Skip to main content

Access to the General Curriculum for Students with Disabilities: A Brief Legal Interpretation

Policy Brief

Joanne Karger & Chuck Hitchcock


National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum (NCAC)




The meanings of the terms access, involvement, and progress in relation to the general curriculum are defined and clarified. General curriculum is described in IDEA ‘97 as the same curriculum established for students without disabilities. Access to general education exceeds earlier notions of access to special education services and physical access to the school building, and beyond the concepts of mainstreaming and inclusion. Involvement requires that students with disabilities participate in the general education curriculum in an on-going and meaningful way through specification in the IEP of how the student’s disability affects his/her involvement and progress in the general education curriculum, IEP goals, and identification of IEP supplementary aids and services. Progress in the general curriculum requires the IEP to indicate the manner in which progress toward IEP goals will be measured, participation in state and district wide assessments, and developed performance goals and indicators. These requirements have the potential to lead to improved educational opportunities and outcomes for students with disabilities.

Download the Policy Brief

Cite As

Karger, J., & Hitchcock, C. (2003). Access to the general curriculum for students with disabilities: A brief legal interpretation. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved [insert date] from

Top of Page