Questions and Answers

  • 1. What is the definition of Special Education?

    The definition of Special Education is Specially Designed Instruction that is designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability provided at no cost to the parents in a variety of locations that includes instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals, institutions, and in other settings.  Special Education is not a place, it is services and support (IDEA, 2004).

    Specially Designed Instruction is defined as adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of the child that result from the child's disability to ensure that he child has access to the general curriculum so that the child can meet the educational standards applicable to all children (IDEA, 2004).


    2. What is the Curriculum?

    There is not just one definition of curriculum and many do exist.  In 1980, Pratt defined curriculum as “A written document that systematically describes goals planned, objectives, content, learning activities, evaluation procedures and so forth”.  Tanner (1980) defined curriculum as “Planned and guided learning experiences and intended outcomes, formulated through the systematic reconstruction of knowledge and experiences under the auspices of the school, for the learners’ continuous and willful growth in personal social competence”.  Hass (1987) defined curriculum as “All of the experiences that individual learners have in a program of education whose purpose is to achieve broad goals and related specific objectives, which is planned in terms of a framework of theory and research or past and present professional practice”.  In 1995, Bredekamp and Rosegrant defined curriculum as an organized framework that delineates the content that children are to learn, the processes through which children achieve the identified curriculum goals, what teachers do to help children achieve these goals, and the context in which teaching and learning occur.


    More recently, Baldanza (2016) defined curriculum as a structured set of learning outcomes for a prescribed course of study. The state standards do not tell us how to teach and do not tell us how to test students. The state standards tell us what is expected from every student at each grade level, even where there isn’t a test.


    In the area of special education, sometimes the term general curriculum is used.  The general curriculum is defined as the same curriculum as established for students without disabilities (Agran, Alper, & Wehmeyer, 2002).  The general curriculum is often referred to as simply the Curriculum.   


    The school board of the school district “approves the curriculum, programs and policies of the district” (Kansas Association of School Boards [KASB], 2018, p. 11).  According to the KASB (2018), “the board of education determines broad policies regarding the curriculum and textbook adoption, provides instructional materials and equipment (including technology)” (p. 44).


    It is important to remember that the school board of the school district approves one curriculum that applies to all students.  There is no separate curriculum for students with disabilities.  Students with disabilities must have beneficial access to the general curriculum, not a separate special curriculum (Gartner & Lipsky, 2007, p. 6).


    “In 1997, and again in 2004, changes were made to the IEP provisions in IDEA that require specific attention to providing an individual student with a disability access to the general education curriculum.  This requirement exists regardless of the setting in which the student will receive special education and related services” (Nolet & McLaughlin, 2005, p. 3). 


    3. How is the Curriculum communicated?



    What are Instructional Materials?

    What is Unique Learning System Resources?

    Is Unique the only Instructional Material that I can use to teach with?

    How do I know which standards the Unique lesson is aligned to?

    General Education Elementary Teachers received iPads, do I get one?