Math Accessibility Framework
The Math Accessibility Framework is a tool for general and special educators to use when planning math lessons for students with disabilities and students who struggle. It addresses:
- the goals of the lesson
- the student’s strengths and difficulties
- strategies that align with student needs
- upholding rigorous academic goals
- fostering independence for students
- increasing positive impact on learning for all students
Although this Quick Win talks specifically about math and refers to middle school, these tools can be very easily applied to other grades and subjects.
Anticipated OutcomeParticipants will be able to plan math lessons that support students with disabilities, and those who struggle, while maintaining rigorous goals for all students.
Why Use the Framework?
Math learning difficulties are common and worthy of attention. Math is a language we use everyday. It helps us to understand the world, think critically about problems, make decisions and connections. The effects of math failure throughout years of schooling, coupled with math illiteracy in adult life, can seriously handicap both daily living and vocational prospects (Garnett, 1998).
Students may also struggle in math class for reasons unrelated to mathematical knowledge. Below are six areas that can affect mathematics learning:
By utilizing the Math Accessibility Framework, students can be supported and build independent strategies. It can also help avoid unintentionally lowering expectations for appropriate goals and losing the rigor of the lesson.
Garnett, Ph.D, K. (1998). Math learning disabilities. Division for Learning Disabilities Journal of CEC. Retrieved from http://www.ldonline.org/article/5896/
How Do I Get Started?
- Download and read the Math Accessibility Framework Overview to get a brief summary of how to utilize the framework and planning sheet.
- Watch the video to get a more in depth look at the planning process and how to think about each section of the framework.
In your first attempt to implement the framework, consider:
- focusing on one student
- starting with one lesson that you feel comfortable teaching
- choosing a couple of strategies with which you are familiar
- using the Accessibility Lesson Planner to document your planning
What Strategies Could I Use?
With a wide range of learning difficulties within each classroom, determining which strategies might be helpful for students can be challenging. Collaboration between general and special educators can aid in making sure both the student and the math goals are supported.
- Special education teachers can offer a background in helping students overcome learning difficulties. They might also have experience working with a particular student or a student with similar learning difficulties.
- Math teachers know the math goals, pre-skills needed, and how the concepts connect. They will make sure students are working toward rigorous math goals.
You could also reference the Accessibility Strategies for Mathematics document. It identifies six areas in which students' strengths and needs strongly affect mathematics learning and offers strategies that can be utilized to overcome barriers in these areas (EDC, 2007). It is not an all-inclusive list, but it can start the conversation and may spark other ideas to assist in overcoming barriers and impacting the learning for all students!
Education Development Center. (2007). Accessibility strategies for mathematics. Retrieved from: https://achievethecore.org/content/upload/Handout%203_Math-accessibility-strategies.pdf
Are There Other Planners to Utilize?
The Accessibility Lesson Planner is just one of many that can be utilized.
- Find more formats and layouts on the Education Development Center’s Addressing Accessibility in Mathematics webpage
- Download the digital planner to create one that fits both your needs and the needs of your students.
The Framework Could Be Used For Other Subject Areas, Too!
While the EDC developed this framework for math lessons, Michigan educators have said that it would also be useful for any subject area. The consideration of the content, student, barriers, and strategies is good practice to support students who struggle with any lesson or content area. Feel free to share this information with colleagues looking to better support students with disabilities.