One of the most common misunderstandings of inclusive education is that all learners need to have the same learning targets and outcomes. A teacher told me recently, “What will he do in earth science? He can’t even read!”
This statement suggests that we can’t address literacy goals in a science classroom and maybe even that we should not “bother” teaching a child with such significant learning differences about land forms and earth history. The teacher who shared this statement may not understand that we can not only teach skills this child has on his IEP during earth science (e.g., using his augmentative communication device, reading, following directions), but that we can do so in the context of rich standards-based instruction. Further, by carefully considering this child’s needs and abilities, we can focus on how to teach him the content that others are studying. Some students, in fact, may not be able to “construct a model of the solar system showing accurate positional relationships and relative distances” but that does not meant the content is inappropriate. The response should be, “How can we teach and assess this content for this student?” Can he possibly succeed in learning one part of it such as constructing a model of the solar system with simple manipulatives? Or can he identify some of the planets?
In this clip from the “You’re Going to Love This Kid” DVD and Professional Development Kit, Sheila Danaher, a veteran Chicago Public School teacher and gifted inclusion facilitator, talks about personalizing standards for students with autism.