Literacy Curriculum/Instructional Supports

Extended Standards

The alternate academic achievement standards provide a framework for teachers of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities to teach skills and competencies essential for independent living, employment, and postsecondary education. Policy 2520.16 links the existing content standards in reading/language arts, in math and in science with the extended standards and includes performance descriptors that are aligned with the extended standards. These performance descriptors are the basis for cut scores for the Alternate Assessment. The extended standards and performance descriptors included in Policy 2520.16 are applicable for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, i.e., students who are assessed with the West Virginia Alternate Performance Task Assessment

Everyday/Every Student

The Every Day Chart, compiled by Dr. Caroline Musselwhite, is designed to show teachers the types of literacy activities that EVERY student should engage in EVERY day. Thus, the opportunity to choose books and read or listen independently, and to write using accessible tools, should happen on a daily basis, not just occasionally. Looking at this chart from top to bottom also shows how a student's skills in one area, such as interacting with a group leader around text, might grow across a year. For assessment and planning support, see the Bridge protocol (link provided in the chart).

Ten Top Tips for Literacy

Dr. Musselwhite, internationally known for her work in the areas of assistive technology and literacy support for students with significant disabilities, has granted permission to post her "Top Ten Tips for Literacy" related to literacy access for students with significant disabilities. Click on each of the topics listed below for great strategies that you might try in your own classroom!

See more tips at:

Bookreading Displays Circle Time Literacy
Geography Stories High Frequency Words
High Utility Words Phoneme Isolation
Rhyme Rhythm Repetition Sound Substitution
Stories in New York Minute Write_Older_Younger
Instructional Websites

Alternate Pencils

Many students with significant disabilities have very limited, if any, opportunities to write. These students may have physical/motor impairments or cognitive challenges that present barriers to writing in a conventional manner.

The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has provided leadership in looking at multiple types of "alternate pencils" for these students. These “pencils” provide alternate ways for students to access the alphabet and begin to engage in the writing process. The Center’s website provides video clips of students with significant disabilities using alternate pencils.

Story-based Task Analysis

Three sample task analyses for use in conducting story-based lessons are provided here. These have been posted with permission from Dr. Diane Browder. The materials were developed through Project MASTERY/NAAC (IES Grant # H324U040001).