Monday, September 12, 2016
Senior U.S. Department of Education officials will visit CAST and local schools that practice Universal Design for Learning (UDL) on Tuesday, September 13, as part of the seventh annual back-to-school bus tour announced earlier this month to celebrate progress in communities and states across the country.
Sue Swenson, acting assistant secretary for the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), and Ruth Ryder, acting director of the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), will visit CAST on Tuesday afternoon for a “Learning and Listening” roundtable discussion of hot-button topics such as ways to improve K-12 literacy instruction, assessment, classroom products, and teacher preparation to make schools more inclusive and effective.
In the morning the USDOE officials and CAST staff members will visit two Massachusetts schools -- the Henderson K-12 Inclusion School in Boston and the Susan B. Anthony Middle School in Revere. Both schools employ the UDL framework and guidelines developed at CAST to enhance student participation and progress in the general education curriculum.
In the afternoon, representatives of CAST and OSERS/OSEP will meet with officials from the Massachusetts and New Hampshire education departments, as well as education technology and curriculum developers, and local education leaders.
UDL is defined and highlighted in the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), signed into law last December. According to ESSA, UDL “means a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that: (A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and (B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient.” (emphasis added)
OSEP has been at the forefront of funding UDL research, development, and technical assistance efforts for more than 15 years.
In addition to K-12 education, UDL is also an increasingly important framework in higher education and product development.