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Seven Reasons to Promote Standards-Based Instruction for Students with Severe Disabilities: A Reply to Ayres, Lowrey, Douglas, & Sievers (2011)

Ginevra Courtade, Fred Spooner, Diane Browder and Bree Jimenez


Abstract: This article was written as a response to Ayres, Lowrey, Douglas, and Sievers (2011) who commented on the degree to which promoting the teaching of functional skills had a higher probability of leading to a more independent life for students with severe disabilities. In doing so, the authors take issue with the use of a standards-based curriculum and suggest that working on grade-level content seizes time that could be allocated to teaching skills for adult life. We suggest that a standards-based curriculum affords students with severe disabilities a complete educational opportunity and need not preclude personally relevant instruction. In our rejoinder, we first describe our points of agreement (evolving curriculum, contribution of research on teaching functional skills, dismal transition outcomes), and then suggest seven reasons why a standards-based curriculum is appropriate. Our reasons include: (a) right to a full educational opportunity, (b) relevancy of a standards-based curriculum (c) unknown potential of students with severe disabilities, (d) functional skills are not a prerequisite to academic skills, (e) standards-based curriculum is not a replacement for functional curriculum, (f) individualized curriculum is limited when it is the only curriculum, and (g) students creating their own changing expectations through achievements.

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Volume 53(3) September 2018

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