I have reviewed the Common Core Standards for students with disabilities and I am flummoxed. All teachers have to do is provide multiple ways of learning and special accommodations. Students will master the online tests and go on to college and live happily ever after.
First, certainly there are students with disabilities who, with the right support and instruction, can go on in school to master the regular curriculum. Most special ed. teachers strive for this, especially when working with students who exhibit mild disabilities. But for these students, getting assistance and encouragement to succeed in regular classes is nothing new. Special education teachers working in resource classes and as consulting teachers have helped mainstream students for years!
But pushing all students with disabilities to master CCS goals is thoughtless. One idea the reformers have of serving students with disabilities is Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The idea is that it doesn’t matter what disabilities a student brings to the class. Teachers, some with little, if any, special education preparation, are to teach multiple ways, but all with a focus and within the framework of CCS. They will design a curriculum of accommodations for the variety of students with different needs. They will adjust their instruction for each student individually. They will use assistive technology.
Oh and by the way…did I say the teacher would most likely still have up to 42 students—maybe more—in their class! Does CCS talk about lowering class size? Maybe there is a magic wand I haven’t heard about.
The only possible way UDL could ever work would be to have a very small class size. Even then, the idea that every student will miraculously go on to master the same standards every other student will master is ludicrous. Some may criticize me and say I lack high expectations. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
By the way, gifted students work in just the opposite direction with CCS. They must bring their skill levels backwards to adjust to the narrow standards. This should also be a very serious concern because it could destroy a student’s love for learning. Boredom is very real with these students, yet many aim to please. Parents may never know their student is not being challenged or they are working on material that does little to capture their interest.
Most special ed. and regular ed. teachers strive to have the highest realistic expectations. You can help a child go forward the best way possible but you can’t always fix a problem that might be related to a medical condition. Academic and social goals should make sense and not waste the student’s time with nonsensical stringent goals.
Common Core objectives are naively devised for students without disabilities. Therefore, they are even more impractical for students with disabilities. Common Core Standards are not written with anyone “special” in mind.
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