Unit 4: Secondary Level and Pre-vocational

4.1 Curriculum domains relevant for secondary level - Curriculum transaction – personal, social, academic, occupational and recreational at secondary and at pre-vocational level

4.2 Curriculum domains relevant for pre-vocational level - Curriculum transaction – personal, social, academic, occupational and recreational at secondary and at pre-vocational level

4.3 Community based curriculum.

4.4 Curriculum adaptation to inclusive settings

4.5 Evaluating curricular outcomes




4.1 Curriculum domains relevant for secondary level - Curriculum transaction – personal, social, academic, occupational and recreational at secondary and at pre-vocational level

Children between the ages of 10 to 13 or 14 years are grouped under secondary level. Once the primary group of children achieve 80% of the curriculum content in the primary level, they can be promoted to secondary level. In case of children with low ability the teachers have to continue teaching in those tasks which the students have not achieved. They are grouped as Primary II. Though the same domains/.core areas as in the primary level are included in curriculum at secondary level, the content and complexity of the activities is increased keeping in mind the learning characteristics of children at this level. This is also noticed in general education. For example, in every class, students have to study the subjects English, regional language, Hindi, mathematics, science and social studies/environmental science. The complexity of content in each subject is increased in every class keeping in mind the learning characteristics of children. Similarly, for children with mental retardation also, the curriculum content in each domain/core area is the extension of curriculum at primary level.

Personal skills
With systematic planning and teaching, the high ability group of children with mental retardation learn to eat and drink, dress, brush and bathe on their own by the time they reach secondary level. However, some of them may require minimum assistance in bathing and dressing. At this level the following curriculum content needs to be covered as an extension of primary curriculum.

The curriculum content should cover activities such as eating of different types of breakfast items and sweets appropriately (eg. Eating gulab jamon/rasagulla/payasam with spoon, taking a small piece of chapatti with right hand and taking a small quantity of curry/dal and eating), showing appropriate eating/table manners when children participate in social functions and cafeteria, carrying water, filing water in bottles, folding manageable clothes, bed covers/sheets, cutting pictures, pasting, folding papers and inserting them into covers and the other routine activities. Never underestimate student’s ability. Expose him to various activities and assist in learning.

Social skills
To be accepted as a member of the group and part of the community, one needs to have smooth interpersonal relationships for which adequate language and communications skills are required. Often children with mental retardation fail to interact with groups meaningfully in an acceptable manner. It is observed that most of the children with mental retardation have limited vocabulary and have difficulty in speaking in sentences, understanding and following instructions and narrating incidents in a sequence. Various activities should be planned to develop these skills at secondary level.

Acceptable behaviour towards persons of opposite sex needs to be taught subtly and constantly during social situation at this state. Do’s and dont’s should be clearly specified to avoid embarrassment. This training should be continued into prevocational stage also.

Occupational skills
At this level the children start helping parents/family members in many of the household activities. Performing these activities require application of functional reading, writing and arithmetic skills. For example, when the student is asked to measure two cups of rice, he should have learned counting as a part of number skills which he applies while performing the activity. In case of low ability children (Primary II – 7-14 years, Prevocational-II – 15-18 years) measuring of two cups of rice can be an activity for teaching counting. Identifying and reading labels on edible items/writing a shopping list are other examples. Similarly activities such as washing clothes, moping floor, wiping, storing, or packing requires knowledge of functional academics and fine motor skills.

4.2 Curriculum domains relevant for pre-vocational level - Curriculum transaction – personal, social, academic, occupational and recreational at secondary and at pre-vocational level

Students with mental retardation within the age range of 15 to 18 years belong to prevocational group. At prevocational level children are of two different groups - prevocational-I (high ability group) and prevocational-II (low ability group) as discussed earlier. However, the major focus of curriculum at this level is to prepare students to acquire skills which prepare them to live independently as far as possible. Independence implies personal, social and occupational independence. Hence, much stress is given on a more functional curriculum. As it is a preparatory stage for the future of the young people with mental retardation, most of the training emphasis is application oriented and should include training in natural environments. The curriculum is naturally the extension of secondary level curriculum.

