As special educators, we want to provide our students with the support and opportunities necessary to prepare them to make choices about their lives, identify and achieve goals, contribute meaningfully to the world around them, and develop their independence skills. And how do we do this? By setting up individualized educations that promote inclusion, equity and access.
The challenge? Students with moderate to severe disabilities need different avenues to achieve successful inclusion in the general education environment, access to the general education curriculum, and as a result, equity in the education they receive as compared to their peers.
Some solutions? Let’s discuss how the four strategies outlined below contribute to inclusion, equity and access to the general education curriculum.
ABA-based strategies support development of socially-significant skills, both academic and social/behavioral, while increasing opportunities for inclusion and access to the general education curriculum. In addition, ABA-based strategies can help to decrease behavior challenges that act as barriers to inclusion and learning, and they allow for systematic implementation of interventions across special education and general education environments. Some examples of ABA-based strategies are discrete trial training, positive behavior supports, token economies, system of least prompts, and naturalistic teaching.
Data-based decision-making allows for instruction and interventions to meet students where they are and measure their progress toward identified goals, while reducing instructional time that is lost to ineffective strategies. Also, data-based decision-making supports monitoring progress of students with disabilities in inclusive settings and intervening early when modifications or additional support are needed. This strategy is also beneficial in special education settings as it helps to determine how and when inclusion is most appropriate.
Adapted core curriculums give students with moderate to severe disabilities access to the general education curriculum even during the time they are not in the general education classroom. Adapted core curriculums provide developmentally-appropriate content for students with extensive support needs to use in the special education classroom (or general education classroom when adapted content is needed) via socially-appropriate, equitable materials when compared to the general education materials of same-age peers. Lastly, adapted core curriculums reduce the need for teachers to modify or create content or juggle a large number of different curricula, so that teacher prep time is not an obstacle to access.
Educational technology supports students with disabilities in working on similar academic content at their developmental level alongside typically-developing peers. Additionally, it provides an essential alternative response modality for students who struggle to verbalize or write to demonstrate knowledge. Education technology also allows for continuous data collection without increasing demands on teachers/paraprofessionals and gives students an opportunity to be more independent in an academic or similar task.
At TeachTown, a curriculum development and educational technology company, we utilize the strategies mentioned above within our special education solutions to support students with moderate to severe disabilities:
Across environments (special ed, general ed, home, community)
Across educators (special ed teachers, general ed teachers, paraprofessionals, related service providers, administrators, families, caregivers)
Across learning domains (academic, behavioral, social)
It’s important for students to consistently spend the amount time in general education classrooms with their typically developing peers that is most appropriate for them, as well as have daily opportunities both in the special ed classroom and in the general ed classroom to access the general education curriculum and learning standards.