Universal design for learning in ESSA


Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for creating and sustaining educational systems that are responsive to the needs of each learner, including students in the many subgroups that are referenced in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) such as students with disabilities, English learners, students that are economically disadvantaged, students from major racial and ethnic groups, students that are gifted and talented, students that are homeless, migratory students, and students in foster care.

UDL accelerates this process by offering multiple ways of engaging students, representing information and demonstrations of mastery. These are the three core components of UDL. In addition to the ESSA references, UDL is defined in the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 and is a recommended component in the National Education Technology Plans (2010, 2016, 2017) and the 2015 Ed Tech Developer’s Guide published by the United States Department of Education. 

UDL is referenced in a number of provisions throughout ESSA can be referenced in both state and local education agency ESSA implementation plans as an acknowledgement of and commitment to addressing the diversity inherent in all learners. 

A full version of this description of references to UDL in the ESSA legislation can be downloaded from this link: UDL and ESSA.