Alternate curricula as a barrier to inclusive education for students with intellectual disabilities

Amy Hanreddy, Daniel Östlund

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


Although intellectual disability is a culturally defined and often fluid concept, individuals with this label are often at the greatest risk of isolationand low expectations, particularly within school environments. Despite institutional narratives on educating and raising expectations for “all”students, the use of alternate curricula for individuals with intellectual disabilities creates a structural barrier that explicitly designates studentsas incapable of using the same curriculum as nondisabled peers. Through exemplars in the United States and Sweden, the authors argue theuse and expansion of alternate curricula is an international trend with troubling short- and long-term consequences for students. In Sweden, anational alternative curriculum is required for all students with intellectual disabilities. In the United States, adoption of alternate achievementstandards varies by state; yet, the use of alternate curricular materials in self-contained classrooms is widespread despite questionable alignmentto general education standards. In addition to the challenges posed by a separate curriculum for students with intellectual disabilities,approaches to promoting authentic engagement and learning in the context of general education settings and curricula are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)235-247
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Electronic Journal of Elementary Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Swedish Standard Keywords

  • Educational Sciences (503)


  • Alternate Curricula
  • Curriculum Access
  • Inclusive Education
  • Intellectual Disabilities


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