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This week CCSESA puts the spotlight on the newest SEACO Guide, which replaces the original SEACO Core Content Access Guide, and is intended to help educators more easily navigate and align goals and strategies to the current State Standards.
Two years might seem like a long time to work on a single document.  But when you’re creating the latest guide to help special education students access the State Standards, the time is well worth it.
 
The Special Education Access Guide to State Standards is designed to support special education teachers by giving them the “most up-to-date resource for writing IEP (Individualized Education Plan) goals aligned to standards,” said Analee Kredel, a principal in Orange County and a coordinator of the team that created the guide.
The new Access Guide, which was released in December 2016, updates a previous guide to include Common Core standards in English/Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics. It is intended for students with moderate to severe disabilities, because it is more challenging to provide modifications to their curriculum.
 
Until the Access Guide was created, there were no other resources available to support special education teachers in aligning IEPs to standards, Kredel said. “This has become the most current resource for us.”
 
Diana Lynn, a principal in San Diego County and the other coordinator of the team that created the guide, said the old guide was functionally aligned to student needs, but was not academically aligned. The new guide has far more academic content and support, she said.
 
What this means for special education students is they will be taught in a manner that allows them to have the same access to the content in the new standards that their peers are being exposed to.

“The great thing about this is that first and foremost, our (special education) students are general education students,” Lynn said. “We have to remember that. We can’t ignore the standards.”
 
Under ESSA, the federal government has specified that students with the most significant disabilities must be assessed according to the challenging state academic standards and the alternative academic achievement standards adopted by the state.
 
Teaching to the Common Core State Standards is expected to bring more in-depth instruction and more practical lessons applicable to life outside school.

The Access Guide provides four different access points, or levels, for each standard. Teachers select the appropriate access point based on the individual child’s cognitive level.
 
Teachers then work horizontally across the page to find sample goals and strategies for engagement for each access point.
The goals, which are suggestions only, provide the means for the student to make annual progress toward the standard at a level appropriate to his or her skills.
 
The strategies for engagement are techniques, modifications and accommodations that will help the student meet the proposed goal.
 
Lynn stated that the guide exposes kids to vocabulary and the general components of the standards in ways they haven’t had in the past.
 
The Access Guide is a tool teachers can use to look at student needs and then create what’s individually needed for them. “It’s not a goal bank. We don’t want teachers to copy and paste,” she said. The guide will help teachers understand the standards and relate them to their students, and then create individual goals for that student through the IEP.
The team that created the new guide is a part of SEACO, the Special Education Administrators of County Offices, a subcommittee of CCSESA. SEACO advocates for effective, quality educational programs and services that meet the needs of all students and families and promotes best practices that improve outcomes for students with disabilities.
 
“We did a call-out to members across the state asking for volunteers,” Kredel said. “We have administrators, teachers and specialists on the team.  It was important to have the people who write the goals and assess the kids involved.”
 
The group then divided up into English/Language Arts and Math subgroups to do the writing, with Kredel leading the ELA subgroup and Lynn leading the Math subgroup. The work began in July 2014 and was completed this past July, when the content was delivered to the publisher.
 
“We all put our hearts and souls into this work, which we did on top of our regular jobs,” Lynn said. “We had to work very hard to come to consensus on everything. We really grew and learned from that process.”

The Special Education Access Guide to State Standards is offered on a single-user USB drive, which is searchable.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:


• Purchase the Special Education Access Guide to State Standards here.
 
• The California Department of Education offers a variety of Common Core resources for special education.






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