Special Education M.A.

Year Approved


First Advisor

Silmser, Lisa


Students with significant disabilities are continually placed in restrictive settings with a focus on functional and life skills becoming more excluded from their peers in the general education setting. This limits their access to the general education curriculum, requirements of No Child Left Behind (NCLD, 2002), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004), and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA, 2015). These mandates expect all students with disabilities to make progress on the grade-level content standards. They fail to explain to education professionals how they are to be implemented for students with significant disabilities. By defining the type of students who are classified as having a significant disability and understanding the general education curriculum setting, we can clarify what is expected and perceived by educators to apply these mandates. Teachers remark all students, including those with significant disabilities, should be taught in the general education classroom to receive access to the general education curriculum standards. These educators also share concerns of how access comes into daily practice and instruction. There are strategies, such as pre-teacher programs, Universal Design for Learning, collaboration, and modifications to the curriculum. The Beyond Access Model, The Self-Determination Model, and Dynamic Learning Maps as specific programs to provide structured models to assist educators in helping students work toward their grade level standards. All of these systems help general and special education teachers to work together to see access come to life for students with significant disabilities in their classrooms.

Degree Name

Special Education M.A.

Document Type

Masterʼs thesis