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Common Core Standards Impact Special Education

Andrea Gonzalez
University of St. Thomas
EDUC 5345 Evidence-Based Practices for Students with Mild Disabilities
Dr. Kanisha Porter
February 17, 2015


Across America citizens are united as one country by the currency, laws, and general
beliefs. If everyone is united in the fundamentals that our nation is built, why cannot the same be
done for our education system? Students across the United States struggle with content mastery.
Students with disabilities and special needs have an even more difficult time mastering these
state standards and concepts. Then, if that child is forced to move from one district to another, or
one state to another, their academics do not align. This student could have been making all As in
Texas, but once moved to California, he is failing and being pulled for tutorials and remediation.
Both groups are then faced with the difficulty of preforming well on standardized tests that do
not compare well to other districts, states, or countries. The Common Core Standards were
developed to level the playing field. They are skills that prepare all students for college and
career readiness. They were designed by educators, state representatives, administrators, the
public, and many others to create unity between schools across the country
Where the Common Core Standards came from and who decided to use them:
In November of 2007, during the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSOs)
Annual Policy Forum in Columbus, Ohio, the state chiefs deliberated the benefits of
implementing common standards for all states. Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U.S.
Students Receive a World-Class Education was introduced in December of 2008 by the National
Governors Association (NGA), CCSSO, and Achieve. This was a report to inform and persuade
states to upgrade their standards by adopting the common core. This would create common
benchmarks in math, reading, and language arts for all grades. Their push was, and still is, to
ensure all students are globally competitive in the relentless job markets of today and the future
(Developmental Process, 2015).


In April 2009, the NGA and CCSSO brought together education policy advisors and chief
state school officers to create the Common Core State Standard Initiative. The creation process
for these standards was guided by the interests and academic needs in English language arts and
mathematics for individual states. The standards were being designed to ensure students were
ready for college and careers by addressing what they needed to understand and know when they
reached graduation. In May of 2009, a primary feedback group received the initial draft of
standards for review. As summer began to roll around more and more states were jumping on
board to help the process along. By midsummer teachers were becoming involved to help
develop grade level standards. Formal work groups and feedback groups were also created to
move the process along. In September, a public release of the drafted documents were issued and
about 1,000 responses from educators and the pubic were taken into account. According to the
Common Core Standards website, some of the responses were:

Appropriate in terms of their level of clarity and specificity;

Comparable to the expectations of other leading nations;

Informed by available research or evidence;

The result of processes that reflect best practices for standards development;

A solid starting point for adoption of cross-state common core standards; and

A sound basis for eventual development of standards-based assessments.

As the New Year approached feedback shaped the revised draft of the K-12 standards. In
February the drafts were released to the public again and in March they were edited. After much
anticipation the final draft was released in June 2010. The Common Core Standards began to
emerge in schools in 2011. States adopting these standards took time to review and implement


them. As of June 2014, forty three states have adopted and implemented these standards. Texas is
not one of those states (Developmental Process, 2015).
What exactly are the Common Core Standards and how are they tested?
The Common Core Standards are an agreed upon set of goals, skills, expectations, and
content in mathematics and English language arts that students are expected to learn prior to the
promotion of each grade level. The skills are to provide an assurance of success in college, career
and life (Preparing Americas Students, 2015). According to D. Conley, in A New Era for
Educational Assessment, some of the most vital skills are:

Conduct research and synthesize information

Develop and evaluate claims
Conduct extended investigations
Use technologies to present information in multiple forms
Pan, evaluate, and refine solution strategies
Design and use mathematical models
Collaborate to solve problems
In each grade level the standards are separated into two categories; College and Career

Readiness Standards and the K through 12 Standards. These standards require students to
perform on a level of rigor and sophistication not previously required. These skills are concepts
students at university levels are expected to possess and utilize. Teaching them at the grade
school level will give students an extra advantage when arriving to college or their career
(Preparing Americas Students, 2015).
The Common Core Standards are tested though the Partnership for the Assessment of
Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium
(SBAC). These standardized tests help to overcome the downfalls of the No Child Left Behind


