Special education administrators meet common core
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There are high expectations for students with disabilities (SWD) to meet grade-level Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and be college and career ready by graduation. Researchers have recommended teachers of SWD be trained on the CCSS and alignment of the CCSS to individual education programs (IEPs). There are differing professional opinions on how to meet the needs of SWD as described in IEPs and whether to place SWD in general education settings to meet the CCSS. Under the guidance of special education administrators (SEAs), the teachers of SWD lead IEP teams for SWD. The purpose of the study was to understand the perceptions and experiences of SEAs regarding SWD meeting the CCSS because researchers have provided effective strategies for school leaders to meet the CCSS, but have not yet studied SEA perspectives and experiences. The researcher in the current study used grounded theory design and explored the experiences of a theoretical sample of SEAs in a Northwest school district through the use of qualitative methods, including surveys and in-depth interviews. The current study had a focus on high school SEA perspectives and experiences with challenges and supports in meeting the CCSS for SWD. Key findings from the responses included strategies for SWD to have access to general education settings and curriculum through co-teaching, co-planning, double dose/dip, learning improvement time, and specially designed instruction (SDI) classes. Co-teaching was one way used to access general education, and co-planning was used in professional learning communities (PLCs) outside of co-teaching. Strategies from this study—double dose, learning lab, side by side, and SDI—were used frequently to provide access to general education for SWD. Recommendations for action for educators include universities addressing training teachers of SWD on CCSS alignment with IEPs. Recommendations for research include using other methods in addition to co-teaching to provide access while providing the IEP requirements of SDI.