April, 2011



This issue of UDL FOCUS includes information about 1) a call for Common Curriculum Content, 2) Secretary Duncan's comments on UDL and ESEA, 3) a new Spanish translation option for Bookbuilder, 4) a UDL planning grant funded by the Gates Foundation, 5) fun Teacher Avatars from Intellitar.com, 6) an NPR story highlighting a Massachusetts school that embeds UDL into its curriculum, 7) three members of the UDL Faculty, and 8) a UDL challenge question on assessment.
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Policy iconPolicyLeaders Call for Common Curriculum Content
  Learning 21st century skills picture 
To date, 42 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core Standards, an initiative led by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Recently, seventy-five national education, policy, and business leaders called for the creation of Common Curriculum Content which all states could consider adopting and which would include shared curriculum guidelines that link to the Common Core Standards. Shared curriculum guidelines are defined as "a coherent, sequential set of guidelines in the core academic disciplines, specifying the content knowledge and skills" that all students would be expected to learn. Should UDL be part of this conversation? To learn more, read A Call for Common Content.
Policy iconPolicy2Secretary Duncan Suggests  ESEA Should Include UDL
Arne Duncan pictureIn response to questions from the Council for Exceptional Children, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated that he believes "UDL principles to be central to broadening access to educational materials and curriculum." He also indicated that the Blueprint for Reform of ESEA will support states and districts in implementing high quality programs that support instruction and that UDL principles can help to ensure that these programs include students with disabilities. See the Secretary's complete comments on UDL. Read CEC's Q & A. 
UDL Guidlelines iconguidelinesBookbuilder - Now in Spanish
UDL Film Series pic
CAST's UDL Bookbuilder, a free tool for creating digital books that include UDL features, is now available in Spanish. Just go to the UDL Bookbuilder home page and look for the word Español in the upper right hand corner of the page. What a great way to engage your Spanish-speaking learners!
UDL Guidlelines icon guidelines2New Fun Tool: Teacher Avatars
male teacher
Intellitar, a Huntsville, AL technology company, is working to digitally clone educators to create knowledgeable, interactive teacher avatars who can star in digital curriculum materials. They look almost exactly like their human counterparts. You can explore this fun tool through this eSchool News article.


UDL Guidlelines icon guidelines3NPR Story Highlights UDL
a teacher and her students work on a science lab project
A recent National Public Radio (NPR) story on WGBH News shared how the children at Henderson Inclusive Elementary School in Dorchester, MA are learning through a UDL approach. The curriculum of the school, which was originally founded in partnership with VSA Massachusetts, focuses on the arts and provides an inclusive learning environment. Listen to and read the story

UDL Guidlines iconresearchThree School Districts to Participate in UDL Planning Grant funded by the Gates Foundation


School building
Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation in Columbus, IN recently received word that its middle schools will participate in a one-year UDL planning grant funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Also selected to participate are middle schools in the Reading, MA and Philadelphia, PA school districts. During this planning year, school personnel and CAST staff will develop a comprehensive approach to improving literacy using UDL. To learn more about BCSC's involvement in the project, read this article from the The Republic


UDL Guidlines iconresearch2Two Assessment Consortia Plan to Create New Tests 


test pic
Race to the Top funds supported the creation of two state assessment consortia that are now tasked with developing next-generation assessments by 2014. Twenty-five states have joined the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) and 26 states have joined the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). Technology will influence the work of both groups. In addition, the SMARTER Consortium plans to develop assessments by applying universal design principles. This Ed Week article explains some of the hurdles ahead for both groups.  
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Meet the UDL Faculty 

CAST's UDL Faculty members prepare educators to apply UDL to the general education curriculum through on-site workshops and institutes. To learn more about UDL professional development opportunities, email pd@cast.org.


Michelle Arneson

Michelle Arneson

Michelle Arneson has been employed in the field of education for the last 18 years. During this time, her work has emphasized the delivery of services for students with special needs in the general education classroom. She works for the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency as a School Improvement/ Professional Development Consultant. She believes that educators have a strong moral obligation to help all children learn and grow as learners regardless of their exceptionalities.  

Liz Berquist

Liz Berquist

Liz Berquist is currently a faculty member in the Department of Special Education at Towson University in Towson, Maryland, where she works with pre-service and in-service educators. She has a variety of experiences in special education, social studies education, and professional development in the K-12 setting. Liz is completing her doctoral studies in Instructional Technology at Towson University; her area of interest is changing pre-service teacher beliefs and understanding about teaching, learning, technology, and UDL in order to meet the needs of all learners in inclusive settings. 

Margie Boudreau


Margaret (Margie) Boudreau studied neuroscience research and its role in learning disabilities as part of her doctoral program at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. While at Rutgers, she created a module on special education for general education pre-service teachers that focused on UDL. She was a frequent guest lecturer in educational technology classes. Since receiving her Ed.D., Margie has pursued her research interests in the role of UDL in meeting diverse student needs in writing. She continues to focus on preparing educators for teaching in inclusive classrooms. One of the courses she has developed in teacher education focuses on the application of the tenets of UDL in general education classrooms.


this_monthThis Month: 

UDL Challenges


How could the principles of UDL be applied to standardized assesment?


Many experts believe that applying UDL principles to the development of standardized assessments will make them more accessible and valid. However, there are varying opinions about how to do that. A recent paper, Perspectives on Large-Scale Assessment offers ideas. Download it here.


In an interview published in the Policy Reader in Universal Design for Learning, Dr. Robert Mislevy argues that applying UDL can increase the validity of large-scale assessments. 


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