testing. Because the Common Core Standards are at such a high level of application it is difficult
to cover all of them in one standardized test. While the PARCC and SBAC are well developed
assessments, they do not test all of the standards and therefore cannot provide accurate reports of
what students have mastered (Conley, 2015).
How the Common Core Standards impact the daily learning of students with special needs
Students with special needs have difficulty mastering skills at a basic level. According to
an article from The National Center for Learning Disabilities, the Common Core can be seen as
an even more rigorous obstacle for students with special needs to overcome. However, many
teachers appreciate the challenge. The Common Core encourages teachers to use new strategies,
be creative in their teaching, and sets higher goals and standards for these students. The Common
Core understand that technology is the future and requires it for daily learning with all students.
The use of technology is highly beneficial in assisting students with disabilities because it can be
a tool for differentiation and modification. For example, a student with difficulties writing may
use a speech to text system to help write an assignment. Another student who is not reading on
grade level may watch documentaries on a specific topic and then use Google Docs to create a
presentation on what he learned (Miller, 2013).
How students with special needs are tested using the Common Core Standards
Students with special needs take the exam(s) required by the state they reside in. Most
often they take the same exam(s) as their peers, the PARCC or SBAC. The students can receive
accommodations or modifications based on their IEPs. Some accommodations students may
receive are; using a paper based test, access to a human reader, the use of a scribe, text to speech,
ASL video or human signer, and extended time. The use of these accommodations must be


reported and the proper paperwork must be completed. Students with severe and multiple
disabilities who cannot actively participate in either test will be given an alternative or modified
assessment (Testing Students with IEPs, 2015) (PARCC Accessibility Features, 2015).

How Common Core Standards are beneficial for teachers of students with special needs
Unity. Although each student is different and unique in their learning, by having unified
standards helps teachers collaborate and communicate strategies and ideas for teaching them. If
educators all have the same idea of what each student should be taught and exposed to, best
practices can be employed and shared. Because the standards are still new, teachers may feel
stressed and unprepared. Professional development and collaboration with teachers can promote
the success of standards being taught. When strategies are learned and employed, the teacher and
student can then take ownership of their learning (Thurlow, 2014).
Skills and knowledge are both focused on though the Common Core Standards. Teachers
are required to not only teach the content but also the skills that are required to master the
content and make it available for their learning. A second grade student will not only be required
to know what 2+2 is, but how he got the answer. At the brunt end of things it may seem more
difficult because students are not just regurgitating facts. But as they get older and become avid
learners, when they come to a content area they struggle with, they will be equipped with the
skills to help them understand where their downfall is in their learning. They will be able to
analyze the situation and either remedy their downfall or be able to articulate their
misunderstanding and receive clarification from a peer or teacher. This teaches a child how to


learn, make mistakes, and then learn from those mistakes. This practice helps create lifelong
learners who self-educate (Thurlow, 2014).
We call our country the United States of America because that is what we are; united. We
stand for the same values, beliefs, and principles as a whole. If our country is united, why cant
our education system be too? Having states adopt the Common Core Standards would be
beneficial not only for our general education population, but also those with special needs and
disabilities. With modifications through students IEPs and accommodations during testing, the
Common Core can push our special education students to more rigorous content and reach limits
they never thought possible. It holds our students, teachers, and districts to a higher standard of
education that will prepare our students for a competitive and successful future in a globally
competitive market.


Conley, D. (2015). A New Era for Educational Assessment. Education Policy Analysis
Archives, 23(8), 2-31. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from EBSCO Host.
Developmental Process. (2015, January 1). Retrieved February 11, 2015, from
Fairbanks, A. (2014, July 29). Can special education students keep up with the Common








Miller, C. (2013, January 1). A Special Educator Shares Her Perspective on the Common
Core State Standards. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from
PARCC Accessibility Features and Accommodations Manual. (2015, January 1).
Retrieved February 11, 2015, from


Preparing America's students for success. (2015, January 1). Retrieved February 11,
2015, from
Testing Students with IEP's. (2015, January 1). Retrieved February 12, 2015, from
Thurlow, M. (2014). Common Core for All Reaching the Potential for Students with
Disabilities. Social Policy Report, 28 (2), 18-22.
Wakeman, S., Karvonen, M., & Ahumada, A. (2013). Changing Instruction to Increase
Achievement for Students With Moderate to Severe Intellectual Disabilities. Common Core
Significant Disabilities, 46(22), 3-13. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from EBSCO Host.


Reflecting on my research I still find it interesting that students across the United States
are not all held to the same standards as their peers. By peers, I mean, students in the same
ability groups. I understand that all states should have their independence and be able to choose,
to some extent, what their schools teach. However, the big picture seems more important. How
do our students compare nationally and globally? If our nation wants to compete with the rest of
the world, it needs to put its money where its mouth is and build a strong foundation with our
youth. They really are the future of America.
Now how does this affect me and my reflection? Great question. Digging through the
research and reading the articles, along with my prior research and knowledge, I see a terrifying
trend. Millions of dollars are spent on research and technology, yet for some strange reason,
people dont utilize it. Going forward I want to be more proactive in utilizing all these resources
that are available. I want to familiarize myself with new innovations regarding education and I
hope they help me better my practice and help me grow as an educator and individual.