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CalSTAT Technical Assistance and Training

IDEAS that Work!California Department of Education, Special Education Division’s special project, California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT) is funded through a contract with the Napa County Office of Education. CalSTAT is partially funded from federal funds, State Grants #H027A080116A. Additional federal funds are provided from a federal competitively awarded State Personnel Development Grant to California (#H323A070011) provided from the U.S. Department of Education Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education act (IDEA). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U. S. Department of Education.

The Special EDge


Winter – Spring 2014 Volume 27, Number 2


The Common Core: 10 Things Parents Need to Know to Support Their Children with Disabilities

What the New Standards Are

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) describe what all students are expected to learn in each grade (kindergarten through grade twelve). Forty-five states have adopted these standards. This creates consistency in instruction, which makes it easier for students to move to different states and still do well in school. Academic standards are not new in California. The CCSS simply improve the previous standards. They focus on the skills students need to succeed as life-long learners in the twenty-first century workplace.

The Goal of the CCSS

The goal of the CCSS is to make sure that all students are prepared for college, technical education, or the workplace as well as for independent living and a quality life after high school.

Where to Find the Standards

All of the CCSS are at Here you'll also find helpful resources.

The Role of the Standards in an IEP Team Meeting

Academic goals in an Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be aligned to grade-level standards. This ensures that students with disabilities receive grade-level curriculum and instruction. When you know about the standards, you can better advocate for your child. You
are in a better position to know whether teachers are holding your child to the same high level of expectations that they maintain for general education students. Knowing about the standards also makes it easier for you to ask questions about where your child's learning will occur—his or her "placement."

Which IEP Goals Will Be Aligned to CCSS

Functional goals do not have to be aligned to a CCSS. These goals focus on behavior, social-emotional challenges, and functional skills. They are still an important part of an IEP, and they support academic access and achievement. But only academic goals must be aligned to the CCSS. 

Questions to Ask an IEP Team

How the Standards Will Affect a Child Who Is Below Grade Level in a Subject

Even if your child is performing below or even far below grade level, he or she should still be learning grade-level content. Your child should receive instruction that includes accommodations, modifications, assistive technology, and supports that allow him or her to participate with peers and make it possible to close the learning gap.

How the New Assessments Will Align with the CCSS

There will be new assessments for the new standards. An IEP must include all appropriate accommodations for both classroom learning and for these assessments. This way, a child will use the accommodations in his or her daily academic program and be prepared to use the accommodations in testing. The CDE Web site offers a list of approved accommodations; go to For a more detailed exploration of accommodations, you'll want to go to loads/2013/09/SmarterBal anced_Guidelines_091113.pdf. While these lists include the most common accommodations, they do not include all of the possible accommodations that a student may need. Any accommodation that a student legitimately needs must be included in his or her IEP.

What Happens When a Student Is Not Familiar with Technology

All students must be given a chance to practice and get used to the technology they will be using when they are tested. If your child needs practice, you can address this need in an IEP meeting. Skill in using technology is an important part of your child's academic program, and developing that skill can be an important goal.

What the New Standards Mean for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

Each student with significant cognitive disabilities should be taught and tested in ways that align to CCSS grade-level standards, even if the student does not receive instruction in a general education classroom. The curriculum for these students may be significantly modified, but it still must be aligned to grade-level standards.

Parents will find additional resources and supports at under the "Parents and Students" tab.

The Common Core: 10 Things Students with Disabilities Need to Know

Who the Common Core Is For

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are for all students in kindergarten through twelfth grade in public education, which includes students with disabilities.

What the California Common Core State Standards Are and Why We Have Them

The CCSS are the guidelines that all teachers and schools will follow to make sure you are taught what you need to know in each grade. All students who attend public schools are supposed to be taught their grade-level standards. Learning the standards will help you prepare for college, jobs, and life.

Where You Can See the Standards

You can find all of the CCSS at At this Web site, you can select your grade level to see what you should be learning. This site also has many resources to help you learn about and understand the standards.

How the New Standards Are Important in Your Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Knowing what you are supposed to be learning in each grade can make it easier for you to ask questions about how you are
meeting your goals, where your learning will happen, and what
kind of extra help you might need.

How IEP Goals Should Be Based on the New Standards

Your IEP has goals that focus on your special learning needs. Each of the academic goals should be based on a Common Core grade-level standard.

You also may have goals in your IEP that are not academic goals. These might be goals that
address how you deal with and express your feelings. Nonacademic goals are an important part of your IEP. They support your ability to learn in school. But only academic goals—such those for English and math—need to align to a CCSS.

How to Advocate for Yourself in a Class Where a Teacher Has Not Seen Your IEP

It is always OK—and sometimes very important—to tell your teachers that you have a disability. You also want to tell your teachers that your IEP lists the accommodations, modifications, or assistive technology you need in order to be successful in their classes. If you are afraid or embarrassed to talk to a teacher about this, speak to one of the members of your IEP team or a family member. Ask for help in talking with the teacher to explain the supports you need.

