Alternative Curriculum for Students with Disabilities: Math

When students are not able to access the core general education curriculum without significant modifications, the IEP team can work together to design a more focused alternative curriculum to target their specific needs. To learn more about what’s out there, we asked Dr. Caitlin Solone, education advocate, teacher educator, and faculty at UCLA, to gather some resources to support our kids in developing their math skills. You can find the resources Dr. Solone put together for the first part of this series on English & Language Arts curriculum here.

A pencil lays on top of a white piece of paper with math equations on it.

These days, there is no one ideal system that provides a comprehensive alternative curriculum aligned with Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to students in special education. If it existed, such a curriculum would not only give students access to the general education curriculum, but it would also remove one of the biggest barriers to inclusion.
 
While some general education teachers use the boxed curriculum that is employed in Special Day Classrooms (such as the Unique Learning System, described below), it doesn’t align well with the general education curriculum. Some general education curriculum is structured in a way that lends itself nicely to differentiation, but others simply do not. To get around this problem, many teachers now create their own Common Core–aligned lessons and curriculum, or pull resources aligned with Gen Ed or CCSS from the crowd-sourced, teacher-made Teachers Pay Teachers website. As a result, standardization becomes extremely difficult, and special education teachers and IEP teams are often left to develop their own curriculum.
 
While there are limited grade-level curricula available for students on alternate curriculum, it’s important to know that Core Content Connectors (CCCs) and Essential Understandings (EUs) can be used to help the IEP team determine the necessary skills to teach students. To read more about this, read Dr. Solone’s full introduction to the first part of this series
 
So without further ado, let’s dive into the following list of commonly used programs that are available to support general education teachers in providing all their students with meaningful access (including modifications, accommodations, and extensions) to math curriculum. 

 

IXL Math
info@ixl.com or support@ixl.com
 
Recommended by an educational therapist, IXL helps students learn at their own pace with adaptive questions that automatically adjust to the right level of difficulty. A wide variety of questions keeps practice sessions fresh and enables all types of learners to reach their full potential. Parents can keep track of students’ progress, and learning can be adjusted easily depending on skill level. Choose from a bundle of all core subjects at a monthly or yearly subscription or choose specific subjects such as math. Memberships and subscriptions can be purchased here. IXL’s curriculum also aligns with the California Common Core Content Standards and the California Preschool Learning Foundations. 

 

  • Grade Level: K–12
  • Curriculum Type: Common Core Aligned
  • Use Model: Supplementary
  • Cost: 
    • Single subject: $9.95/month, $79/year
    • All core subjects: $19.95/month, $159/year
  • Platform: iPhone and iPad, Android, and web-based

 

MobyMax
MobyMax’s adaptive curriculum enables teachers to create individualized education plans for students at any level, allowing them to progress at their own pace. MobyMax uses personalized learning to identify learning gaps in all K–8 subjects and reports progress to the teacher. This personalized learning approach is implemented via online adaptive technology. Their curriculum includes a suite of classroom tools with features like diagnostic testing, progress monitoring, assessments, adaptive lessons, and student motivational and communication tools that encourage students to use the program from home. 

Subjects include adaptive math, adaptive science, adaptive social studies, language arts, early reading, reading, phonics, writing, and test prep/review.

  • Grade Level: K–8
  • Curriculum Type: Common Core Aligned
  • Use Model: Supplementary/Intervention
  • Cost:  
    • Home use: Free for 30 days, then $7.99 per child per month
    • School-wide site license: $3,495 per year
    • Single student license: from $4.99 per student per year (request a quote here)

 

TouchMath
(800) 888-9191
info@touchmath.com 
 
TouchMath’s multisensory program makes math engaging and accessible for students of all abilities who struggle to understand content at their grade level. They offer complete instructional programs, motivational computer programs, and classroom aides that allow the student to work at their own pace. Their catalog offers a variety of workbooks, programs, and resources based on individual needs and skill level. Items can be bought individually or in packages. 
 

  • Grade Level: Pre-K–12
  • Curriculum Type: Common Core Aligned 
  • Use Model: Supplementary/Intervention
  • Cost: Varies depending on package; teacher edition workbooks: $35; student pack of 3 workbooks: $85    

 

Shiller Learning Math
(888) 556-MATH
sales@shillerlearning.com  
 
Shiller Learning offers “research-based curricula, music, manipulatives, flashcards, and workbooks” to help kids learn math skills. Their packages include Montessori-based lesson guides, diagnostic tests, parent guides, hands-on materials, and more. Math Kit I is geared toward grades Pre-K to 3 and Math Kit II is meant for grades 4 to 8; both offer virtual options and all their kits can be found here
 

  • Age range: Ages 4–13
  • Curriculum Type: Common Core Aligned
  • Use Model: Supplementary/Intervention or can be used as the general education curriculum in early grades
  • Cost: Virtual math kits are $124.95

 

Unique Learning System 
Unique Learning System is an online standards-based program that provides students with complex learning needs individualized access to the general education curriculum. The curriculum is organized into three different developmental tracks and has age-appropriate curriculum available for the following grade level bands: Pre-K, Elementary (K­–2), Intermediate (3­–5), Middle School (6­–8), High School (9­–12), and Transition. Unique is appropriate for students in Pre-K through age 22 and is intended to meet the developmental needs of all learners through their three-level system. This program is aligned with general education standards and can be implemented in a general education classroom. To learn more about the advantages of this online learning program, you can watch a short informational video that provides samples of daily instruction or see their in-depth brochure.

  • Grade Level: Pre-K–12 and Transition
  • Curriculum Type: Common Core Aligned/Alternate
  • Use Model: Alternate curriculum to be used instead of general education curriculum (in special education classroom or general education classroom)
  • Areas of instruction: English/Language Arts/Reading, Math, Science and Social Studies
  • Cost: $582.24 per year 

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