## UDL and the Common Core

This information is from the National Center for Universal Design for Learning

The development and implementation of common core content standards and goals incorporates the principles of UDL. UDL is an approach to instruction that responds to our understanding about how the brain works by providing multiple pathways for each learner to access content and experience success.
Curricula (goals, methods, materials, and assessments) designed using UDL put an emphasis on creating effective, flexible goals, and the Common Core Standards provide an important framework for thinking about what goals will be most effective. UDL not only applies to students with disabilities, it applies to all other learners as well. All students can benefit from the types of instruction used to reach learners “on the margins,” as the learning needs of all individuals vary a great deal. As such, UDL should be used within inclusive general education classrooms. |

## Purpose of UDL Curriculum

The purpose of UDL curricula is not simply to help students master a specific body of knowledge or a specific set of skills, but to help them master learning itself—in short, to become expert learners. Expert learners have developed three broad characteristics. They are: a) strategic, skillful and goal directed; b) knowledgeable, and c) purposeful and motivated to learn more. Designing curricula using UDL allows teachers to remove potential barriers that could prevent learners from meeting this important goal.

## Is UDL included in the Common Core?

UDL is included in the section of the Common Core Standards called “application to students with disabilities”.In this section the authors referred to the definition laid out in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (PL 110-135).The reference to UDL in this section may give the impression that UDL is just for students with disabilities. However, UDL not only applies to students with disabilities, it applies to all other learners as well. All students can benefit from the types of instruction used to reach learners “on the margins,” as the learning needs of all individuals vary a great deal. As such, UDL should be used within inclusive general education classrooms.

Although this is the only specific mention of UDL, there are many concepts embedded throughout the Common Core Standards that are aligned with the UDL framework.

Although this is the only specific mention of UDL, there are many concepts embedded throughout the Common Core Standards that are aligned with the UDL framework.

## What aligns with UDL?

There are many ways in which the Common Core Standards align to the UDL framework. Curricula (goals, methods, materials, and assessments) designed using UDL put an emphasis on creating effective, flexible goals, and the Common Core Standards provide an important framework for thinking about what goals will be most effective.

UDL emphasizes that an effective goal must be flexible enough to allow learners multiple ways to successfully meet it. To do this, the standard must not embed the means (the how) with the goal (the what). What do we mean by this? One good example is from the Mathematics standards: “apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division and of fractions to multiply and divide rational numbers.” (Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Grade 7, The Number System, 7.NS, item 2, p.48) This standard is flexible enough that all learners can meet this goal because it does not specify how it must be done.

UDL emphasizes that an effective goal must be flexible enough to allow learners multiple ways to successfully meet it. To do this, the standard must not embed the means (the how) with the goal (the what). What do we mean by this? One good example is from the Mathematics standards: “apply and extend previous understandings of multiplication and division and of fractions to multiply and divide rational numbers.” (Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Grade 7, The Number System, 7.NS, item 2, p.48) This standard is flexible enough that all learners can meet this goal because it does not specify how it must be done.

## What might not align with UDL?

Unfortunately there are also areas of the Common Core Standards that do not align with UDL, or would not be very good goals for a UDL curriculum unless certain terms (e.g. writing, listening, speaking and explaining) are interpreted in their broadest sense to make the standards flexible enough to remove barriers for certain students. Previously we mentioned that the teachers should not confuse the means and the goals. There are certain standards that do just that.

For example: "Tell and

The SFUSD Core Curriculum development project has as one of its goals the incorporation of UDL design in all Units of Study.

For example: "Tell and

**write**time in hours and half-hours using analog and digital clocks" (Common Core State Standards for Mathematics, Grade 1, Measurement and Data, 1.MD, item 3, p.16). The problem with this standard is that it requires students to**write**time. This presents some learners with a barrier because the act of**writing**is difficult for them. In this case,**express**would be more appropriate than**write**, as it allows flexibility and avoids confounding the expectation with tasks that are superfluous to the actual goal. Or, the standard would align with UDL if “write” were interpreted to permit other forms of expression.The SFUSD Core Curriculum development project has as one of its goals the incorporation of UDL design in all Units of Study.