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Writing Standards-Based IEPs for Students with Significant Disabilities. August, 2008. Focus. Shifting to focus on academic standards Role of functional skills instruction Linkage to grade level content Alternate formats of grade level materials Developing goals and objectives.

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Writing Standards-Based IEPs for Students with Significant Disabilities

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  • Shifting to focus on academic standards
  • Role of functional skills instruction
  • Linkage to grade level content
  • Alternate formats of grade level materials
  • Developing goals and objectives

Curriculum Access – Students with Significant Disabilities

Changing Expectations

Changing Practices

Changing Outcomes

Shifts Happen…

students with significant disabilities
Students with Significant Disabilities
  • require extensive supports to engage in typical daily activities
  • likely require ongoing support in adulthood
  • complex needs in areas such as communication, health care, behavior support, skill acquisition (e.g., academic, self-help, social, vocational), and generalization
  • may experience sensory deficits and motor challenges which require targeted interventions to support their participation in routines and activities
federal law impact on practices
Federal law → Impact on practices


  • access to the general education curriculum
  • raised expectations for all through challenging academic standards
  • use of alternate assessment aligned to academic content standards at grade-level


  • alternate assessments for students with significant disabilities aligned to grade-level content
  • accountability
history of curriculum for students with severe disabilities
1960’s – Institutionalization

1970’s – Deinstitutionalization Movement

1990’s – Inclusive Education

Developmental Curriculum

Functional Curriculum

Academic Content


History of Curriculum for Students with Severe Disabilities

University of Kentucky - NAAC

students with significant disabilities new expectations big shifts
Students with Significant DisabilitiesNew expectations…big shifts!
  • Foundation Skills
  • Content Standards
  • Benchmarks
  • Grade Level Expectations
foundation skills
Foundation Skills

1. communication

2. problem solving

3. resource access and utilization

4. linking and generating knowledge

5. citizenship

what about the unique needs of students with disabilities
What about the Unique Needs of Students with Disabilities?
  • IEP
    • Must address general education curriculum
    • Must address any other needs that result from a student’s disability
    • Individualization is recognized and required
what about functional skills
“What about functional skills?

Students with most significant cognitive disabilities should:

  • Address functional skills through the IEP
  • Embed within academic and natural daily routines
  • Assess via classroom instruction, not LAA1
students with most significant cognitive disabilities should
Students with most significant cognitive disabilities should:
  • Be taught academic content because it is “functional” and socially valid
  • Not have to wait until they are able to make a bed before they are taught to read or before they are taught literature
  • Be presumed competent and not denied instruction offered to students of the same age (grade level content standards and curriculum)

Adapted from National Alternate Achievement Center, www.naacpartners.org


Proposed LAA1 Participation Criteria

Evidence of a Significant Cognitive Disability (3 or more Standard Deviations below the mean)

Criterion #1

Instructional Needs and Curricular Alignment (aligned to Extended Standards)

Criterion #2

Criterion #3

Student Safeguards

louisiana extended standards http www louisianaschools net lde saa 2219 html
Louisiana Extended Standardshttp://www.louisianaschools.net/lde/saa/2219.html
  • based on benchmarks and GLEs
  • ELA, mathematics, and science
  • capture the essence of the GLEs
  • core academic content that may be assessed at each grade span (3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12)
extended standards
Extended Standards
  • articulate academic learning from one grade to the next
  • facilitate access to grade level content
  • move from the concrete to the abstract
  • attend to prerequisite skills and understandings
complexity levels
Complexity Levels
  • Three complexity levels for each extended standard.
  • Descriptions of varying opportunities to access the academic content identified by the extended standard
Level 1

least complex; reflects a student’s initial encounter with content related to the extended standard.

Level 2

a more complex application of the extended standards.

Level 3

even more complex learning situations (e.g., comprehension and subsequent processing of discourse, text, and underlying text structure.) Mastery of an extended standard generally indicated by a student performing at level 3.


Grades 3-4

English Language Arts


5-6 Grade

English Language Arts


Grades 7-8

English Language Arts


9-12 Grade

English Language Arts

laa1 spring 2009
LAA1 Spring 2009

Performance Task Samples


Parent brochure http://www.louisianaschools.net/lde/uploads/11848.pdf

Who, what, when, where, how

implications for students
Implications for Students

Access to the broad general education curriculum, not just the Extended Standards

  • The Extended Standards do not constitute a separate curriculum

Address a variety of GLEs at grade level

  • Partial participation

Curriculum content increases in complexity over time

  • Change/growth over time
implications for students26
Implications for students

Address scope and sequence

  • At appropriate complexity level

Use grade level instructional materials in appropriate alternate formats

  • Accessible instructional materials

Taught functional skills as determined by the IEP teams

  • practice skills within the context of general education academic routines
essential issues
Essential Issues

These are concepts and practices which have been researched and found to be effective and critical elements of a student’s education program.

essential issues28
Essential Issues
  • Ability to contribute
  • Age-appropriateness
  • Assistive technology
  • Friendships
  • Future-oriented
  • Generalization
  • Inclusion
essential issues continued
Essential Issues (continued)
  • Partial participation
  • Positive behavioral support
  • Self-determination
  • Student dignity
  • Student preferences
middle and high school considerations
Middle and High School Considerations
  • Community Access
  • Vocational Training/Employment
reading lack of knowledge regarding students with significant disabilities
Reading: Lack of Knowledge regarding Students with Significant Disabilities

Lack of focus on reading for this population

In the last 20 years while the “science of reading” has been developing, the focus in severe disabilities has been functional life skills (Browder)

