Making Sense of the Common Core Standards

Letter from the Board President

With this issue of Connections, TASH once again undertakes one of it primary missions: to educate its members and other interested individuals with cutting-edge information relevant to the lives of people with significant disabilities. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed under the leadership of National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers in collaboration with school personnel and instructional experts (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 20121). Students with disabilities, including those with severe disabilities, are expected to learn academic skills that are linked to these standards.

As was noted by the developers of the CCSS, “Some students with the most significant cognitive disabilities will require substantial supports and accommodations to have meaningful access to certain standards in both instruction and assessment, based on their communication and academic needs. These supports and accommodations should ensure that students receive access to multiple means of learning and opportunities to demonstrate knowledge, but retain the rigor and high expectations of the Common Core State Standards” (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2012). The articles presented in this issue of Connections provide a foundation for the “supports and accommodations” necessary for student with significant disabilities to benefit from instruction in the Common Core.

In the final article, Drs. Fred Spooner and Diane Browder provide a brief overview of the modern history of curriculum for students with severe disabilities and then discuss why academic standards based on the CCSS are important for these students. They note that we do not know all the answers about the academic learning potential of students with severe disabilities, but that there is now a strong research base that demonstrates academic learning ability in several areas. They state, “Although we do not yet know how much of the CCSS students with severe disabilities will learn, we can be confident from this recent research that it will be more than once believed possible.”

I hope you enjoy this issue of Connections. It provides critical information about the changing the nature of instruction for students with severe disabilities and it merits the attention of all who support TASH values and quality education for all students.

David Westling
President, TASH Board


  1. Common Core State Standards Initiative (2012). Application to students with disabilities. Retrieved: June 1, 2012 at: