To see the rest of the list so far, click here.
That brings us to #7 in our list of 12! Entry number 7 is….curriculum. This has changed a bit in the last few years with NCLB, but a few years ago I would ask training audiences what curriculum they were using. Many of them would tell me that the IEP was their curriculum. Others couldn’t tell me what their curriculum was. The main point of this post is to talk about the role of curriculum in the classroom. The IEP is the individualized education program…it’s NOT the curriculum. A curriculum is a scope and sequence that tells you what to teach based on previous skills mastered. It is typically norm based in some way and based on a scaffolding of skills. The IEP may contain elements of the curriculum, but generally the curriculum is broader than the IEP and is taught in addition to the individual goals set for the student. With NCLB, students are now required to make progress on the general education curriculum. For students with complex educational needs, the curriculum is usually alternative or extended standards or a modification of the general standards. For higher functioning students they typically are working on the general education curriculum with accommodations that don’t change the content of the objectives but change the way they are presented. There are typically lots of different curricula used for individual subjects like reading and math. However, I want to focus more on general curricula that are often used for students on the spectrum that can be used to teach more general skills.
- Make sure that the curriculum assessment, particularly the initial assessment, is done through observation and not by caregiver report. If caregiver report is all that is available, try to elicit and observe the behaviors yourself to assess the accuracy. One of the things that I like about the Unique is that the student actually completes the assessment and some of them can be done by the student on the computer.
- Make sure to re-administer or update them about 3-4 times per year to assess students’ progress. However, this shouldn’t take the place of regular data collection on the skills being taught.
- Make sure that the curriculum you are using meets both the needs and the age of the students you are working with. There are few functional curricula out there that are complete curricula. I’ve had some initial experience with the LINKS noted above. Jim Partington, who developed the ABLLS-R, and Michael Mueller have developed a functional curriculum assessment. I’ve looked at it but not extensively, so it might be worth checking out. It’s called the Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS) and you can see samples on their website.