From Different to Differentiated: Using “Ecological Framework” to Support Personally Relevant Access to General Curriculum for Students with Significant Intellectual Disabilities

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Bree Ann Jimenez, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Language used in the field of special education is important; it can serve to influence both curriculum and placement decisions for students with intellectual disability. Historically, “Functional Curriculum” was used to describe curriculum adaptations necessary for students to access their environment (school and community). However, the term has evolved to mean a separate set of curriculum standards primarily addressing daily life skills for individuals with significant disabilities. An unintended consequence of this term has been to suggest a “different” rather than “differentiated” curriculum for students and, by doing so, suggest the need for separate settings in which to deliver this differently focused curriculum. A recent paper by Hunt, McDonnell, and Crockett (2012) suggests the use of an ecological framework to guide stakeholders to maintain a clear focus on individual student needs as they provide access to general curriculum for this population of students. The authors suggest the term, “Personally Relevant,” as a reference to curriculum adaptations made within the ecological framework to both access grade-appropriate curriculum and receive individualized support. This change—from Functional to Personally Relevant—promotes inclusive practices by signalling common curriculum that is differentiated, not different, for students with significant intellectual disability.

Additional Information

Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 38(2), 117-119
Language: English
Date: 2013
general curriculum access, inclusion, severe disability, intellectual disability, language, terminology

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