04 SES 06 B, Coaching, Professional Development and Inclusive Education
All Australian children and adolescents have the right to an education. While the majority of school-aged persons receive an education program that prepares them for adult life and access to their society, there are some groups of students who continue to face barriers to accessing a relevant, dignified and robust education program that prepares them in the same way. Students with disability and additional learning needs are one such group.
Curriculum is a key feature of education programs within the text of the Australian Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the associated Disability Standards for Education 2005. What it means to provide access to the curriculum for students with disability has been debated in the literature (e.g., Kauffman, 1999; Jorgensen, 2005; Kurth et al., 2015; Rydnak, Moore, Orlando, & Delano, 2008-2009; Spooner & Browder, 2015). These debates highlight a number of tensions, including what it is to “access”, access for whom, the principles of inclusion, and accountability. In much of this debate, the structure of the structure curriculum is given little emphasis.
The Review of the Australian Curriculum (2014) highlighted these ongoing tensions that exist within the Australian context about providing students with disability with access to quality education programs on the same basis as their non-disabled peers. A key concern expressed by key stakeholders within the field of special education was that the Australian Curriculum did not provide opportunities for students with extensive education needs access to quality education programs. An alternative proposed were curriculum based on progress through developmental milestones.
In response to the review of the Australian Curriculum, the Australian Curriculum Reporting and Assessment Authority has called for research into a range of approaches to enacting the Australian Curriculum that provides access to students with extensive support needs. Ryndak et al. (2008-2009) defines access in terms of content, context, high expectations, and accountability. Each of these components while important by itself, are also interdependent on each other. To provide an education programs in a segregated context is lowers expectations for students; not providing access to the same curriculum outcomes does not allow for progress to be examined on the same basis as others (Cumming & Dickson, 2013; Davies, 2012).
This paper seeks to explore how access to the curriculum for students with extensive supports needs could be achieved within the Australian Curriculum. The Australian Curriculum comprises a three dimensional structure. It is propopsed that this structure provides the basis for designing education programs based on content drawn from age appropriate levels, can be delivered in regular school contexts, maintains high expectations, and allows for accountability of progress on the same basis as other students.
Cumming, J., Dickson, E. (2013). Educational accountability tests, social and legal inclusion approaches to discrimination for students with disability: A national case study from Australia. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice, 20, 221-239. Davies, M. (2012). Accessibility to NAPLAN assessment for students with disabilities: A ‘fair’go’. Australian Journal of Special Education, 36, 62-78. Kauffman, J. (1999). Commentary: Today’s special education and its messages for tomorrow. Journal of Special Education, 32, 244-254. Jorgensen, C. (2005). The least dangerous assumption: The challenge to create a new paradigm. Disability Solutions, 3(6), 1-15. Kurth, J., Lyon, K., & Shogren K. (2015). Supports provided to students with severe disabilities in inclusive schools: Lesson learned from schools implementing inclusive practices. Research and Practices for Persons with Severe Disabilities. DOI: 10.1177/1540796915594160 Rydnak, D., Moore, M., Orlando, A., & Delano, M. (2008-2009). Access to the general curriculum: The mandate and role of context in research-based practice for students with extensive support needs. Research & Practice for Person with Severe Disabilities, 33, 199-213. Spooner, F., & Browder, D. (2015). Raising the bar: Significant advances and future needs for promoting learning for students with severe disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 36, 28-32.
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