Assisting Special Education Teachers Transition To The Common Core Through Communities Of Practice and Other Innovative Professional Development Opportunities.

Saturday, June 22, 2013: 11:05 AM-12:00 PM
National Harbor 5 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
Content Strands:
  1. Transitioning special populations
  2. Transitioning curriculum and instruction
This session is geared toward educators, building and district level administrators, and state level professional development/technical assistance providers who work with students with significant cognitive disabilities. The National Center and State Collaborative (NCSC) GSEG partners will discuss transitioning special education teachers to grade level academic content based on the Common Core State Standards through the use of Communities of Practice (CoP) and within-state and cross-state collaboration using technology and face-to-face meetings. Examples of professional development activities and associated cost/benefits will be discussed.

How do special education teachers face the challenges of a transitioning to the CCSS?  While all educators are challenged to provide high quality lessons based on the CCSS, special education teachers often face even greater challenges because of their lack of content knowledge and training in general education pedagogy (“Common Core Standards”, September 2010).

In order to support these teachers’ transition to the CCSS, high quality professional development must be provided. However, in the current budgetary climate, funds are often severely limited. Therefore, professional development that creates the most impact while leveraging limited funds is critical. To this end, the NCSC has established CoP’s in multiple states across the country, providing high quality professional development that is appropriate for national use, but still individualized for unique state consumption.

We begin by exploring the goals and objectives of the NCSC GSEG. The Theory of Action and the Professional Development Framework will be shared as a basis for all grant sponsored professional development activities.

Next, the purposes and research surrounding CoP’s will be presented. Through a review of literature and state specific contexts, we will outline what we know about CoP’s and their impact on teacher learning. By definition, CoP’s are groups of people who share a concern about something they do and they learn how to improve as they interact regularly (Wenger, 2006).  Models of professional development that create teacher buy-in are more successful in creating sustainable change (Billingsley, 2005). NCSC partners will share how CoP membership has motivated teachers and improved the participation of students with significant cognitive disabilities in instruction based on the CCSS. Both within-state and cross-state examples of successes and challenges will be provided.

A portion of the presentation will be dedicated to a discussion of innovative professional development activities, including web-based and face-to-face meetings for both within-state and cross-state activities. Various electronic platforms and associated costs will be discussed and compared to more traditional methods of professional development. Additionally, an analysis of different types of evaluation and data collection methods will be provided.

Billingsley. B. S. (2005). Designing effective professional development in cultivating and keeping committed special education teachers: What principals and district leaders can do. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press and Council for Exceptional Children.

Common core standards: What special educators need to know. (2010, September). CEC Today. Retrieved from AM/Template.cfm?Section=CEC_Today1& TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=15269

Wenger , E. (2006, June). Retrieved from