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Supporting Students with Disabilities


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) represents the top state education leaders across the country and engages state chiefs in statewide improvement initiatives, including implementation of the State Systems Improvement Plan. CCSSO also helps to bridge special education and general education systems to ensure integrated efforts to improve outcomes for all students, including students with disabilities. CCSSO hosts many state convenings each year to keep new assessment challenges at the forefront and give states opportunities to voice their concerns, suggestions, and recommendations around issues related to students with disabilities.

Current CCSSO work related to students with disabilities include:  

Unified English Braille (UEB) UEB is the revised code adopted in the United States, due to be implemented January 2016. This means that braille forms administered in upcoming years will need to transition to UEB. CCSSO has worked with the Braille Authority of North America (BANA) to gather information from every state about transition plans for instruction, assessment, and training in UEB. This information has led to the development of an implementation guide which is intended to support states in their efforts to communicate about UEB to districts and schools for the successful implementation of UEB. Resources include:

CEEDAR Center (Collaboration for Effective Educators Development, Accountability and Reform) CCSSO is a partner with the CEEDAR Center, a national technical assistance center dedicated to supporting states in their efforts to develop teachers and leaders who can successfully prepare students with disabilities to achieve college and career-ready standards. The CEEDAR Center is a five-year cooperative agreement awarded to the University of Florida by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.  The CEEDAR Center helps states, Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), and Local Education Agencies (LEAs) create aligned professional learning systems that provide teachers and leaders with effective opportunities to learn how to improve core and specialized instruction in inclusive settings for students with disabilities.  Through its partnership, CCSSO and CEEDAR are working to coordinate and leverage their efforts and resources in states that are engaged in both CCSSO and CEEDAR initiatives.  CCSSO is leading development of a CEEDAR policy framing document that can be used to help states develop and implement policies that will build educator candidate capacity to help students with disabilities reach college and career readiness through the alignment of licensure and certification standards, program approval, educator preparation, and educator preparation program evaluation.  

National Center for Systemic Improvement (NCSI) CCSSO is a partner with NCSI, a national technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs. NCSI assists states in building capacity to support school districts and local early intervention programs to improve outcomes for children with disabilities, and helps states achieve a national vision of Results-Driven Accountability for special education and early intervention programs. Each state is working to develop and implement a multi-year State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP), which defines a particular area of focus, or the State-Identified Measurable Result. The goal of the SSIP is to improve educational results and outcomes for children with disabilities, and, as such, becomes a critical leverage point in states' comprehensive efforts to close opportunity and achievement gaps and ensure college and career readiness for all students, including students with disabilities. One major way that NCSI and its partners are supporting states in these efforts is through a Learning Collaboratives technical assistance model.

These topically based Learning Collaboratives are conceptualized to be a network of shared leadership and peer support where multi-disciplinary state teams:

• identify issues and opportunities in improving outcomes for children with disabilities, from cradle to career;

•engage in professional learning and growth to build statewide capacity in key foundational areas such as, data use, knowledge utilization, systems change, and communication & collaboration;

•benefit from a continuum of technical assistance and support, including periodic face-to-face meetings, ongoing virtual engagement, and ongoing, individualized state support; and

• build state capacity around selection and implementation of evidence-based practices, evaluation, and infrastructure development.

A brief description of each Learning Collaborative can be found here. For more information, please contact

Assessing Special Education Students (ASES) SCASS One of CCSSO's State Collaboratives on Assessments and Student Standards (SCASS) is the Assessing Special Education Students group, which supports states in their efforts to develop assessment and accountability systems that provide full equity for students with disabilities. As the only national consortium of assessment and special education professionals, ASES addresses the inclusion of students with disabilities in standards, curriculum, instruction, assessment, and accountability systems, and the effects of these systems on education reform efforts.  

ASES members focus on a variety of topics, including:

  • Graduation rates of students with disabilities
  • College and Career Ready studies/resources regarding students with mild/moderate and significant cognitive disabilities
  • New accommodations manuals and resources
  • English Learners with Disabilities
  • Online professional development on special education  

Students with Disabilities Assessment Advisory Task Force For the past year, CCSSO has begun convening the Students with Disabilities (SWD) Assessment Advisory Task Force. The primary purpose of Task Force is to engage leaders from the six different assessment consortia and national SWD experts for the purpose of bringing national attention to various policy issues regarding SWDs.  Several meetings have been held, and some of the topics have included:

  • Discussion of a decision-making tool to help educators make key choices about assessment access and accommodations
  • Update on how states with the 2% assessment are transitioning students to the general assessment and the challenges they are facing
  • Appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities on ELP tests
  • Communication about the new accommodations for field test administration
  • Considerations for producing clear criteria, consistent with those for the 1% assessment consortia