When considering standards and students with disabilities, it is imperative to remember that students with disabilities are students first. As such, students who receive special education and related services are also entitled to all of the supports and services that every other general education student receives. The goal of special education is to provide access for the student to the general curriculum, given the unique needs that arise from their disability. While the IEP process will determine the specific nature of supports needed by a given student, generally special education services should supplement the resources already provided through general education.
In reviewing the CCSS through the lens of special education, it is critical to first have an understanding of the CCSS from a general education perspective. With that in mind, ODE's Academic Content Standards page contains a wealth of information that should be reviewed.
Standards as a Progression
Recognizing that standards do not exist in isolation from one another is a central tenet of the problem solving process with which IEP teams are tasked. If the goal of an IEP is to provide access to the standards that all students are taught, those goals must be standards aligned. However, IEP goals are not standards. Rather, through the problem solving process, the IEP team must determine, based on the student's current Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance, what skills and strategies must the student learn in order to both:
- Provide supported access to grade level standards given their current functioning, and
- Build the foundation for future independent access of grade level standards.
Doing such work successfully requires an understanding of the way in which standards build upon one another. Following are some resources to help IEP teams build that understanding.
One of the benefits of the CCSS is that they are widely adopted standards. With that the case, other states are completing similar work in implementing the standards for students with disabilities. Some notable resources included in the work being done in this regard include:
ELA Specific Progressions
Math Specific Progressions
Curriculum Guide to the Alabama Course of Study
Available on the Alabama State Department of Education website, the Curriculum Guides for ELA and Mathematics were developed to provide "prerequisite and enabling skills that lead to learning grade-level academic standards. The curriculum guide can be used to assist students in learning content in smaller increments, catching up on content they may have missed in previous years, and/or reviewing content related to grade-level academic standards."