UDL School Implementation & Certification Criteria (UDL-SICC)

Teaching and Learning

Element 1: Educators intentionally design learning experiences using evidence based, high leverage practices to address learner variability and reduce barriers.

To ensure all students become expert learners, educators proactively and intentionally design learning experiences and curricula that anticipate individual variability and reduce barriers. Goals, assessments, methods, materials, and environments are designed to consider all aspects of variability, including cultural, social, emotional, cognitive, perceptual, physical, and sensory. 

Educators use the UDL Guidelines to:

  • design lesson goals, assessments, methods, materials and environments that flow from an intentional, iterative design process; anticipate learner variability; and identify and reduce potential barriers; and

  • reflect on lesson outcomes and redesign lesson goals, assessments, methods, materials, and environments in response to data.


Lesson Planning with Universal Design for Learning

Variability Matters

Element 2: Learning goals are clear, flexible, meaningful, and support high expectations for all.

To ensure all learning experiences are goal-driven and support expert learning for all. Clear goals reflect the purpose behind the learning experiences, which in turn helps guide the design of teaching plans and practices that engage learners. They allow educators to align curricular assessments, methods, and materials effectively. Learners are empowered to make meaningful choices that support their strengths and needs, encouraging them to take ownership and agency of their learning. Clear goals set achievable expectations for all and should be separate from the means required to achieve them, when possible.

Learning goals are:

  • clearly defined;

  • communicated in ways that are accessible, perceivable, and understandable, and can be expressed by learners and families;

  • separated from the means to achieve them, which allows multiple paths to achievement; and

  • expressed in ways that highlight their relevance to learners and families.


UDL Tips for Developing Learning Goals

Got a Minute? Goal Setting Module

Element 3: Educators incorporate evidence based, high-leverage, flexible methods and materials that anticipate learner variability and reduce barriers.

To ensure curriculum methods and materials are intentionally selected and/or designed to anticipate learner variability and reduce unintended barriers. The materials and methods should be flexible, accessible, and support the learning goals. Methods and materials provide multiple means for learners to access learning, build understanding, encourage internalization, and develop expert learning.

Methods and materials are intentionally selected using the UDL Guidelines that:

  • are flexible and allow for optional pathways,

  • support all learners in becoming expert learners,

  • align to the intended learning goals.


IRIS Center: Instructional Methods

National Center on Accessible Educational Materials

Element 4: Educators incorporate flexible assessments that are designed to support learner variability and reduce barriers to learning.

To ensure all learners gain the intended skills, habits, and knowledge from learning experiences. Curriculum formative assessments are intentionally designed to align with and measure the intended goals. They are integrated throughout the learning experience and are designed to anticipate learner variability and reduce barriers to learning. Flexible assessments inform instruction and support the development of expert learners.

Assessments are intentionally designed using the UDL Guidelines to be:

  • flexible and include optional ways for learners to demonstrate competency;

  • aligned to intended learning goals;

  • accessible to all learners; and

  • used to inform future instruction.


UDL Assessment Video Modules

UDL Tips for Assessment

Research and Reference for Teaching and Learning

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Benton-Borghi, B. H. (2013). A Universally Designed for Learning (UDL) Infused Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) Practitioners’ Model Essential for Teacher Preparation in the 21st Century. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 48(2), 245–265. doi:10.2190/ec.48.2.g 

Browder, D. M., Mims, P. J., Spooner, F., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., & Lee, A. (2008). Teaching Elementary Students With Multiple Disabilities to Participate in Shared Stories. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 33(1), 3–12. doi:10.2511/rpsd.33.1-2.3

Capp, M. J. (2017). The effectiveness of universal design for learning: a meta-analysis of literature between 2013 and 2016. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 21(8), 791–807. doi:10.1080/13603116.2017.1325074

Cook, S. C., & Rao, K. (2018). Systematically applying UDL to effective practices for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 41(3), 179-191, doi: 10.1177/0731948717749936

Coyne, P., Pisha, B., Dalton, B., Zeph, L. A., & Smith, N. C. (2010). Literacy by design: A universal design for learning approach for students with significant intellectual disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 33(3), 162-172. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741932510381651

Dalton, B., Proctor, C. P., Uccelli, P., Mo, E., & Snow, C. E. (2011). Designing for diversity: The role of reading strategies and interactive vocabulary in a digital reading environment for fifth-grade monolingual English and bilingual students. Journal of Literacy Research, 43, 68-100.

