Hot Topic: Transforming California’s Educational Landscape: A Call to Action for UDL

In recent months, the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence (CCEE) has been at the forefront of a groundbreaking initiative, leading a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Advisory Group. Comprised of both internal and external partners, this group embarked on a mission to explore and evaluate California’s infrastructure in supporting UDL in education. The resultant memo synthesizes their findings and recommendations, underlining the need for a strategic, systemic approach to UDL’s expansion in California. This blog will delve into the key insights from the memo, outlining the path towards a more inclusive and effective educational system in the state.

Understanding the UDL Landscape

The UDL Advisory Group’s work was informed by collaborative efforts between CCEE and pivotal organizations like the California Coalition for Inclusive Learning (CCIL), Open Access, and Supporting Inclusive Practices (SIP). In addition, empathy interviews with frontline educators and practitioners were conducted, offering a comprehensive view of the UDL landscape in California’s education system.

Four Critical Areas of Discussion

The data collection and analysis led to the identification of four critical areas that require attention and action to drive UDL forward in California:

  • Awareness: The first area of concern centers around educators’ awareness of UDL and its significance within the existing instructional systems in California. Do educators understand the “why” behind UDL and how it fits into the broader educational framework?
  • Alignment: Is there a coherent alignment between the state’s support system and the foundational concepts of UDL? Are California educators equipped with the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively implement UDL principles in their classrooms?
  • Application: Are educators provided with statewide systems that motivate, prepare, and consistently support the incremental application of UDL in their classrooms? Do existing educational systems facilitate or inhibit the adoption of UDL-style instruction?
  • Assessment: How can educators measure the effectiveness of UDL implementation at various levels, from the classroom to the district? To what extent are existing assessment measures universally designed to accommodate diverse learners?

The Call for Action
The memo concludes with a resounding call to action for policymakers, educators, and stakeholders in California’s education system. The recommendations are as follows:

  • Develop a Coherent Vision: Policymakers are urged to prioritize a strategic, systemic approach to UDL’s expansion. This includes crafting a compelling vision for implementing UDL in California, emphasizing its coherence with best instructional practices and tiered levels of support.
  • Support Flexible Resources: Promote, encourage, and fund the development of curriculum and resources that align with UDL principles. These resources should be flexible and supportive, catering to diverse learning needs.
  • Align Timelines and Evaluations: Align timelines and evaluations of existing state funding initiatives with a focus on UDL. Facilitate collaboration and integration between these initiatives to ensure a cohesive approach to UDL implementation.
  • Enhance Best First Instruction: Shift the focus of future initiatives towards enhancing best first instruction and supporting the whole child. Avoid relying solely on special education as the primary application of UDL.

The release of the UDL memo by the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence is a pivotal moment in the state’s educational landscape. It highlights the urgent need for a systemic transformation that embraces Universal Design for Learning as a core principle. By addressing the areas of awareness, alignment, application, and assessment, California can create a more inclusive, equitable, and effective education system that empowers all learners to thrive. The call to action provides a clear roadmap for policymakers and educators to follow as they work towards this important goal. It’s time for California to lead the way in reimagining education for the 21st century.

Direct Technical Assistance Support

Posting Date: 9/22/23


Established by the Legislature in 2013 with the enactment of the Local Control Funding Formula (“LCFF”), the CCEE became operational in 2015 to “advise and assist” local educational agencies (“LEAs”) with achieving the goals set forth in their Local Control and Accountability Plans (“LCAPs”). (Ed. Code § 52074.) CCEE is an integral part of the Statewide System of Support, which is designed to build the capacity of LEAs to support LCFF, through the continuous improvement of pupil performance, address the achievement gaps between student groups, and improve outreach and collaboration with partners to ensure that LCAPs reflect the needs of pupils and the community, especially for historically underrepresented or low-achieving populations (Ed. Code § 52059).

The purpose of CCEE’s Direct Technical Assistance (“DTA”) is to “advise and assist” county offices of education (“COEs”) and local educational agencies (“LEAs”) in need of targeted assistance in achieving their Local Control and Accountability Plan (“LCAP”) goals by effectively meeting the needs of students historically underserved. The DTA process utilizes school/district turnaround principles and quality improvement practices to effectively build the capacity of LEAs to support all students’ academic and social-emotional well-being. When CCEE provides this assistance to an LEA, their teams collaborate with external partners and professional content experts to create a culture of continuous improvement that addresses systemic barriers to teaching and learning.

In 2019, the statute outlining the CCEE’s mission (Ed. Code § 52074) was updated to designate school districts that receive emergency apportionments pursuant to specified provisions as being referred to CCEE, after which CCEE may conduct a systemic review of the district. CCEE may further coordinate and facilitate assistance to the district provided by governmental agencies in order to facilitate and provide coherent support.

CCEE also provides technical assistance to school districts that meet specified student performance criteria over a period of three out of four consecutive school years.

CCEE is looking for respondents who can support the partner LEAs in implementing State priorities. Further Information is included in the Request for proposal.

Proposals due: Friday, March 29, 2024 at 4:00pm PST

Point of Contact: [email protected]



UDL Journey Guide: Updated

The UDL Journey Guide provides support for district leaders and teams through four stages of implementing UDL, with connections to state and national support along the way. This guide has been developed with the help of CAST and is based on CAST’s School Implementation Certification Criteria (UDL-SICC).

As part of this work, we partnered with Texthelp to create informational videos and curated resources along the various “on-ramps” to Universal Design for Learning. These tools can support your learning and become part of your communication toolkit.

If you have any questions please email the Journey Guide team @ [email protected].

FAQs on Eligibility for Assistance under California’s Accountability System

Under California’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), County Offices of Education, the California Collaborative for Educational Excellence, and the California Department of Education have specific responsibilities within the Statewide System of Support to assist local educational agencies. Along with staff from the State Board of Education, a series of frequently asked questions were identified to help ensure a consistent and responsive approach to support local educational agencies identified needs.