5 IEP CURRICULUMS #1-Core & #2-Extracurricular


Surprise, surprise, its not just reading, writing and arithmetic that we address in the IEP. The purpose of the IEP is to come up with a plan that will allow the child to access all of their education. That means that  the accommodations and modifications that can be associated with an IEP must also address non academic issues that get in the way of learning. Today's focus is on academics and the core curriculum as well as the extracurricular, recreational, and leisure skills that provide a fuller more satisfying life style. The 5 Curriculums are:

1) Core Curriculum

2) Extracurricular and non-academic activity skills as well as recreation and leisure skills

3) Expanded curriculum / Disability specific curriculums /and independent functional skills across environments

4) Assistive technology devices/ services and curriculum

5) Behavioral curriculum

 General Education or Core Curriculum

The Core curriculum is one of only 5 Curriculums that may be included in the IEP.

The general education curriculum or core curriculum is the State Department of Education or School District approved subject matter provided to children without disabilities and the basic intellectual competencies, associated concepts, skills and perspectives, and specified student outcomes that they are expected to develop and independently apply, rather than a list of specific courses and course content.

  • Areas of educational curriculum often include:
  • Communication/ language arts
  • Mathematics
  • Natural Sciences
  • History
  • Humanities
  • Visual and Performing Arts
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Institutionally Designated Options/

These curriculums are often on the school district’s or states websites for review, for each grade. They address broad and multiple perspectives on the student’s relationship to the larger society and world and help the child understand the responsibilities of living in a culturally and ethnically diversified world. It includes objectives to:

  1. Develop a capacity to use knowledge
  2. Develop aesthetic judgments
  3. Develop ethical behaviors
  4. Integrate knowledge
  5. Recognize the importance of maintaining health and wellness
  6. Understand how technology and science affects their lives
  7. Understand political, economic, and social aspects of life
  8. Understand the interrelationships of the academic disciplines
  9. Understand ways in which to be a responsible member of society, and
  10. Use of logical reasoning in problem solving.

 All IEPs reference the Core Curriculum to address THE CLOSING OF THE EDUCATIONAL GAP between the baselines of the child with a disability and their peers.  It does NOT matter how severe their disabilities are because through differentiated instruction in a "core curriculum" class a child with a disability can be included.

Extracurricular and

Nonacademic Activity Curriculum

Extracurricular activities and nonacademic activities are school activities that are not part of the general curriculum.

  • After-school programs
  • Assemblies
  • Band or choir
  • Field trips
  • Lunch, recess
  • School clubs
  • School dances /parties
  • School sports
    • Tryouts, practice or games
  • Health accommodations or medication management while the student participates.

Check your IEP and make sure that it specifies

  • Discuss what other modifications have to be provided?
  • Document how and when the student will be involved.
  • Is it listed under areas of NEED – socialization skills
  • Is the student's involvement required in order for the student to receive FAPE
  • Students are entitled only to the same opportunity as their nondisabled peers.
  • Students with disabilities have the right to try out but they must meet the essential requirements for the team or activity and are not guaranteed participation
  • Supervising staff members in activities should be involved in the decision-making at the IEP meeting but decisions are made by the IEP team - not the coach alone.

GAO Report, Students with Disabilities: More Info. and Guidance Could Improve Opportunities in PE and Athletics, GAO- 10-519, noted that the percentage of IDEA students who participated in “traditional” school-based extracurricular athletics (that is, athletics not specially designed for students with disabilities) ranged from 6 to 25 percent while other students participated at a much higher rate.


IDEA 2004

AN IEP MUST INCLUDE a statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services to be provided to the child and a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided for the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities. 20 USC § 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(IV)(bb); and 34 CFR § 300.320(a)(4)(ii).


FAPE- FREE APPROPRIATE PUBLIC EDUCATION - state eligibility for federal funding:

  • Each public agency must take steps, including the provision of supplementary aids and services determined appropriate and necessary by the child's IEP team, to provide nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities in the manner necessary to afford children with disabilities an equal opportunity for participation in those services and activities.
  • Nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities may include:
    • Counseling services,
    • Athletics,
    • Transportation,
    • Health services,
    • Recreational activities,
    • Special interest groups or clubs sponsored by the public agency,
    • Referrals to agencies that provide assistance to individuals with disabilities, and
    • Employment of students, including both employment by the public agency and assistance in making outside employment available. 107



In providing or arranging for the provision of nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, including meals, recess periods, and the services and activities set forth in § 300.107, each public agency must ensure that each child with a disability participates with non-disabled children in the extracurricular services and activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of that child. The public agency must ensure that each child with a disability has the supplementary aids and services determined by the child's IEP Team to be appropriate and necessary for the child to participate in nonacademic settings.  300.117,



Nonacademic services. (a) General. (1) A recipient to which this subpart applies shall provide non-academic and extracurricular services and activities in such manner as is necessary to afford handicapped students an equal opportunity for participation in such services and activities.

 34 CFR § 104.37


Physical education and athletics.

  • In providing physical education courses and athletics and similar aid, benefits, or services to any of its students, a recipient to which this subpart applies may not discriminate on the basis of handicap. A recipient that offers physical education courses or that operates or sponsors interscholastic, club, or intramural athletics shall provide to qualified handicapped students an equal opportunity for participation. 34 CFR § 104.37(c)(1)


  • A recipient may offer to handicapped students physical education and athletic activities that are separate or different from those offered to non-handicapped students only if separation or differentiation is consistent with the requirements of § 104.34 and only if no qualified handicapped student is denied the opportunity to compete for teams or to participate in courses that are not separate or different. 34 CFR § 104.37(c)(2)


This is the second of 3 blogs addressing the 5 curriculums within the IEP.  Make sure you SUBSCRIBE to the blog so you do not miss any of them.

Next on the Agenda

#3  Expanded / Functional Curriculum

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Marie Lewis is an author, consultant, and national speaker on best practices in education advocacy. She is a parent of 3 children and a Disability Case Manager, Board Certified Education Advocate, and Behavior Specialist Consultant. She has assisted in the development of thousands of IEPs nationally and consults on developing appropriately individualized IEPs that are outcome based vs just legally sufficient. She brings a great depth of expertise, practical experience, and compassion to her work as well as expert insight, vision, and systemic thinking. She is passionate and funny and she always inspires and informs.


MJ Gore has an MEd in counseling and a degree in elementary education and natural sciences. She worked as a life-skills and learning support teacher She has been honored with the receipt of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. She is the Director and on the faculty at the National Special Education Advocacy Institute. Her passion is social justice, especially in the area of education. She is a Board Certified Education Advocate who teaches professional advocates, educators, and clinicians the best practices in education advocacy.

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