District Curriculum Accommodation Plan (DCAP)

What is the DCAP?

The Acton-Boxborough Regional School District in compliance with the Massachusetts General Law has developed a District Curriculum Accommodations Plan (DCAP). The intent of this plan is to provide a guidance document for school staff to ensure that all students in general education classes are provided with the tools and strategies to be successful. The DCAP is aimed at assisting teachers and specialists in providing differentiated learning experiences to ensure that students can improve learning through the use of various teaching modalities. The DCAP guidance document describes accommodations, instructional supports, and interventions that are provided for students who are experiencing difficulty mastering content. According to Chapter 71 Massachusetts General Law: Section 38Q ½:

“A school district shall adopt and implement a curriculum accommodation plan to assist principals in ensuring that all efforts have been made to meet students' needs in regular education. The plan shall be designed to assist the regular classroom teacher in analyzing and accommodating diverse learning styles of all children in the regular classroom and in providing appropriate services and support within the regular education program including, but not limited to, direct and systematic instruction in reading and provision of services to address the needs of children whose behavior may interfere with learning, or who do not qualify for special education services under chapter 71B. The curriculum accommodation plan shall include provisions encouraging teacher mentoring and collaboration and parental involvement.”

How did this DCAP come about?

Over the course of the 2017-18 school year, a team of fourteen individuals (eight general educators, one special educator, one English language educator, two building administrators and two district administrators) representing each building met a number of times to review and update the DCAP. This group reviewed a variety of DCAPs from other districts across the State, the Massachusetts DCAP law, ABRSD’s mission, vision and values, and our existing DCAP. Focusing on our core value of equity and ensuring students have access to programs and curricula to reach their potential, we used Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as the framework for our new DCAP.  

What is the goal of the DCAP?

The goal of the DCAP is to describe the strategies and resources that classroom teachers and specialists are expected to use to address the diverse learning needs of all students. Our goal is to create a learning environment where students receive a variety of identified supports and accommodations in order to access instruction and assessment. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to, adjustments in curriculum, teaching strategies, teaching materials and the use of various assessments where students have an opportunity to demonstrate learning.  Since we should utilize available general education supports and accommodations prior to referring a child for a special education evaluation, Child Study and Student Support Teams should monitor the effectiveness of these strategies over time.

For students with existing 504 plans or IEPs, the team should ensure that any accommodations that are required due to the student’s specific disability should still be listed in the IEP or 504 plan, regardless of whether or not they are listed in the DCAP and available to all students.  This ensures that if students leave us to move to another district or graduate, the receiving school has the information necessary to develop an appropriate plan for that student.

“The instructional support system should consist of ongoing systematic efforts to accommodate any student’s learning needs within the general education classroom. Instructional support must be viewed as a viable intervention strategy; one that is expected to occur for any student encountering difficulties in learning.” (MA Department of Education, “Is Special Education the Right Service? A Technical Assistance Guide,“ pp. 5-6 3/01.)  The foundation of ABRSD’s DCAP is based on Universal Design for Learning, or UDL.

Direct and Systematic Reading Instruction

Systematic reading instruction refers to a carefully-planned sequence for instruction. Systematic instruction is clearly linked within, as well as across, the five major areas of reading instruction: Phonemic awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension. For systematic instruction, lessons are scaffolded on previously taught information, from simple to complex, with clear, concise student objectives that are driven by ongoing assessment. Students are provided appropriate practice opportunities which directly reflect instruction. Direct instruction is an instructional approach that utilizes explicit and structured teaching routines. A teacher using direct instruction models explains and guides students through extended practice of a skill or concept until mastery is achieved. Direct, explicit instruction is appropriate for all learners, in all five components of reading, and across all settings, including whole group, small group, and one-on-one.  (Adapted from Florida Center for Reading Research)

What is Universal Design for Learning and how can it facilitate student success?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a research-based, concrete educational framework that helps guide the design of learning environments in order to make them accessible and effective for all. Through UDL, educators provide multiple means of representation (the “what” of learning), action/expression (the “how” of learning), and engagement (the “why” of learning).  UDL can be applied to any discipline or domain and ensures that all learners have access and the ability to participate in meaningful, challenging learning opportunities. The National Center on Universal Design for Learning describes the three UDL frames as follows:

Multiple Means of Representation: Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them. For example, those with sensory disabilities (e.g., blindness or deafness); learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia); language or cultural differences, and so forth may all require different ways of approaching content. Others may simply grasp information quicker or more efficiently through visual or auditory means rather than printed text. Also learning, and transfer of learning, occurs when multiple representations are used, because they allow students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. In short, there is not one means of representation that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for representation is essential. Multiple Means of Action/Expression: Learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know. For example, individuals with significant movement impairments (e.g., cerebral palsy), those who struggle with strategic and organizational abilities (executive function disorders), those who have language barriers, and so forth approach learning tasks very differently. Some may be able to express themselves well in written text but not speech, and vice versa. It should also be recognized that action and expression require a great deal of strategy, practice, and organization, and this is another area in which learners can differ. In reality, there is not one means of action and expression that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for action and expression is essential. Multiple Means of Engagement: Affect represents a crucial element to learning, and learners differ markedly in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn. There are a variety of sources that can influence individual variation in affect including neurology, culture, personal relevance, subjectivity, and background knowledge, along with a variety of other factors. Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty, while others are disengaged, even frightened, by those aspects, preferring strict routine. Some learners might like to work alone, while others prefer to work with their peers. In reality,  there is not one means of engagement that will be optimal for all learners in all contexts; providing multiple options for engagement is essential.

 ABRSD Districtwide Curriculum Accommodation Plan

 Staff DCAP Resources

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