Undivided: What is Modified Curriculum for Special Education

3 of Your Biggest Questions About Modified and Alternate Curriculum Answered

Event Recap
Feb. 22, 2022Updated Feb. 2, 2023
Many districts push families toward an “alternate curriculum” when students are as young as second grade (or younger!). But what is it, exactly, and when do curriculum modifications in an IEP amount to an alternate curriculum? Does curriculum modification or an alternate assessment put your child on a certificate rather than a diploma track? How do alternate assessments or modified curriculums fit into the new pathways to a diploma that are opening up for students with disabilities? We talked to Dr. Caitlin Solone (education advocate, teacher-educator, and Academic Administrator for the Disability Studies program at UCLA) during our Facebook Live event on February 10, 2022, about the questions parents should ask when it comes to alternate and modified curriculum. Here are the top takeaways from our discussion!

What does alternate or modified curriculum look like?

Dr. Solone says that ideally, modified curriculum gives a child with significant support needs access to the same academic standards as their peers but at their developmental level. Watch this clip for some great examples of what this could look like in a classroom:

How can parents approach IEP goals with alternate or modified curriculum?

With so many grade-level standards to keep track of, it's easy for parents to get overwhelmed when developing IEP goals to help their children meet those standards. Dr. Solone advises parents working with their IEP team to focus on the most important skills their children will learn. Check out this clip for some examples of what that looks like in practice:

How can we make inclusion work for kids who need a modified curriculum?

Some schools handle inclusion very well, but the reality is that many special education classrooms have no curriculum (they are usually either skills-based or goal-oriented), and many districts are not properly trained to provide a meaningful, standards-based modified curriculum. So, how can we make inclusion work for students who require a modified curriculum? Hear Dr. Solone's answer in this clip.

Dr. Solone gave plenty of other great advice during our live event to help parents understand alternate or modified curriculum and how to address it in their IEPs and in the classroom. If you missed the event or want to review what we learned, you can watch the full recording here!

Alternate routes to getting a high school diploma are also on the horizon in California for students with disabilities. The new work group, "Alternate Pathways to a High School Diploma," is advocating for school districts across the state to only require minimum requirements for graduation.

To learn more about new pathways to a diploma for students with disabilities, go here!




What does alternate or modified curriculum look like?

How can parents approach IEP goals with alternate or modified curriculum?

How can we make inclusion work for kids who need a modified curriculum?

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Related Parent Questions

What does it mean when a student is on a certificate track?
Students working toward a certificate have significant cognitive impairments, take alternative assessments, and are unable to demonstrate subject matter competence in diploma track classes, even with accommodations and modifications.
Can my child opt out of standardized testing?
Generally speaking, if a student with significant cognitive impairment meets eligibility requirements to take alternate state assessments, districts are likely to recommend they do so.
Is it possible to be in general education if you need curriculum modifications?
It is possible to be in a general education class with a modified curriculum. Experts recommend that the student have an inclusion specialist (or a special education teacher) to help ensure that the student has the modifications and accommodations they need to be successful.

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