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Updated: Oct 2, 2022

As special educators, I am sure you are all too familiar with the push for standards-based IEPS and curriculum. You probably find yourself asking, "You want me to do what?!" at most faculty meetings.

But no fear, it's doable, AND it can be functional! And with a little practice, you will feel like this.

I believe that education and how we teach should be based on a learning progression and should, therefore, have an order. I am a strong advocate for standards-based education because I think it helps us to accomplish this.

You don't learn to parallel park before you know how to put the car in reverse. We don't teach double digit addition with regrouping when a student doesn't understand the concept of more and less. We also don't stick kids in a money and time program in 2nd grade through age 22 because they need to know functional math.

The standards, whether Common Core, alternative standards or state standards, are what guide us on the road map of what we are teaching.

In Utah, we use the Essential Elements standards. These standards are what is assessed on the alternative assessment, Dynamic Learning Maps. We are required to write at least one IEP goal that aligns in each subject area, ELA and math. Many other states have adopted the Essential Elements, and others still have their own version of alternative standards that align with their alternative assessment for students with significant disabilities. You can check out the Dynamic Learning Maps Essential Elements here.

Stan•dard (noun) A statement of what students should know and be able to demonstrate. Synonyms: learning target, objective, outcome, learning goal

Is everything we teach functional? No.

Teaching academics are important at every age. But ultimately, we need to focus on what our students will use in their future. It can take a lot of time for our students with significant cognitive disabilities to master essential skills. And then, these stills will need to be maintained, generalized, and applied in the student's life. So how can we make sure that we are teaching the required standards and making sure that we are teaching our students the essential skills that they need to know?

Check out these posts to get started:

Make sure you're following me on Instagram, where I post tips and ideas for tying your standards into the functional curriculum that your students need. I'd love to hear what your biggest struggles are. How do you tie in your academic standards to functional skills? What are your state/district requirements? Comment here or send me a message to continue the conversation!




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