Personal skills
The extension of secondary level curriculum under each domain is discussed below.

Once the child learns eating and drinking by self, the skills can be further extended to make them a part of independent living skills.

Generally, when the child grows older, we do not provide glass of water to him/her, rather we expect him/her to get water from the filter, refrigerator or pot and drink on his own. Children with mental retardation also are expected to learn all these skills. In the school, teacher can train the students to:

In order to practice and maintain the learnt skills, these activities should be carried out at home. Family members can be informed to carry out the activities at home.
By regular practice at home and in school these activities can be made as part of routine activities of the students during pre-vocational period.

In addition to self-feeding, eating behaviour includes
(a) appropriate manners while eating, (b) serving food to others; (c) arranging table (d) cleaning the table, (e) storing the left over food, (f) cleaning the utensils, (g) giving order for food at restaurant, etc.

Parents can be informed to train the students at home in serving food for self as well as for others. While training, the sequence in serving can be:

During the initial stage of training, unbreakable bowls may be used to avoid possibility of damage of the utensil.

Students should also be taught to clean the utensils. Begin with, simple dishes like plates and small bowls (unbreakable) can be used.

Points to remember while teaching washing utensils:


The students with mental retardation need to learn how to maintain their own clothes. This includes:

In the school, the teacher can train the prevocational group students by instructing them to: ? Keep the dress neat (by using napkins for wiping).

Students during prevocational period should also be taught to select their clothes, for themselves. Hence, the family members can be informed to give them opportunity to:

In class, initiative conversation on above topics and elicit responses from the students.

Social skills
Social behaviour of the students plays a vital role in their vocational habilitation. Limitations in social skills of the disabled students form the major barrier in the process of integration. During the pre-vocational stage, students are expected to behave appropriately in different settings, use public places appropriately, be able to seek permission for using belongings of others and should be able to participate in social functions independently. All these behaviours require student’s competency in language and communication.

In school, focus on:

Home activities can include:

In addition to developing appropriate social behaviours, we have to reduce the socially inappropriate behaviour through behaviour management techniques.

Menstrual hygiene

An important skill to be taught to the girls with mental retardation during secondary/prevocational level is menstrual hygiene. To make the girl independent (as far as possible) in personal skills, lessen the burden on the mother and avoid embarrassing situation, right type of training can be provided to the young adolescents at home. While providing training on menstrual hygiene, take care of the following points.

While training in menstrual hygiene, instruct the student to -

Proper fine motor skill and eye-hand coordination are important pre-requisite skills for teaching shaving. Following points are to be considered while training.

As the name – “prevocational” indicates, this stage is most important for “preparing the students for suitable vocations”. Through the joint efforts of school and home, appropriate work habits (punctuality, regularity, sincerity, persistence), proper work behaviour, hand functioning, eye hand coordination, and required community living skills (travelling, shopping, banking skills) can be developed in the students.

Eye hand coordination and hand functioning which are important prerequisite skills for any vocation can be improved by:

In the school, engage the students in various simulated activities to assess the interests of the student.

Teach various community living skills by organizing following activities for students –

Parents can be instructed to follow a daily activity schedule for their child (with disability) at home. Depending on the improvement in various skills, the activities can be increased. This schedule will help to discipline the students behaviour and improve work habits in them. While selecting the activities for the students, the socio-cultural factors, socio-economic status, sex and abilities of the students need to be considered.

Domestic skills:
Under domestic skills the prevocational group of students can be taught housekeeping skills by involving them in the domestic activities like:

While involving the students in cooking proceed form simple to complex task.

Before teaching the students to light the stove they should be taught to switch off the stove. To begin training in cooking activities the mother/family members should be near the student throughout the training period and should give necessary physical and verbal assistance. Of course, for many of the cooking activities, (preparing idly, dosa, tea, coffee, etc.) the students need to learn functional academics (measurement) which is discussed in detail in part II of this unit.

Recreation skills:
Like us, persons with disabilities also require time for recreation. Many a time, they are unable to decide the activities for their recreation.

