Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

The Expanded Core Curriculum: Where We Have Been, Where We Are Going, and How We Can Get There

Academic journal article Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness

The Expanded Core Curriculum: Where We Have Been, Where We Are Going, and How We Can Get There

Article excerpt

Abstract: Although teachers consider the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) critical for students' success, they do not provide their students adequate instruction based on principles of the ECC. A minimum level of competence for assessment and instruction in the ECC should be established for novice teachers. Personnel preparation programs should evaluate how to prepare teachers better to implement the ECC, and professionals should commit themselves to teaching the ECC in a way that ensures their students' success.

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First formulated by Hatlen (1996), the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC) refers to the generally accepted nine areas of instruction that children and youths with visual impairments (both those who are blind and those with low vision), including those with additional impairments, need to be successful in school, the community, and the workplace. The framework of the ECC gives service providers and parents a common language and understanding for structuring assessments and planning educational programs. This article describes the evolution of the ECC and articulates the nine areas of the ECC. A summary of research on the current state of instruction based on the ECC in the United States is provided, along with recommendations for improving the implementation of the ECC in classrooms.

A brief history

Throughout the history of educating students with visual impairments, teachers have realized that the amount of instruction these students need is greater than the traditional reading, writing, and arithmetic curricula. Samuel Gridley Howe, who established the first U.S. residential school for children who are blind in 1829, believed that although these children should adhere closely to the public school curriculum, they must also be educated on the basis of their individual interests and abilities (Hatlen, 2000). More recently, the Division on Visual Impairments of the Council for Exceptional Children adopted revisions to two position papers on the role and function of the teacher of students with visual impairments. In one paper, Ferrell and Spungin (2007) identified areas of instruction in which teachers should be proficient, and in the other paper, Silberman and Sacks (2007) described additional areas of expertise that teachers need when working with students with visual impairments and additional disabilities. These detailed position papers provide an excellent guide for personnel preparation programs that are planning their course work, for teachers who are identifying areas in which they need to improve their skills, and for administrators who are evaluating teachers' abilities.

Documents in the United States and abroad support the need for students to receive an education that meets their unique needs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) states that in addition to addressing academic achievement, Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) must address students' functional performance and must meet each of the students' other educational needs that result from their disabilities. Although the ECC is not explicitly mentioned, the reauthorization clearly supports the provision of instruction in all the areas of the ECC, since these are functional and educational needs that result from a disability. International support for specialized instruction is found in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (United Nations, 1990, p. 29.1.a), which states that every child has the right to an education "directed to the development of the child's personality, talents, and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential." The Convention on the Rights of the Child has been ratified by 193 countries, indicating its worldwide acceptance.

The ECC

The ECC proposes that instruction for students with visual impairments should include all the traditional areas of academic instruction and instruction in areas that are directly affected by a child's visual impairment. …

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