Shovel the rampCommon core has spawn conversations regarding IEP goals and alignment. Now that most states have adopted common core, it is time to have the conversation about how IEP teams will move students academically.  The answer lies in accommodations!  The IEP team’s first step is to understand the student’s disability and its impact on learning academics. Once the team has a clear understanding, then accommodations will only be limited by the team’s creativity.

The best place to start is by looking closely at the student’s disability and utilizing the evidence found with the psychological testing report, academic testing report, work samples, teacher interviews, and student interview. These five components will paint the picture needed to understand the student’s disability with academics. If the IEP team doesn’t start with data, then they are apt to miss opportunities that will be needed for thinking about and writing accommodations.

This current school year, I have found myself in deep thought about the students in my special education class who are performing poorly with common core.  On the surface it is easy to think that it is the disability itself that prevents access to learning. Instead, we need to be thinking about the opportunities that common core provides by requiring students to “analyze”, “identify”, “compare”, “integrate”, “explain”  and challenge ourselves and the student to think about what it is that she or he needs in order to be an active and successful participant. This is a simple mind-shift allows teachers to be creative with accommodations, which by the way is the corner-stone of most special education teachers.

Instead of working alone, develop partnerships with students about their learning.  Discuss the requirements, what it is that he/she needs to access the material, and how the student will show mastery places the responsibility for learning on the student. Common core allows the flexibility of showing mastery through oral reports, visual presentations using technology, art, and even writing. So if the common core goal is to integrate information from several sources on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably, understanding the student’s disability and providing the right accommodation will not only allow access but also increase learning.

Students know what it is that they need to be academically successful. The problem is that teachers have been locked-in to thinking of traditional accommodations: extra time on tests, alternate environment, tests read out loud, calculators, and etcetera. Today, I challenge IEP teams and general education teachers to change their mind-set and “shovel the ramp” first! If we have evidence that a student does better on a multiple choice test, or performance assessment, then why are we having him/her responding to fill-in? If we have evidence that a student has a short-term memory issue, then he/she should be able to use key notes on quizzes and tests. If the student works best with technology then the student should have access in every subject.  Common core allows for individualization more than state standards.  It is time to think differently and it all begins with understanding the student’s disability, how it affects learning, and providing accommodations for success.

I am looking forward to seeing your comments and suggestions,


About talkcounts

Diana Loiewski has been teaching special needs students for over thirty years. She not only is a classroom high school teacher, she also serves as an administrative designee in IEP meetings, and case work trainer for the military Exceptional Family Member Program. In addition, she presents on special education topics all over the country and is a co author of Individual Education Plan Workbook for Success, and Healthy Relationships a multimedia workbook for special education teens and adults. ___________________________________________________________________ Elizabeth Dominick is the parent of an 18-year-old special needs student. Elizabeth and her husband navigated the special needs odyssey from the time their son was 3 years old to the present. She and her husband have placed their son in both public and private settings and have worked with attorney advocates to get better services. Ultimately, they ended up educating themselves on special education law. Elizabeth is a past reporter and editor and currently writes parent meditations and other articles for __________________________________________________________________ Sharon McCormick is a special education teacher and blogger. She has been in the classroom for over fifteen years. Prior to that time, she worked with emotionally disturbed youth in residential and group home settings. She is clever and creative and enjoys supporting students with special education needs. ___________________________________________________________________________ Renee Tompkins is a graduate of Illinois State University with a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Services. She is an amazing and energetic professional with fifteen years of experience working directly with special needs students. She also serves as a board member of the Special Education Foundation and supports fundraising efforts for teachers within the Poway Unified School District. She is currently employed with the Poway Unified School District and she delivers services to both groups and individuals in the transition program working with adults eighteen-years-- twenty-two years of age. Her current responsibilities include organizing and running a healthy relationship program with both men and women with intellectual disabilities.
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1 Response to Common Core and IEP Accomodations!

  1. Robert Plunkett says:

    Excellent article-provides common sense, wise direction, while reminding us what common core is about (analyze”, “identify”, “compare”, “integrate”, “explain’ etc.) Separately, Universal Design Learning, helps guide us to embedding some modifications into curriculum for all. That if all learning styles are used in lessons, even those without IEP’s will benefit, because everyone has their own best way. UDL/Common Core build accommodaions in lessons for all rather than patch in students with IEP’s. That said, there still needs to be thoughtful special accommodations for our students with IEP’s and think she covers that in her usual masterful style for one of best districts in California.

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