Standards Aligned Instruction and Essential Elements

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Every Student Succeeds Act ensure that all students, including students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, have access to grade level curriculum and individualized, standards-aligned instruction to grade level standards. In Pennsylvania instruction for all is aligned to the PA Core Standards in English Language Arts and Mathematics and the PA STEELS Standards in Science. All students are expected to show their knowledge of the standards through participation in end of year summative assessments.

For students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, accessible content that is reduced in depth, breadth, and complexity is critical to their understanding and success. The PaTTAN webpages highlight key information for teachers and families about accessible academic content for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. These are students who have been determined to be eligible for participation in the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment Dynamic Learning Maps (PASA DLM) by the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team using
PASA Eligibility Criteria: IEP Decision Making Companion ToolStudents assessed on the PASA DLM often receive related services, extensive supports, and significant modifications across all areas of the school day. Based upon students’ extensive needs, it is important to have available a system of accessible content, instructional resources, and professional development in order to teach students the skills needed to be successful for life after high school. 

For more information on Essential Elements and standards aligned instruction, see
Understanding Standards Aligned Instruction for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities Frequently Asked Questions.