The Common Core is tough on kids with special needs

Monday, February 24, 2014

In a recent discussion board thread on reading comprehension challenges in autism, a special-education teacher commented that her students can’t understand the assigned reading passages. “When I complained, I was told that I could add extra support, but not actually change the passages,” she wrote. “It is truly sad to see my students’ frustration.”

Why must this teacher’s students contend with passages that are too complex for them to understand? She attributes this inflexibility to the Common Core, new standards—created in 2009 by a group of education professionals, none of them K-12 classroom teachers or special-education experts—that have been adopted by 45 states. Though most Common Core goals are abstract and schematic, collectively they constitute a one-size fits-all approach that, in practice, has severely straightjacketed America’s special-needs students.

The teacher I quoted above—one of the many special-ed instructors I teach at the Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania education schools—is hardly alone. She’s echoing the concerns of dozens of other special-education teachers I’ve spoken with, most of whom have already gotten the message from their supervisors or superiors that they must adhere to the standards and give all their students the designated grade-level assignments.

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