Under the law (IDEA), students with disabilities must (1) have access to the general curriculum; (2) be involved in the general curriculum; and (3) progress in the general curriculum.
The purpose of special education is to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a “free and appropriate public education” that emphasizes special education and related services “designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living”. Special education services are provided at no cost to the parents and must be provided in the “least restrictive environment”.
What is the general curriculum?
The regulations implementing IDEA ’97 describe the general curriculum as the same curriculum as that established for students without disabilities. The general curriculum can be thought of as “the overall plan for instruction adopted by a school or school system. You can find more information Michigan specific information on our Curriculum webpage.
What about a separate curriculum?
Special education law makes clear that there cannot be an alternative curriculum used for students with disabilities [34 CFR 300.320(a)(1)(i) and 300.320(a)(2)(i)(A)]. Decisions about personal curricula should never be categorical (i.e., based on a label of disability) but should—like any other IEP team decision—be decided based upon the individual strengths and needs of the student.
- Inclusion and Access to the General Curriculum NICHCY Legacy
- Standards-Based Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) Benefit Students: IEPs Must Align With the General Education Curriculum MDE
What about participation in extra-curricular activities?
Schools do more than teach students to read and do math. Students also eat lunch together, go on field trips, and join school sponsored clubs and sports teams. These are called “non-academic” or “extra-curricular” activities. Students with disabilities must have an equal chance to take part in these other school activities.
- More detail at: Extracurricular and Non-Academic Activities
Where can I learn more and get support?
- SWIFT a national K-8 center that provides academic and behavioral support to promote the learning and academic achievement of all students, including students with disabilities and those with the most extensive needs.
- Our web pages on LRE and Inclusion
- Inclusion Matters (Michigan Facebook Group)
- Archived webinar: The Importance of Including Students with Disabilities in the General Education Classroom
- Michigan Alliance for Families – Contact Us! 1-800-552-4821
- Kids Together
- Disability is Natural