Dymond, S. K., Renzaglia, A., Rosenstein, A., Chun, E. J., Banks, R. A., Niswander, V., & Gilson, C. L. (2006). Using a Participatory Action Research Approach to Create a Universally Designed Inclusive High School Science Course: A Case Study. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31(4), 293–308. doi:10.1177/154079690603100403

Finnegan, L. A., Miller, K. M., Randolph, K. M., & Bielskus-Barone, K. D. (2019). Supporting Student Knowledge Using Formative Assessment and Universal Design for Learning Expression. The Journal of Special Education Apprenticeship, 8(2).

Hall, T. E., Cohen, N., Vue, G., & Ganley, P. (2014). Addressing learning disabilities with UDL and technology. Learning Disability Quarterly, 38, 72–83.

Hall, T. E., Meyer, A., & Rose, D. H. (2012). Universal design for learning in the classroom : practical application . Guilford Press.

Fox, C., Jones, R., & Neugent, L. (2015). Navigating the Digital Shift: Mapping the Acquisition of Digital Instructional Materials. In Center on Technology and Disability. State Educational Technology Directors Association.

King-Sears, M. E., & Johnson, T. M. (2020). Universal Design for Learning chemistry instruction for students with and without learning disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 41(4), 207–218. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741932519862608

King-Sears, M. E., Johnson, T., Berkeley, S., Weiss, M., Peters-Burton, E., Evmenova, A., Menditto, A., & Hursh, J. (2015). An exploratory study of universal design for teaching chemistry to students with and without disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 38(2), 84–96. http://doi.org/ 10.1177/0731948714564575

Lowrey, K. A., Hollingshead, A., Howery, K., & Bishop, J. B. (2017). More Than One Way: Stories of UDL and Inclusive Classrooms. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 42(4), 225–242. https://doi.org/10.1177/1540796917711668

Marino, M. T., Gotch, C. M., Israel, M.,Vasquez III, E., Basham, J. D., & Becht, K. (2014). UDL in the middle school science classroom: Can video games and alternative text heighten engagement and learning for students with learning disabilities? Learning Disability Quarterly, 37(2), 87-99. https://doi.org/10.1177/0731948713503963

Meo, G. (2008). Curriculum planning for all learners; applying universal design for learning (UDL) to a high school reading comprehension program. Preventing School Failure 52(2), 21-30. https://doi.org/10.3200/psfl.52.2.21-30

Ok, M. W., Rao, K., Bryant, B. R., & McDougall, D. (2016). Universal Design for Learning in Pre-K to Grade 12 Classrooms: A Systematic Review of Research. Exceptionality, 25(2), 116–138. doi:10.1080/09362835.2016.1196450

Rao, K., & Meo, G. J. (2016). Using universal design for learning to design standards-based lessons. Sage Open, 6(4), 1-12. doi:10.1177/2158244016680688

Rao, K., & Torres, C. (2017). Supporting academic and affective learning processes for ELLs with Universal Design for Learning (UDL). TESOL Quarterly, 51(2), 241-287. doi:10.1002/tesq.342

Rappolt-Schlichtmann, G., Daley, S. G., Lim, S., Lapinski, S., Robinson, K. H., & Johnson, M. (2013). Universal Design for Learning and elementary school science: Exploring the efficacy, use, and perceptions of a web-based science notebook. Journal of Educational Psychology, 105(4), 1210–1225. doi:10.1037/a0033217

Rose D.H. et al. (2018) Accurate and Informative for All: Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and the Future of Assessment. In: Elliott S., Kettler R., Beddow P., Kurz A. (eds) Handbook of Accessible Instruction and Testing Practices. Springer, Cham.

Seaton, F. S. (2017). Empowering teachers to implement a growth mindset. Educational Psychology in Practice, 34(1), 41–57. doi:10.1080/02667363.2017.1382333

Van Kuijk, M. F., Deunk, M. I., Bosker, R. J., & Ritzema, E. S. (2015). Goals, data use, and instruction: the effect of a teacher professional development program on reading achievement. School Effectiveness and School Improvement, 27(2), 135–156. doi:10.1080/09243453.2015.1026268

Zhang, L., Jackson, H. A., Yang, S., Basham, J. D., Hunt, C. L., & Carter, R. A., Jr. (2021). Codesign learning environments guided by the framework of UDL: A case study. Learning Environments Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10984-021-09364-z