Curriculum Standards

Curriculum Standard 1:

The program has an inclusive program of study that aligns with the statutory and regulatory requirements for a Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Program (CTP) in the HEA law and regulations and is consistent with the program’s mission and program outcomes.


An “inclusive program of study” refers to the courses, expectations, and requirements needed to earn the credential awarded by the program and for program completion. It must align with the HEA requirements in the definition of a Comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary (CTP) Program, although it is not necessary to include the HEA language in the inclusive program of study description. An individual student’s course of study within the program will be determined through a person-centered plan.

Various standards cover specific aspects of the CTP program definition. With respect to the inclusion requirements in the CTP program definition, students in the program must be socially and academically integrated with non-disabled students to the maximum extent possible. The program must ensure and document that students meet the minimum 50% inclusion requirements in the HEA, which states that at least half of the students’ time must focus on academic components through one or more of the following:

  1. Coursework with students without disabilities, including taking courses for credit; or auditing (or otherwise participating in courses for which the student does not receive regular, academic credit); or taking non-credit bearing, non-credit courses.

  2. Participating in internships or work-based training in settings with individuals without disabilities

The inclusive program of study describes a list of courses, additional learning experiences (including campus membership, social engagement and independence development activities), and career development and employment activities that make up the requirements that all students must complete to earn the credential.

Students use person-centered planning to choose courses and other learning activities to participate in that support their personal goals, while still meeting the overall requirements of the inclusive program of study. Students complete the number of hours and the range of experiences that are required but have choice within that structure to the greatest extent possible. In the case where they are pursuing a course of study that leads to an industry recognized credential (such as childcare assistant) it is likely that they will need to complete specific, required courses in order to earn the credential.

As indicated in the introduction, this standard applies regardless of whether the US Department of Education (ED) approved the program as a CTP program for financial aid purposes. If ED has approved the program as a CTP program, the program still must provide evidence of meeting this standard. CTP program approval from the ED is not required for the program to be accredited.

Required for Review

  • State the intended program outcomes for the program (broad program goals).

  • Provide a description of the inclusive program of study that includes a clear and detailed outline that illustrates all required activities of the inclusive program of study that leads to a program credential.

  • Provide the program of study description that clearly documents that the students spend at least half-time in courses with students without disabilities, or internships or work-based learning experiences, which may include apprenticeships or paid jobs, in settings with individuals without disabilities.

  • Provide redacted documentation of student schedules that demonstrate that students spend at least 50% of their time in inclusive academic coursework or work-based settings.

Curriculum Standard 2:

The program utilizes and documents a person-centered planning approach that provides for maximum choice for the student within the inclusive program of study.


In the context of inclusive higher education, person-centered planning (PCP) is used as a framework to plan activities, courses, supports, and problem-solving, that include specific goals that serve as an action plan to achieve the student’s vision for their future. Programs may use a variety of planning tools for PCP, and some programs develop their own tools. Visit The Project 10 Transition Education Network to learn more information about PCP and to read descriptions of various PCP planning tools. The PCP should be written in understandable, plain language.

The PCP is a “living document” that is reviewed and, if needed, updated each academic term (e.g., quarter, semester, trimester). A few states have specific requirements regarding PCP for the use of Self-Determination Funds. The PCP requirement in this standard is not intended to duplicate other PCPs the student may be involved in, nor is it intended to create bureaucratic requirements. Rather, the intent is to have the student’s educational experience guided by a student-focused plan with specific goals and action steps that will lead to the student’s vision for their future.

The PCP must include a description of “what works” for the student, including learning strategies, accommodations, and individualized supports and services. There is no expectation or requirement that the PCP be a lengthy document.

Required for Review

  • State the tool or process that is used for person-centered planning.

  • If the program has developed a program-specific planning tool, share that tool.

  • Describe how person-centered planning informs the individual course of study for each student (i.e., how does it inform course selection, employment experiences, or social experiences)

  • State how often the program reviews and updates PCPs.

  • Provide PCP review documentation (such as meeting minutes, emails, presentations) from each academic term with students.

  • Share several completed PCPs, with personal information redacted.

Curriculum Standard 3:

Students with intellectual disabilities (ID) participate in a wide array of postsecondary level courses from multiple disciplines and departmental/college units that are part of the curriculum for degree or certificate programs.


Students must have a wide array of course options to choose from. Limiting students to a few options, such as only physical education courses, is not acceptable.

However, some programs may have a set curriculum that leads to a credential in a specific career, which would by necessity limit choice in terms of academic courses. In those cases, the required curriculum may be used, but the program must still meet the requirements in the law, as outlined in Curriculum Standard 1, that students spend at least 50% of their time in courses with non-disabled students or work settings with non-disabled individuals.

Required for Review

  • If restrictions exist that limit course access for students in the program at the institution, provide the access policy.

  • Provide a list of the college catalog courses that are part of the curriculum for degree or certificate programs that students in the program are or have taken (for credit, audit, or other participation), indicating how many students in the program have taken these courses in the recent past.

  • The list must indicate the course department or discipline. The college catalog courses included in the list must not be “specialized” courses only for students with ID.

