Over the past several months, we've received dozens of comments, emails, notes, and letters from parents concerned about Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and their implementation. We read every comment we receive from our community, and we’d like to offer some ideas on how to help kids who are struggling with the standards.
Those ideas are below. But first we’d like to share an excerpt from a note we received from a concerned member of our Facebook community:
As a parent of a special needs child and an educator I understand high expectations. I have them for my child and for my students. In theory the standards would seem to be able to give teachers autonomy to create innovative ways for children to meet a standard, that they could approach instruction from a variety of ways as long as the child meets the standard. This is not the case. Special needs students are being force-fed mandated curriculum—not standards! Curriculum and standards are two different animals with very little differentiation to help them meet the standards. And while giving special needs children access and exposure to general education curriculum is a good idea to some extent, what happens if they cannot grasp it in the same timeframe as their general education counterparts? Well, I can tell you what is happening: They, unfortunately, fail again and again. – Jennifer
At NCLD, our top priority is helping all children with learning and attention issues succeed in school and in life. With that in mind, here are a few ideas for ways to take action if you feel your kids are falling behind.
Jennifer's concern that students are receiving curriculum without accommodations is a valid one. Students with learning and attention issues might need accommodations (such as extra test time or access to a calculator) in order to complete assignments and learn the material. Accommodations don't alter the content of assignments; they make it possible for students with learning and attention issues to show what they know without being impeded by their learning difficulties. Learn more about accommodations.
Reach out to your child's school and teachers, and ask about whether accommodations (including accommodations that make use of assistive technology) can be put in place. Accommodations, Techniques and Aids for Learning Examples of Common Accommodations More About Assistive Technology.
If your child is struggling due to changes in standards or curriculum, now is the time to schedule an IEP meeting. Here are some questions to ask at the meeting.
Is your child’s IEP aligned to the new standards? Make sure the goals in your child’s IEP align with what he’s expected to know. If your child’s IEP isn’t aligned with CCSS, talk this over with the IEP team.
What's the school's plan to help your child succeed? This is a very imprtant question to ask. Schools must provide your child with a free and appropriate public education, individualized for your child's unique needs. To fulfill that obligation, schools, need to have a game plan for getting your child on track.
There are many excellent online resources that detail CCSS, its implementation, and accommodations for students with learning and attention issues and other disabilities. Here is a link to one of our favorites, provided by the National Center on Universal Design for Learning.