Access to Curriculum for Students with Ieps

Access to Curriculum for Students with Ieps

Access to Curriculum for Students with IEPs

Students with disabilities need and deserve the same access to rigorous instruction and high expectations as their non-disabled peers. To fully benefit from these opportunities and meet the standards that apply to all students, they also need specialized supports that address their areas of difficulty. General education teachers need to combine their expertise in the content and their knowledge of their students with special educators’ knowledge of supports and strategies to ensure that all students’ needs are met. All these pieces fit together to ensure appropriate education for students with disabilities.

Designing effective instruction for a student with an IEP begins with reflecting on the content and skills being taught to all students. The teacher needs to:

  • Identify critical and enduring knowledge of the curriculum. Which parts of the unit or course are the most essential for all students to know? What pieces serve as the foundation for future learning? What are the assessment limits? What can be considered “nice to know” but not critical for all to learn?
  • Identify tasks that are necessary to reveal the critical knowledge of the curriculum. What must the student do to demonstrate mastery of the key concepts? What associated tasks are involved but not essential (e.g., if the objective is organizing and writing a five-paragraph essay, is handwriting the document a key component of the core skill?)

Understanding each student’s learning needs and how the disability impacts access to information, learning of skills and content, and demonstration of learning. The teacher should:

  • Review the IEP (especially the “Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance” section) and other records, such as work samples, assessment reports, etc.
  • Consult with special educators, related service providers, the family, and the student him/herself to understand how the student learns and what supports are effective
  • Identify all areas where a deficit/support need will impact participation and learning. Where will supports be needed? Remember that difficulties with reading or written output don’t only impact English-Language Arts, but also affect the student’s ability to access content and demonstrate learning in Science, Social Studies/History, and even math.
DO NOT change the content or level of difficulty / Alternative Acquisition: tools that are intended to augment, bypass, or compensate for motor, sensory, or information processions deficit (e.g., books on tape, sign language interpreter, Braille, etc.)
Content Enhancement: tools to help students recognize, organize, interpret, and remember information (e.g., graphic organizer, concept diagram, study guides, mnemonic memory devices, and etc.)
Alternative Response Modes: Multiple ways for students to express what they know or can do (e.g., assessment done via skits, role play, simulations, etc.)
CHANGE expectations / Reduce the amount or complexity of material that the student is required to master.
All possible and appropriate accommodations should have been exhausted before designing modifications to curriculum. Assessments can be modified only if specified in the IEP.
Specialized Instruction / Teaching designed to remediate the student’s deficits and promote mastery of individual goals and grade-level content. May include specific interventions (e.g., reading programs), pre- and re-teaching, alternative strategies (e.g., visuals, manipulatives), and other supplementary aids and services.
Specialized instruction can be provided by the general educator, special educator, or related service provider (e.g., SLP, OT).

To ensure students’ success, all professionals involved must work closely together. General educators possess knowledge of the general curriculum and its alignment with state and district wide standards. Special educators and related service personnel possess knowledge of the implications of disability and the elements of adaptive instruction.Together they can create the supports that allow all students to make progress and achieve desired outcomes.


Inclusive Practices and Co-Teaching BCPS/MCIE 2011