Academic Content Standards

Academic standards have driven instruction and assessments since the mid-1990s. These define what students should know and be able to do. States adopt challenging academic content standards for all students that identify what students need to know and do. All states have academic content standards for reading/language arts, mathematics, and science, and some states also have adopted standards for other content areas (e.g., social studies). 

Students with disabilities, English learners, and English learners with disabilities, like other students, need to be ready for a competitive global economy when they leave school. Inclusion in instruction on challenging academic content standards is an important part of ensuring that this goal is realized.

All students learn the same challenging academic content standards, but students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who participate in alternate assessments based on alternate academic achievement standards (AA-AAAS) learn them at less depth, breadth, and complexity. They need to be on track to pursue postsecondary education or competitive integrated employment. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires states to coordinate educational services with the requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). 

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes. It is important for students with disabilities to strive to reach the same outcomes as other students. In today’s global economy, where K-12 educational experiences must prepare students to enter postsecondary training or careers, it is imperative that the instruction of all students is based on rigorous standards. The IEP should define the services and supports that students with disabilities need to achieve the same challenging academic content standards as other students.