the Education of All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 (and all of its re-authorizations of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) the federal government has mandated to the states laws to accommodate all children in our public school system. With the Common Core State Standards it appears that this concept of recognizing individual learning differences has been lost for some of our students.

The Application to Students with Disabilities is available online at:



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