Limited research

Unknown possibilities

Next step to apply what is known from the “science of reading” to develop powerful, longitudinal reading interventions (Browder)

the opportunity to learn reading
The Opportunity to Learn Reading
  • Because…
    • Students “potential” to make progress is unknown without the opportunity to learn
    • Students who are not disabled are not required to master all life skills before getting to learn to read
    • Academic instruction for students who are nondisabled does not end at the first sign of “no progress”
    • Reading is a “pivotal skill” that can enhance adult outcomes; reading is functional
    • Even if students do not become literate, the acquisition of early literacy skills can open opportunities to enjoy and benefit from a wide range of age and grade appropriate literature

Browder, Diane M. & Jimenez, Bree

literacy general consideration
Literacy: General Consideration
  • Teaching to instructional level
    • Emergent literacy
  • Using age appropriate literature and activities
instructional level emergent literacy
Instructional Level:Emergent Literacy
  • Between birth and when child learns to read
  • Based on belief that from earliest development children are in process of becoming literate
  • Strong emphasis on communication

Diane M. Browder, Ph.D. & Bree Jimenez, M.Ed.

approaches to literacy for students with disabilities
Approaches to Literacy for Students with Disabilities
  • “Readiness” model following same progression as all children
    • Many unable to master prerequisites so literacy stalled
  • Functional model
    • May learn sight words but not generalize for meaning; some could not learn sight words
  • Promoting emergent literacy
    • Access for every child

Diane M. Browder, Ph.D. & Bree Jimenez, M.Ed

early stages of literacy development
Early Stages of Literacy Development
  • Early Emergent Literacy
    • Learn that books have stories; interest in print; learn to handle books; scribble
  • Emergent Literacy
    • Begin to understand that text/pictures convey meaning; read some words; may write letters
  • Developing Literacy
    • Phonemic awareness; decode words; comprehend picture books; sight vocabulary; compose sentence
  • Early Independent Literacy
    • Begin to read for interest or information; write own ideas; answer questions about text

Diane M. Browder, PhD & Bree Jimenez, MEd


Providing Accessible Instructional Materials (AIM)

  • Linked to grade level content
  • Alternate format matched to student learning needs
  • Routine instructional practice
idea section 300 172 accessible instructional materials
IDEA Section 300.172Accessible Instructional Materials

Provisions within the IDEA 04 require that textbooks and related core instructional materials be provided to students with print disabilities in specialized formats in a timely manner

Joy Zabala, Closing the Gap Conference, 2007.

aims key terms
AIMS: Key terms
  • National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS)
  • NIMAS Center – national repository
  • Chafee Amendment
  • Print disability
  • Organic dysfunction
for further information on accessible instructional materials
For further information on accessible instructional materials:
  • LA-AIM Website www.atanswers.com/aim
  • LA Department of Education web http://www.louisianaschools.net/lde/eia/1538.html
  • National AIM Consortium Web http://aim.cast.org/
  • Bookshare.org
what are core instructional materials
What are “Core Instructional Materials”?
  • Printed textbooks and related printed core materials published with the texts
    • Written and published primarily for use in elementary and secondary school instruction
    • Required by state education agency or local education agency for use by students in the classroom

Joy Zabala, Closing the Gap Conference, 2007.

what are specialized formats
What are “Specialized Formats”?
  • Braille
  • Audio
  • Digital text
  • Large print

Joy Zabala, Closing the Gap Conference, 2007.

iep team responsibilities
IEP Team Responsibilities
  • IEP Team determines if the student needs instructional materials in alternate formats…
    • Examine student’s evaluation information & present levels of achievement
    • determine whether the student has a disability-related difficulty with the task of gaining meaning from print-based core instructional materials used in the content areas
    • determine whether the student needs instructional materials in alternative formats

Adapted from Joy Zabala, Closing the Gap Conference, 2007.

iep team responsibilities45
IEP Team Responsibilities
  • If the IEP determines that the student needs instructional materials in alternate formats, it must…
    • Determine the alternate formats needed by the student
    • Identify instruction, supports, services, and/or training that will be needed by the student and others to use the materials effectively
    • Take steps to obtain and/or prepare alternate formats

Adapted from Joy Zabala, Closing the Gap Conference, 2007.

iep questions
IEP Questions
  • Does the student need core and/or supplemental instructional materials in alternate format, (e.g., digitized text books, Braille test books, text modified to present content through a primary graphic/pictorial mode)?
  • How will you ensure that student receives materials in a timely manner (at the same time as others)?
symbolic levels
Symbolic Levels
  • Symbolic – speaks/has vocabulary of signs/pictures, some sight words, numbers
  • Early Symbolic- beginning to use pictures or symbols to communicate, limited vocabulary
  • Presymbolic- gestures, eye gaze, purposeful moving to object and sounds
  • Awareness - no clear response/objective in communication
  • Adapted from Browder, Wakeman, and Flowers, AERA Presentation, 2007.
adapted alternate materials
Adapted/Alternate Materials
  • Age considerate?
  • Tied to grade level curriculum?
  • Appropriate for student’s learning level (e.g., language complexity, symbolic level)?
  • Matched to accommodation needs (e.g., laminated, page flippers)?
  • Would typical peers feel comfortable using the products (The eye roll test)?
  • Enhance or detract from student dignity?
  • Reflect student interest?
  • Materials be easily replaced if lost or destroyed?
Regular ed teacher require use of similar materials?
  • Peers/gen. ed teachers easily use the materials with the student?
  • Parents understand materials/support use at home?
  • Easily adapted/utilized across curriculum areas and across the day (e.g. a template that can used for different activities)?
  • Did I slide into a “developmental” approach rather than an age-appropriate academic approach?