Theses Doctoral

The Common Core State Standards as Applied to the Instruction of Students With Disabilities: Special Education Teachers' Perceptions

LaRock, Damien Etienne

The Common Core State Standards are a set of challenging learning goals in English language arts/literacy and math and their use in special education has been a controversial topic. On the one hand, many special education advocates have been pleased that the standards were written for all students, including students with disabilities. On the other hand, many special education teachers have been concerned that an overemphasis on the Common Core State Standards is limiting their students’ access to the full benefits of an Individualized Education Program, which is the central component of special education that makes it so special.
Recent research conducted on teachers across the United States has shown that, overall, they believe that the Common Core State Standards are beneficial for students. However, there is a gap in the research documenting the specific views of special education teachers. It is important to understand their experiences because they have the unique task of balancing the general education curriculum with individualized instruction that may include skills not covered by the Common Core. This study aims to address this gap by answering several key questions about the experiences of special education teachers who use the Common Core State Standards with students with disabilities.
A total of 476 special education teachers from across the United States were surveyed. This study found that they have a moderately strong understanding of the standards and they frequently used them to guide their teaching. The results of this study showed that while the majority of these teachers echoed the general belief that the Common Core State Standards are beneficial for students without disabilities, they did not believe that they are beneficial for students with disabilities. Strikingly, 86.9% did not believe that the standards provide adequate information about their application to students with disabilities. Of concern, 70.9% reported that, when using these standards, they are unable to address their students’ individualized goals—especially in the areas of social and functional skills. Moreover, when asked if they believed that the Common Core State Standards would help their students to be prepared for independent life, 79.1% said “no.” These results yield important information regarding current practice using the Common Core State Standards in special education and suggest important implications for teacher training courses related to the Common Core State Standards and students with disabilities as well as how the Common Core State Standards document and guidance materials may be revised to better meet the needs of students with disabilities.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Intellectual Disabilities-Autism
Thesis Advisors
Chiang, Hsu-Min
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 15, 2018