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Access to the general curriculum for students with significant disabilities: What it means to teachers

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Journal/Book/Conference Title

Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities





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The 1997 amendments to IDEA mandated that individualized education programs of students with disabilities include information about student's participation and progress in the general curriculum. Although there is general agreement with the intent of the access to the general curriculum mandates to ensure that students with disabilities are held to high expectations, receive a challenging curriculum, and are included in the accountability mechanisms being created for all students, there are some concerns as to potential negative effects of unintended consequences from components of school reform efforts, to which the access mandates are linked. One variable that remains unknown, and which can affect the success of the mandates, is the opinion of teachers about this policy direction. The present survey obtained opinions of a sample of teachers on issues relating to access to the general curriculum. The findings suggested that the majority of respondents believed that access is not appropriate for students with severe disabilities and that these students should not be held to the same performance standards as typical peers. Additionally, the study revealed that a number of teachers were not actively involved in planning relating to access, and that almost half of their districts did not have a clear policy on this issue. Implications of these findings to promote student participation in the general curriculum are presented. © Division on Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

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