The UDL Guidelines have a new home! Check 'em out at!
The current UDL Center site will be taken down on August 31, 2018. Please update your links accordingly. A brand new UDL Center will launch after August 31. Follow us on social media to find out more.


Be the change

UDL & the Common Core State Standards

CCSS logoThe Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSS) is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Grounded in evidence and research, and internationally benchmarked, these rigorous education standards establish a set of shared goals and expectations for what K–12 students should understand and be able to do in English language arts and mathematics in order to be prepared for success in college and the workplace. For more information about the CCSS visit

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is included in the application to students with disabilities section of the CCSS. Although this reference to UDL may give the impression that UDL is just for students with disabilities, all students can benefit from applying UDL to curriculum design and instructional practice.

The CCSS can be considered the "What" in education, i.e., the goals and expectations. It is the destination we wish our students to reach. In light of that, UDL can be considered the "How" in education, i.e., the curriculum and instructional framework teachers use to plan their lessons. In other words, UDL and the CCSS are complementary: the UDL framework provides educators with the means to maximize student attainment of the CCSS.

The "What" & "Why" of the Common Core State Standards

engage ny logoEngage NY’s video library is an innovative set of resources that explains the instructional shifts embedded in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), teacher and leadership evaluation issues, and data driven instruction practices. Several videos illustrate Common Core-aligned teaching episodes. For example, view this video which illustrates a Kindergarten class working with manipulatives to decompose numbers 11–19 (K NBT.1) or watch this video to see 5th graders quoting and explaining text and comparing two different types of texts with similar themes (RL 5.1 and 5.9). Videos range in length from short, 5-minute clips to longer views of lessons up to 40 minutes. For more information, go to the EngageNY web site.

CCSS illustrationSeveral videos explain the purpose and history of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). View this video (2:43 minutes) from the Hunt Institute to see an overview of the CCCSS and how they prepare students with the knowledge and skills needed for college and careers. Another video (3 minutes) produced by the Council of Great City Schools uses a staircase analogy to explain how the CCSS can help students achieve at high levels.

Graphic of a multicolored faceWide-spread adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has given rise to some controversy and anxieties among educators fueling the flames of misperception, confusion, and rumor. Read this issue of Education Leadership to learn more about the myths vs. the facts surrounding the CCSS.

The "How"—Applying UDL to reach the CCSS

Photo of a stack of four booksThe National UDL Task Force created a UDL and Common Core FAQs brief to help educators, parents and advocates learn more about how UDL and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) align with each other. The brief explains why UDL is mentioned in the CCSS and which parts of the CCSS directly align with UDL and which do not. It offers a description of how teachers can use the UDL framework and CCSS together to support the development of clear, effective instructional goals.

Photo of Dr. Katie Novak and a studentIn these Teaching Channel videos, teacher and UDL expert Dr. Katie Novak explains why sharing the Common Core State Standards with learners is important. Although she doesn’t mention UDL specifically in the video, UDL is the foundation for Novak’s teaching strategies. Watch the Exploring Imagery Through Beowulf video to see how she offers multiple means of representation. Specifically, she varies the display of information, clarifies vocabulary, highlights critical features, and guides visualization. In addition, she presents multiple means of engagement by fostering collaboration in small group activities. In this video, Novak shares the language of the Common Core with her students. She also demonstrates multiple means of engagement by recruiting student interest, highlighting appropriate goals and expectations to sustain effort and persistence, and supports self-regulation and self-assessment.

UDL Exchange logoCAST’s UDL Exchange includes embedded UDL lesson planning supports that guide teachers in proactively creating curriculum resources and lessons to maximize learning for all learners. This tool is designed to allow teachers to align all lessons, resources and collections with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). You can also search by subject, grade level, and topic for lessons created by others that are aligned to specific CCSS.

LDC-UDL etTo illustrate how the UDL framework can be used to design lessons based on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), CAST created a model lesson in UDL Exchange that integrates the UDL guidelines and the Literacy by Design Collaborative (LDC) framework. The LDC modules were developed to offer strategies for the English language arts standards of the CCSS. Another resource, a UDL-LDC module on the U.S. Declaration of Independence, is available in UDL Studio—a CAST tool for creating UDL learning environments. Using both the UDL and LDC frameworks in the design of lessons helps educators design instruction that meets writing and literacy goals (the what) and provides scaffolds and supports (the how) to benefit all learners. CAST’s LDC-UDL Crosswalk explains the intersection of UDL and LDC and includes resources for studying the U.S. Declaration of Independence, including descriptions for a set of ten lessons, hand-outs to support the writing process, options of reading supports and documents, and a current event that can be considered in light of what was learned about the U.S. Declaration of Independence.

Photo of a young girl in a classroomThe UDL principles and practice video library hosted by the National Center on UDL can be used to illustrate how to apply the UDL guidelines to lessons that address specific Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Go to the UDL-CSSS Video Crosswalk to view these videos and read overviews of highlighted UDL principles, UDL guidelines, and CCSS.

Last Updated: 07/15/2014

Select this then click anywhere on the page to start reading text Play Pause Stop