The Common Core Essential Elements (EEs) are linked to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Mathematics and English Language Arts. A group of general educators, special educators, and content specialists from member states in the Dynamic Learning Maps (DLM) Consortium gathered to determine the essence of the CCSS.  The EEs clarify the bridge between grade level achievement expectations for students with significant cognitive disabilities who participate in alternate assessments and the CCSS.

The EEs and alternate achievement descriptors are intended to contribute to a fully aligned system of standards, curriculum, teaching, learning, technology, and assessment that optimize equity of opportunity for all students in each classroom, school, and local education agency to access and learn the standards. To the degree possible, the grade level EEs are vertically aligned and linked to the grade level CCSS.

"I Can Learn" Statements establish learning targets that can be understood by students and others involved in their education. Wayne County special education teachers have taken the Essential Elements and developed scaffolded "I Can Learn" statements that represent the range of modifications that may be needed by students with cognitive impairments. The "I Can Statements" help to communicate the student's access to the grade standards. Teachers can use the "I Can Learn" Statements in instructional planning as objectives that support a student's progress toward learning goals in the IEP.