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Jerry Webster

Addressing Core Standards in IEPís

By December 30, 2010

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We're now, according to an article in Education Weekly,up to 43 states which have adopted the core state standards (not Texas.† I blogged on the topic in Man Up Texas.)

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers sponsored the Core State Standards.† This is a healthy and appropriate way to see that states are on the same page.† Education has always been the purview of the states, which permits states to meet their specific needs and reflect the values of the state as well as avoiding nationalization of education.

I'm not enamored with the whole "states rights" thing since it smacks of Jim Crow and segregation, but I do feel that the United States is far too large and diverse a country to have a one size fits all education system,† In fact it may very well lead to failure, as we already have an unrealistic belief that high school should automatically lead to a liberal arts college education. †We have far too large a proportion of students who start higher education and never finish, on one hand.† And on the other hand, I know that I have one son for whom that track is just plain wrong. †He and many other students may be better suited to technical programs.

What surprised me about the Education Weekly article was that experts they consulted believed that tying IEP goals to standards was far from general practice.† In all my jobs as a special educator, I have written both lesson plans and IEP goals to state standards.† The hardest thing, for many educators will be to write goals to grade level core standards.† I know with lower functioning students, I usually end up with standards that are below grade level because of the importance of the skills, especially time and money. †(Telling time to the hour and half house is Standard 1MD3, OR first grade measurement and data cluster standard 3:† "Tell and write time in hours and half-hours using analog and digital clocks.")

The Common Core Standards will create lots of challenges.† The Federal Government has already given a 65 million dollar grant to the Chief State School Officers task force which is working on assessment: both for general education and special education students.† That alone will be a big expense for my state.† Nevada only introduced a new alternative tests, called the NAA (Nevada Alternative Assessment) two years ago, because the previous alternate assessment was letting the teachers pick and choose from students IEP's and were not standards based.

States will also need to re-evaluate texts and curriculum to see if they are meeting the new Common Core State Standards.† I was surprised to see how late data and central tendency were introduced in the Math Standards in Nevada.† They are introduced in 4th grade, and students are expected to identify mean, median and mode, interpret bar, stem and leaf and line graphs, and compare groups using data.† Not in Nevada, but they also don't use Everyday Math, which introduces a lot of mathematical ideas much earlier than the old math text books.† I find myself catching some of my students up, because their IEP goals have not focused on the academic knowledge a child should have at 3rd, or 5th or even 2nd grade.

One of my goals for Specialed@about.com is to provide you with IEP goals written to the Common Core State Standards.† Other model lesson plans, unit plans and IEP goals I have written have used a variety of states' standards to illustrate how they are written.† It seems to me, with 43 states in the Core Standards camp, they are here to stay.

No doubt, we will be in a time of change and flux, as we work to see that the new standards make their way into practice.† At the same time, we will better be able to assess whether our schools and our states are doing a good job of providing a free and appropriate education for all children, not just children receiving special education services.

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