At school, fix a particular time for recreational activities when students can be given opportunity to participate in various activities like:

Family members can involve students in:


4.3 Community based curriculum.

Community and vocational-based learning is vital to students in transitional special education. Community work experiences give students opportunities to be exposed to social situations and natural contingencies that are not available in schools. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) of 1990 was legislation that mandated public school development of a statement of needed transition services for students with individual education plans (IEPs) age sixteen or older.

The community-based special education program provides grants for community-based centres to improve educational opportunities, learning outcomes and personal development of children with disability.

Community-based instruction (CBI) is a strategy or instructional method that promotes the teaching and use of academic and functional skills in the student’s natural environment. The setting, as well as the tasks performed in these settings, should be relevant to the student, facilitate independence and be age appropriate. Instruction, materials and activities need to mirror age-appropriate activities used by non-disabled same age peers while being developmentally appropriate for the needs of the student.

CBI, a hands-on learning program located within the community, is a critical component of the education program for students with disabilities, primarily because, as adults, the community is where they will need to use the skills acquired during their school years. Trips to community locations occur concurrently with classroom instruction. Although students may initially learn and practice a skill in the classroom, they will eventually practice the skill by applying it in a home or community setting. For example, a student who learns math skills in the classroom may later practice those skills during a shopping expedition.

A critical component of CBI is the involvement of parents and other members of the community such as businesses, teachers and local establishments. The expectation is that students with disabilities will live, work, shop and play in integrated, natural environments in the community and that they will participate, independently or with accommodations and supports, in life’s activities across a variety of settings.

The core of any CBI program must be directly related to the areas that prepare students to function in their community: domestic, vocational, recreation and leisure; and accessing community resources. These areas, described as domains, are described more thoroughly below.

The domestic domain (self-management/home living/daily living) includes several areas, such as the following:

The vocational domain covers the following areas:

The recreation/leisure domain includes the following types of activities:

The community domain addresses many different areas that relate to the quality of life, including access to community resources, such as the following:

When determining what community skills are to be taught and where they should be taught, teachers and parents must consider several factors, such as age appropriateness of the skills and their relationship to activities of nondisabled peers. The student’s individual learning style is also an important factor to be considered.

The first goal of CBI is to teach students to function as independently as possible in as many community environments as possible to enhance their quality of life. Through CBI, students learn skills that are identified both on the individual educational plan (IEP) and in the curricula. The second goal is to provide students with expanded options regarding independent or supported living, employment and leisure time activities. Some of the benefits of implementing a CBI program are listed below:

Community-based instruction benefits students, parents and caregivers, educational staff and the community. Some of the benefits, many of which were identified by the Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project (n.d.), include:


4.4 Curriculum adaptation to inclusive settings

Inclusion is “a process of addressing and responding to the diversity of needs of all learners through increasing participation in learning, cultures and communities, and from education. It involves changes and modifications in content, approaches, structures and strategies, with a common vision which covers all children of the appropriate age range and a conviction that is the responsibility of the regular system to educate all children.” (UNESCO, 2005) Inclusion is the full acceptance of all students and leads to a sense of belonging within the classroom community. By the practice of educating all children together, children with disabilities have the opportunity to prepare for life in the community, and the same practice also helps the society to make the conscious decision to operate according to the social value of equality. Inclusive education is the best method of promoting wider social acceptance, peace and cooperation.

A strategy describes how the goals will be achieved by the resources. Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve these goals or usually limited. Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals and mobilizing resources to execute the actions.

There are various strategies for curriculum adaptation discussing below

Instructional strategies  

·        Instructional strategies may be defined as instruction in how to learn and perform." Learning strategies help students learn and perform by providing them with a specific steps for:  

·        approaching new and difficult task

·        guiding thoughts and actions

·        completing task in a timely and successful manner

·        thinking strategically

·        Learning strategies may include organizing materials, memorizing information, taking notes, reading text, and taking tests.

Inclusive classroom strategies  

·        While planning the students in regular Classrooms, their age is to be taken consideration rather than their academic level to foster friendship.  

·        The teachers should often evaluate both the groups with the same tasks.  

·        The general students and students with special needs are paired together common assignments to build cooperation.  

·        Games and problem solving make the classes more active.  

