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Cody Sallee

ENGL 401
Prof Kirchmeier

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) provide a set of guidelines
for achievement in mathematics, writing, and reading. Furthermore, these
guidelines have a unique set of expectations for each grade level, from
kindergarten through twelfth grade. The standards allow for a community of
material across state lines and across the country. They make assessment
easier to conduct. If followed properly, a student should be prepared for life
after high school whether they move on to college or pursue a career right
away. The CCSS creates a spiral development of students, pushing them to
ever greater accomplishments in the classroom. But what happens if a
student is unable to follow the Common Core through every grade? What
happens if they fall off the spiral? What accommodations can be made to
help them return to the spiral? A certain group of students are at high risk of
falling off the spiral- students with disabilities. These students are behind
from the beginning- they must be accommodated.
The Common Core State Standards give students a clear pathway to
success. Its most vital end goal is to provide students with the knowledge,
the tools, and the way of thinking to excel in life after high school. For many

students, attending college is the next step. For others, they must jump in to
a career. Is there a point of balance between college and career? To students
with disabilities, the guidelines set by the CCSS can seem like an enormous
task. If these students struggle to stay on the spiral of Common Core, they
will struggle even more to maintain their place in society post-secondary
education. Cooperation between the CCSS and IEP/504s presents a great
opportunity for students to receive help where they need it. IEPs and 504s
create a specially designed learning environment for a student. A focus is
placed on the least restrictive environment for a student to learn. Once
proper accommodations are set, students can begin to work on the CCSS
guidelines and learn to think in a new way. In a web series showcasing the
2014 Common Core State Standards Symposium for Special Educators, Dr.
Fred Balcom put it perfectly: The Common Core Standards are for all
students. Everybody should have access to the Common Core. Inherently
this means that even special education students should be able to follow the
Standards. Dr. Balcom continues: We have them apply to our students with
disabilities at all levels Special Education is about the services, not the
place. The bottom line is that the Common Core State Standards are a
requirement for all students, and as such must be taken seriously across the
board. Some states such as California are taking a bigger step towards
helping their less fortunate students.
The CCSS Symposium for Special Educators held in California brought
together numerous special educators from around the state. Over a six-hour

period these teachers met with several speakers to discuss aligning IEPs and
accommodations with the CCSS (California Department of Education Media
Archive, 2014). The California Department of Education released videos of
these discussions on its website to allow other teachers from across the
country to view the same material. Providing information like this to the
internet is a great way to share strategies between states and school
The state of California is a leader in progressive education. Already
they have shown a commitment to their students with disabilities by holding
such a seminar. With the right motivation and the right attitude, applying the
CCSS to special needs students can be implemented well. An important part
of accommodation for students with disabilities is the option for alternative
assessment. In the initial implementation, which began in 2014, all students
with significant cognitive abilities grades three through eight and grade
eleven took the California Alternate Assessment (CAA) Field Test (Alternate
Assessments, 2015). Essentially, students took a computer-based test over
Common Core material, but with a lower amount of questions. They were
tested with fifteen questions in each of the major content areas (Alternate
Assessments, 2015). In the years after taking the field test, students are
tested with the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) for
science and the Core Content Connectors (CCCs) for reading, writing, and
math. These tests are less complex than the CCSS, focusing on the main
academic content in each subject and grade (Alternate Assessments, 2015).

Accommodations like these are what make the Common Core State
Standards applicable to every student. If these alternate tests are available
and used across the country, we may be able to see a significant
improvement for all students with disabilities.
Some educators believe that the Common Core State Standards are
too intensive for students with disabilities- even with an IEP. In an article
named Common Core: Whats Right for Special Education Students? Julie
Cavanagh, a third and fifth grade teacher, felt that the Standards represent
developmentally inappropriate curriculum. Cavanagh continued to say that
conforming to the Common Core takes away from the spirit of individualized
goals and education for students with disabilities (Kanso, 2015). In certain
situations, Common Core will be too much for certain students to handle.
Whether or not a student on an IEP has access to helpful technology can be a
limiting factor to their success. The resources available to school districts will
determine how effective their implementation of support and
accommodations will be. The success of individualized education is not
guaranteed and is up to the parents and teachers to be observed,
maintained, and executed properly. If these areas are covered, the chance
for an improvement in a student is positive.
Education is undoubtedly the most important element of a successful
society. As such, implementation of education should be taken seriously in
order for society to continually advance. The Common Core State Standards
provide the framework for this possibility within America. While the Common

Core is a large step towards bringing America up to speed with the rest of
the world, not all students are able to participate properly. Students with
disabilities suffer because of their difficulty keeping pace with Common Core
material and assessment. For these students, accommodation is extremely
important for their future inclusion in society. These students will only be
positive, contributing members of society if they are accommodated enough
during their formative years. A tool called Newsela is great for students who
suffer with reading at a proficient level. Found at, it provides a
wealth of news articles that can be read. It is special because every articles
lexicon can be changed- making the articles accessible to all levels of
readers. Tools like these can be helpful when looking for ways to
accommodate students who are falling behind. In California, extensive
accommodations have been made for students with disabilities and the
practices are promising. If all states are able to provide alternate testing for
students with cognitive disabilities, it just may prove to be what America
needs to provide all students with fair and balanced education.

Works Cited
(n.d.). Retrieved from Newsela:
Alternate Assessments. (2015, December 9). Retrieved from California Department
of Education:
California Department of Education Media Archive. (2014, March 21). Retrieved from
California Department of Education:
Kanso, H. (2015, April 16). Common Core: What's right for special education
students? Retrieved from CBS News: