Students whose low-incidence disabilities may hamper their access to the general education curriculum receive student-based services in
Students with disabilities in low-incidence areas present a diverse and unique set of challenges when integrating Minnesota Graduation Standards. These students can participate in selected classroom learning activities and demonstrate achievement with the standards that have been modified to meet their skill level and needs.
All programs work within the context of state and district guidelines.
Areas of Low-Incidence Disabilities
The Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning has identified areas
of low-incidence disabilities and criteria for determining those labels. The state has licensure for blind/visually impaired, deaf-blind, physical and health
disabilities, and Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The areas of autism, traumatic brain injury and other health impaired do not have specific licenses; however, there
are guidelines for staff working with students with these categorical labels. The other special population included in this work are students who use
augmentative communication devices. These students often have other labels, but may qualify for services from educational speech language pathologists.
Low Incidence Team Philosophy
The team of educators who developed the student-based portion of this framework defined both their role and the expectations for
students in their philosophy about the delivery of standards:
“The goal of education for students with low-incidence disabilities is maximal participation in inclusive school and
community environments. This can be promoted through completion of curricular activities related to the Minnesota Graduation Standards. The low-incidence staff are effective IEP
team members in their roles as consultants for the implementation of Minnesota Graduation Standards in special education.”
This philosophy reflects the belief that success in implementing graduation standards for students with low-incidence needs will
depend on all members of special education teams being familiar with the standards, the procedures for documenting student performance, and the role of technology. When standards are incorporated into
the educational plan of all students with low-incidence needs, teams can better prepare students for the world beyond school. Through the standards, which are selected based upon educational and
transitional goals, students will have a wider range of educational opportunities and will potentially be exposed to a more challenging curriculum.
The Framework provides guidelines for making decisions about how students with low-incidence disabilities can access the graduation
standards. The guidelines are an adaptation of The SETT Framework developed and introduced to the field of assistive technology by Joy Zabala of the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation
Counseling, University of Kentucky.
SETT considers the student (S), the learning environments (E), and the tasks (T) required for active participation in the activities of the
environments. The next step is to identify the tools (T) needed for the student to address these tasks.
A Model for Higher Incidence Special Education
Another model has been developed for students with higher incidence special
education needs of learning disabilities (LD) or emotional/behavior disorders (E/BD) who are not in center-based programming. The Collaborating to Accommodate
Performance Standards (CAPS) model and accompanying training is available through the Minnesota CFL. CAPS presenters are two-member teams of practicing teachers, one from special education and one from general education, who are experienced with implementing the graduation standards in their classrooms. Trained in the collaborative classroom model, they are eager to share their knowledge and expertise with other educators. CAPS training is designed for teams of general and special education teachers. The trainings emphasize collaboration between general and special education in order to make the general curriculum accessible for all learners. CAPS training can be scheduled through the CAPS coordinators.
Providing Accommodations and Modifications
One of the primary functions of the low incidence teacher is to adapt curriculum to make it accessible. The graduation standards should be
approached in the same manner as other curriculum tasks by special education teams since the standards are integrated into content curriculum and are approached as other curriculum requirements. The
general education teacher can assist the IEP team in understanding the content and rigor of the performance assessments, but the specific accommodations needed to help a student complete the
performance assessments will generally be more familiar to the low-incidence teacher on the student’s IEP team.
Many students whose only disability is sensory or motor can usually be expected to complete the performance assessments using the
accommodations that are already in place as a part of the student’s educational plan. These students can often complete their performance assessments at the “Pass State” level with the same
rigor as their peers. The low-incidence teacher will collaborate with the general education teacher to offer appropriate accommodations for the specific tasks.
Students with low-incidence disabilities may also receive other special education services due to unique learning needs. For these
students, the low-incidence teacher should work closely with other special education and general education teachers, and related services staff, to determine if the student has both the ability and
experience to participate in the performance assessment and if the student’s performance can be enhanced through accommodations and modifications. Each teacher has a distinct role. The general
education teacher knows the content of the standard and the specific tasks of the performance assessment. The special education teacher adapts the content and makes accommodations/modifications when
needed to meet the student’s learning needs. Documentation of modifications is required using the state IEP Appendix F.
Adapting or Providing Alternative Tasks
Some tasks in the performance assessments will be easy to accommodate. For example, reading materials can be put into Braille.
Other tasks are simply inappropriate for a student who is blind. Completing technical drawings for the purpose of teaching another person how to assemble an item is one example for which a suitable
alternative task would need to be selected. The student who is blind could be expected to write technical information rather than draw it. Another example would be to allow a student with a physical
impairment to use assistive technology for the completion of presentations or writing tasks. Students with low-incidence disabilities should not be penalized or exempted because the task is not appropriate for them.
The graduation standards should be considered within the IEP planning process for each student. As standards are presented in the
curriculum, the tasks for each performance assessment will need to be examined to determine the appropriate accommodations and modifications.
Adaptations and Accommodations through Assistive Technology
Assistive technology can range from a low-tech tool such as a pencil grip to a high-tech augmentative communication device. The range of
available assistive technology is growing daily, providing students more options to fully participate in the standards. Intermediate School District 287 has created a web-based assistive technology database which offers specific information on a variety of software and hardware products and devices for the completion of the
standards. The Framework provides a checklist containing common devices.
SETT Related to Standards
Assistive technology is the means by which many students with low-incidence disabilities can participate in the standards. SETT was first
proposed as a collaborative process for making decisions about a student’s need for assistive technology, but it also can be effective when teams make decisions about the standards for students with disabilities.
The special education teachers on the low-incidence team linked SETT to the IEP process for the purpose of referencing the graduation
standards. This adaptation, called Graduation Standards SETT (GS SETT) will be used throughout this chapter.
GS SETT is … GS SETT is not
GS SETT is:
- A model for thinking as a team, internally and externally
- A team process that promotes attaining the Minnesota Graduation Standards at
the highest level possible
- A systematic approach for decision making
- A process that is data driven
- A process that shows accountability
- A document to support the IEP due process
- A reference guide
GS SETT is not:
- A replacement for any existing evaluations in a program
- A required set of documents to be filled out and filed
- A model that increases the workload
Using GS SETT
Included in the Appendixes are forms for using GS SETT. The purpose of these forms is to create a format for shared decision making in
considering student needs.
- Forms for the IEP Team
Forms for Parent(s) and Student
- IEP Planning Worksheets (long form): Included are note pages with questions for each of the GS SETT areas,
including student, environment, tasks, and tools and strategies. Each IEP team member should have received a set of note pages prior to meeting. Individuals can record their observations and other data. This
information will provide the context for all contributions at the team meeting. Also included is an assistive technology checklist to give ideas when considering tools.
- IEP Planning Worksheet (short form): After a team is familiar with the GS SETT process, the team members
may decide to use the short form. It is not recommended to take this shortcut until IEP teams are comfortable with GS SETT.
Forms for the IEP Meeting
- These special note pages for the parent(s) and the student are designed to address their specific viewpoints.
- IEP Conference Recording (GS SETT Group Memory Plan): This plan offers a suggested format for a team meeting.
Each box represents one page for a visual display on a flip chart or overhead. It is important for team members to see the information as well as hear it. The display
provides a place to record what the team has agreed to and to note the team’s consensus.
- IEP Group Plan Summary: At or following a team meeting, these pages are completed to record the shared ideas
from the meeting and offer a shared group memory. A recorder takes complete notes and later distributes them to all the team members. The team can decide whether this summary becomes a part of the student’s
Some or all of these forms may be used in the three-step process described on the following pages.