The purpose of attending school is to provide equal education to all students—one that will not only give them a good understanding about the society, but also give them skills to survive and make the world a better place. However, not all students have the same learning capabilities with some being physically impaired while others have cognitive disabilities. Before the implementation of the 2010 Common Core State Standards, the American education system had been losing its grip on its ability to produce globally competent individuals.
These Common Core State Standards, which replaced the ineffective state standards, were designed to equip students with the relevant knowledge and skills that they required to be successful in their pursuit of higher education and their careers. They were also concise and consistent, including rigorous content and demanding that students apply their knowledge through higher order skills. Moreover, the set standards were based on studies and evidence from other high performing countries’ standards as well as the strengths and lessons from the local standards that existed at the time. Assessment of these fewer, clearer, and higher education standards will be based on the students’ ability to apply higher order thinking skills to unique scenarios. As teachers, we were required to monitor students in performance-based practices that take place over a period of time by using a wide range of formative assessment tools. The students were also to be assessed on their mastery of technology tools that they were exposed to during their classwork.
As earlier mentioned, there are students who have disabilities that negatively impact on their leaning process. This has led some people, even teachers, to hold such stereotypes as the students’ tendency to underperform academically relative to other non-disabled students. Evidence presented by McNulty and Gloeckler (2010) showed that this assumption is faulty given that there exist a couple of students receiving special needs education who surpass the expectations of many and excel academically. These common core state standards, therefore, needed to cater for the needs of this entire group of students and present them with the same challenging curriculum that will give them an equal opportunity to succeed in college and their careers. Some of the areas covered include providing support and related services to the challenged students, Individualized Education Plans, as well as the availability of qualified teachers to offer these services. To achieve the goals set under these new standards would require improved instructional strategies, accommodation of those with high cognitive disabilities, and use of assistive technologies for the students’ unique needs.
Educational institutions together with those in the teaching staff need to address a couple of elements to ensure they are successful. These come from the demands of the common core state standards that require educational institutions to develop best policies that focus on the needs of students receiving special needs education. The first element is to develop a sense of ownership amongst all staff members. As educators working with diverse learners, it is expected of us all to assume the responsibility of special needs students’ academic achievement. Secondly, high expectations also need to be set so as to challenge and motivate all students, even those with special needs challenges to perform to the best of their ability. Implementing intervention strategies is also another element. This entails the drafting of policies and procedures that lead to the improved academic and behavioral performance of all students. Also special needs students could be incorporated into the classrooms of other normal students. This collaborative teaching gives them access to general curriculum content as well as specialized support from the teaching staff. Finally, successful programs are associated with institutions that are well organized and have implemented professional assessment and data collection techniques.