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

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


IDEAS that Work!

Project READ is a California Department of Education, Special Education Division project funded through a federal competitively-awarded State Personnel Development Grant to California (#H323A120019) provided from the U.S. Department of Education Part D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education act (IDEA), Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the position of the U.S. Department of Education.

Last updated: 05/29/2015