What Questions to Ask at Your IEP Meeting

More Helpful Resources

The Common Core: Supporting Students with Disabilities—What Educators Need to Do

Meet the Needs of All

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were created to meet the needs of all students, regardless of ability or disability. To lay the foundation for all students to become college, career, and/or community ready, teachers will need to align academic goals in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) to the CCSS and create behavioral, communicative, functional, social/emotional, and transition goals that support the academic goals. IEP team will continue to provide adaptations and supports for each student, shaping them within the
context of the new standards.

Face the Challenge

Teachers of students with disabilities face real challenges when building lesson plans. For students to realize success at grade level, teachers still must give them as much of the general education curriculum as possible. Collaboration with general education teachers is essential to helping students succeed. The good news is that teaching to the new standards will bring more in-depth instruction and more practical lessons applicable to life outside of school. One way to build a lesson plan based on the CCSS, regardless of a student's current level of achievement, is to look at the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as the instructional design, especially for a diverse range of learners. The principles of UDL involve

Understand the New Assessments

Most students with disabilities will be taking the Smarter Balanced assessments. The current Smarter Balanced field test will help test designers refine the content and delivery of the assessments to students, including students with visual, auditory, linguistic, or physical needs. These summative assessments align directly to the new standards and will be accompanied by a Digital Library of Formative Tools and Practices, which will offer numerous helpful resources, including formative assessments.

In 2013–14, most students with significant cognitive disabilities will take the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA). However, California is also participating in the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) Phase I Pilot/Field Test in 2013–14. The NCSC is working to build an alternate assessment for students with significant cognitive disabilities, based on alternate achievement standards aligned to the CCSS. The goal of the NCSC is to ensure that students with significant cognitive disabilities achieve
increasingly higher academic outcomes and leave high school ready for postsecondary options. The NCSC supports teachers by providing quality resources that will help them design instruction that is grounded in the CCSS and deliver that instruction to students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Engage Parents

When parents and family members understand—and are committed to—the CCSS, their child will have a better chance of succeeding in school. Be sure parents know that the CCSS mean that their child will learn subject matter in greater detail and depth. And engage parents in learning about the CCSS so that they have the opportunity to assist their children in truly understanding what is being taught.

Essential Resources

Learn the Common Core

Create CCSS-based IEPs

Understand UDL

Modify Curriculum and Instruction

Align Lesson Plans

Know the New Assessments

Smarter Balanced

[select "Alternate Assessment" tab]

Learn About Accommodations

Engage Parents

School Administrators and the Common Core: Supporting Students with Disabilities

Transitioning to the Common Core

Implementing the California Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for students with disabilities will require changes in organization and attitude as well as in curriculum and instruction. "Ten Steps for Migrating Your Curriculum to the Common Core" explores key questions you'll want to ask when making these changes, such as:

For the full paper, go to

Professional Development

Professional development related to the CCSS should include both general and special education teachers. The National Education Association Common Core State Standards Toolkit examines six critical areas for understanding and preparing to implement the CCSS, including a section devoted entirely to students with disabilities: You'll also want to explore California Department of Education (CDE) resources at

Involving Parents

Students succeed when their parents and family members support and assist them in their learning. The CDE Web site features resources to help administrators directly engage parents in appropriate aspects of the new standards: (select the "Parents and Students" tab). The Achieve the Core Web site provides additional resources to share with parents:

Aligning IEPs to the CCSS

Academic goals in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) will need to align to the CCSS; and behavioral, communicative, functional, social/emotional, and transition goals should support academic goals. To meet the needs of all learners and to address the rigor and challenges of the CCSS, IEP teams should thoughtfully consider the tasks required by each standard and provide adaptations and support for each student. For information on aligning the IEP to the CCSS, see

Aligning Systems and Processes

A multitiered system of supports (MTSS) coordinates interventions, supports, and opportunities to improve access and achievement for all students. Grounded in quality general education instruction, MTSS is designed to help students with disabilities succeed in the least restrictive environment.

While the CCSS articulates the "what" in teaching, MTSS provides a framework for "how" and "when" to provide it. The professional development modules on the Brokers of Expertise Web site will guide you and your staff in developing an MTSS:

Getting Ready for the New Assessment Systems

As the CCSS are introduced and taught, the majority of students in California, including most students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs), will take Smarter Balanced assessments. These summative assessments were created to align directly to the new standards and will be accompanied by a Digital Library of Formative Tools and Practices. The library will offer numerous educational tools and resources, including formative assessments. For more about the Smarter Balanced tests, go to

Also see (select the "General Education" tab). For a detailed account of the accommodations available in the new assessments, go to

In 2013–14, most students with significant cognitive disabilities will take the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA). However, California is also participating in the National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) Phase I Pilot/Field Test in 2013–2014. The NCSC is an alternate assessment aligned with the CCSS and created for students with significant cognitive disabilities. For more details, visit (select the "Alternate Assessment" tab). Guidance for IEP teams on participation decisions for the NCSC alternate assessment is available at



California Services for Technical Assistance and Training (CalSTAT)
A Special Project of the Napa County Office of Education| 5789 State Farm Drive, Rohnert Park, CA 94928
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