The benefits of providing an equitable and inclusive education for students with moderate to severe disabilities cannot be underscored enough. While outcomes are (and should always be) top of mind, ensuring access to high-quality educational opportunities is not just about the results – it’s required by federal law.
Providing students with an adapted curriculum that aligns with special education laws is one way to guarantee compliance. In this blog, we’ll provide special educators with guidance on which key components of an adapted curriculum will ensure the educational rights of all students with disabilities are being met.
Are you an expert on special education laws?
If you are not familiar with the special education laws that are in place, it may be challenging to recognize if the adapted curriculum you are implementing in your district is compliant. For this very reason, it is critical for you to stay up to date on federal special education laws, whether that is through professional learning opportunities or your own research, such as:
Federal laws, along with state-specific laws, protect the rights of our student population, and as special educators, it is our responsibility to uphold them.
Does your adapted curriculum support progress on your students’ IEP goals?
Based on the requirements of IDEA, an IEP must be written and properly carried out for every student eligible to receive special education services.
The goal of an IEP is to establish clear and specific goals that align with state standards, as well as to outline the accommodations and services necessary in order for your students to meet said goals. Regular meetings involving all members of an IEP team are required to meet, at a minimum on an annual basis, to review and update a student’s IEP to reflect the unique needs of the student.
Creating an IEP that promotes your students’ access to an adapted curriculum, like enCORE, or interventions, like TeachTown Basics, will help support their educational goals in a manner that complies with special education law.
Does your adapted curriculum support differentiated instruction?
In order to meet the unique needs of each of your students, differentiation of instruction is key. You’ll want to evaluate each of your students’ academic and adaptive functioning needs, with input from their families and related service providers, to fully understand what accommodations will be needed and the type of scaffolding that will work best. The goal of differentiated instruction is to allow your students to meet the same educational goals as their typically developing peers, but designing different paths for them to get there.
Modifying instruction and classroom resources, or providing assistive technology, or alternative instructional formats, are examples of differentiating content for your students with low incidence disabilities – and are critical in providing accessible instruction and remaining compliant with special education laws.
Having access to an adapted curriculum, like TeachTown’s enCORE, that has differentiated content already built in is a win-win for your students and you, and checks off another box for compliance! enCORE offers classroom libraries containing classic and modern literature books that are differentiated at three levels – for those students needing the most support to those needing less. Does your current adapted curriculum offer this?
Is your adapted curriculum standards-based?
Often times, special education laws do not exclude students with moderate to severe disabilities from meeting state-specific education standards. As such, it is important that the adapted curriculum you utilize with your students is aligned to state standards.
Implementing a standards-based adapted curriculum not only saves you the trouble of having to create instructional resources from scratch, but also guarantees that the standards required by law are being upheld.
Is progress monitoring and data collection built into your adapted curriculum?
Does your adapted curriculum provide the ability for you to monitor your students’ progress and collect data? It is important to regularly assess and record your student’s progress toward the educational goals and objectives outlined in their IEPs. Progress and data collection will serve as evidence of compliance, both in future IEP meetings and legally when necessary, as well.
Can you implement your adapted curriculum with fidelity?
If you are not receiving professional development opportunities that walk you through how to implement your adapted curriculum with fidelity, you should be…
In order to implement your adapted curriculum successfully, be sure that your curriculum provider offers ample opportunities for training, such as in-person learning, virtual coaching, etc. Ongoing training will not only help you help your students, but it will also help you ensure that you are in compliance with special education laws.
Keep in mind that ESSER Funds can be allocated for professional development opportunities!
Your students have a legal right to a high-quality education that sets them up for success in their academic career and beyond. Compliance with special education laws not only upholds these rights, but also promotes an equitable and inclusive learning environment for your students.
Having access to an adapted curriculum that aligns with special education laws, state standards, differentiated content, data collection and more, will be a driving force behind academic and personal growth for your students, as well as peace of mind knowing that your instruction is compliant!
Megan Gilson is the Director of Content Marketing Strategy at TeachTown, the leading provider of K-12 adapted core curriculum. A skilled content creator, Megan has spent the last decade of her career raising awareness about the benefits of health, wellness and equitable and inclusive education. She received her bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at New Paltz.