·        Curricular, co-curricular and extra - curricular activities are made community oriented.  

·        Giving teaching tasks to the students and helping them become part of learning activity.  

·        If she/he is co-teaching, commit to planning at least once a week with your co-teaching partner and determine your respective teaching responsibilities.

Use a variety of team teaching methods, including  

·        Interactive teaching: Teachers alternate role of presenting, reviewing, and monitoring instruction.  

·        Alternate teaching: One person teaches, reteaches, on enriches a concept for small group, while the other monitors or teach the remaining students.  

·        Parallel teaching: Students are divided into mixedability groups, and each co-teaching partner teaches the same material to one of the groups.  

·        Station teaching: Small group of students rotate to various stations for instructions, review, and/or practice.  

·        Be aware of students needs and provide the accommodation listed in your students individualized education programmers.

UDL (Universal design to learning)

UDL is an approach to designing curriculum including instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessment that are flexible enough to accommodate learner differences. According to Meyer and Rose (2005), “UDL is built on the premise that barriers to learning occur in the interaction with the curriculum they are not inherent solely in the capacity of the learner. UDL represents a shift in how educators look at learner differences. It emphasizes the need for a curriculum that can adapt to student needs for a curriculum that can adapt to student needs rather than requiring learners to adapt to an inflexible curriculum.” The UDL is increasingly drawing the attention of researchers and educators as an effective solution for filling the gap between learner ability and individual differences. UDL framework can be used to proactively design lessons that address learner variability. Using UDL guidelines, teachers can integrate flexible options and supports that ensure that standards – based lessons are accessible to a range of learners in their classrooms. To understand what UDL is, it helps to understand what it’s not. The goal of UDL is to use a variety of teaching methods to remove any barriers to learning and give all students equal opportunities to succeed. It’s about building in flexibility that can be adjusted for every student’s strengths and needs. Teachers can create a more nurturing, equitable and inclusive space by using different strategies. These includes the 3 major principles / guidelines such as: first one is Engagement: which is for purposeful, motivated learners, stimulate interest and motivation for learning, Second one is Representation: for resourceful, knowledgeable learners, present information and content in different ways, Third one is Action & Expression: For strategic, goal – directed learners, differentiate the ways that students can express what they know as well as reflecting diversity in teaching and supporting the social justice goals of fellow teachers. So it is to improve and optimize teaching and learning for all people based on scientific insights in to how humans learn. It capitalizes in new technologies and electronic devices and provide a new way of looking at students with disabilities.

4.5 Evaluating curricular outcomes

Evaluation is an essential beginning step in the special education process for a child with a disability. Before a child can receive special education and related services for the first time, a full and individual initial evaluation of the child must be conducted to see if the child has a disability and is eligible for special education. Informed parent consent must be obtained before this evaluation may be conducted.

The evaluation process is guided by requirements in our nation’s special education law, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

General Evaluation Techniques for CWSN

·        Extra time may be provided, as per the needs of the child. Breaks may be allowed during this time to counter fatigue

·        Use of devices to be allowed as per the individual needs of the child e.g. calculators, abacus, Brailler, Taylor Frame communication board, slant boards, pencil/ pen grips etc.

·        Use of technology e.g. computers, tape recorders, voice synthesizers to be allowed as per the needs of the child

·        Flexibility in syllabus allocated for testing. For example, if the child is learning at a slower pace, s/he may be tested on smaller units of content rather than the whole syllabus at one time

·        Assessment procedures may include objective type questions, instead of essay type questions for children with difficulties in language acquisition, questions to be modified e.g. simple language

·        Accommodations are to be provided in the area of response methods. Example, oral responses instead of written (can be taped) or amanuensis to write down answers, which would be given orally or through a communication board

·        Instructions and questions to be read out to student when needed

·        Braille and print size to be enlarged according to needs of students

·        Suitable posture and seating arrangement to be made by providing adapted chair/table and separate room, if required

·        Timing of evaluation may be necessary, where children are on specific regular medication.

·        Disabilities which have language acquisition problems may be exempted from the 3-language formula. Sign language can also be provided as an option.