  • Share several examples of redacted transcripts that clearly show the college catalog courses the students have taken.

  • If the program uses a set curriculum for a career-specific certificate, provide the curriculum and information about how the students’ participation meets the minimum 50% requirement.

Curriculum Standard 4:

The inclusive program of study is delivered to students physically attending the institution, with some distance learning allowable if it is applicable to and benefits students with ID.


The CTP program definition in the HEA regulations states that the program “(2) Is delivered to students physically attending the institution”. The preamble to the HEA Title IV regulations states “The Department does not wish to regulate to preclude all distance courses for students with intellectual disability and may permit a limited number of courses to be delivered via distance, as long as the institution explains why it believes the course is applicable to, and benefits, students with intellectual disability. Similarly, we wish to clarify that a comprehensive transition and postsecondary program may include an internship for students or other activities that are located off-campus—the physically-attending requirement does not exclude these activities.”

Therefore, the program may offer off-campus learning opportunities, including internships, apprenticeships, or other work experiences. A limited number of courses may be permitted via distance learning, as long as the institution explains why it believes the course is applicable to, and benefits, students with ID. Learning may also include some online aspects of in-person classes.

The requirement limiting distance learning does not apply when the institution of higher education is closed for public health reasons or due to a natural disaster. In such cases, distance learning is allowed, however institutions must still provide social and academic inclusion and individualized supports for students.

Required for Review

  • Indicate if students participate in any distance learning, and if so, detail what percentage of students’ time is spent in distance learning.

  • For any distance-learning courses, indicate why the course is applicable to, and benefits, students in the program.

  • If the institution is or was closed due to a natural disaster or public health reason, indicate how distance learning is occurring and how students are provided social and academic inclusion as well as individualized supports.

Curriculum Standard 5:

The inclusive program of study includes instruction, internships, apprenticeships, or work-based learning, and other career development activities necessary to enable students to achieve and sustain competitive integrated employment (CIE) aligned with person-centered goals.


The instruction and activities must be geared toward enabling the student to achieve CIE, instead of non-work, sheltered work, and/or work at subminimum wage. (See glossary for CIE definition.)

Required for Review

  • Describe the portion of the inclusive program of study related to internships, apprenticeships, work-based learning, or other practices that will enable students to achieve and sustain competitive integrated employment (CIE).

  • Provide a list of internships, volunteer or paid employment, or apprenticeships, and other employment-related instruction and practices provided in the current and previous three years.

  • For a percentage of students, include a sample of internship profiles, including start and end dates, hours worked per week, and documentation of supports provided (e.g., letters of agreement, observations, logs). Explain the process of determining individualized supports (e.g., job coaching) and how those supports are provided in the workplace.

  • Provide data on the employment outcomes of program alumni for the past three years, including data on the number and percentage of students who obtain CIE.

Curriculum Standard 6:

The inclusive program of study includes student engagement in inclusive social experiences and other campus-based activities. Individualized support, instruction, or activities necessary to enhance student social competence must be included in the inclusive program of study.


The program adheres to the HEA requirements that students must receive individual supports and services for academic and social inclusion in academic courses, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of the institution of higher education’s regular postsecondary program. This standard is intended to address how student engagement is a part of the inclusive program of study, not just what students are allowed to do or access.

The standard also addresses the requirement that each student’s person-centered plan must provide and guide individualized support for active campus membership, social engagement, and the development of social competence.

Social competence refers to the ability to handle social interactions effectively and involves communicating and interacting appropriately and effectively with others. Factors in achieving social competence include the development of social skills, self-regulation, interpersonal knowledge and skills, positive self-identity, and planning and decision-making skills. Social engagement includes developing and maintaining reciprocal, meaningful relationships. Social competence and engagement improve the quality of interpersonal relationships and the ability to live interdependently in the community. Social competence and engagement is an important factor in employment success.

Required for Review

  • Describe how student engagement is incorporated in the inclusive program of study.

  • Describe how campus membership is supported in the inclusive program of study.

  • Provide a list of clubs, teams, student activities, or other campus activities each student has participated in for the past two years. Indicate if any students did not participate in any campus activities, and if so, why not.

  • Describe how social engagement and meaningful relationships are facilitated and by whom.

  • Describe how your program addresses improvement in each student’s social engagement and social competence in a manner that is individualized, planned, facilitated, and evaluated.

Curriculum Standard 7:

The inclusive program of study includes individualized support, instruction, or other activities designed to support development of students’ independent living skills and to be guided by each student’s person-centered plan.


The CTP definition in HEA includes supporting students with intellectual disabilities who are seeking to continue independent living instruction. Various programs use a variety of approaches to support students in increasing their independence through, for example, individualized learning activities, such as instruction in technology tools. Nothing in this standard is intended to require the use of separate classes to teach independent living skills.

Examples of areas of independent living skills include, but are not limited to, skills in the following areas that help individuals live and work in the community:

  • self-advocacy and self-determination

  • “soft skills” competencies, such as critical thinking and problem solving

  • financial management

  • personal care and management of the home

  • health and safety

  • nutrition

  • use of transportation

Required for Review

  • Describe how students are supported to become more independent through aspects of the inclusive program of study (for example, individualized learning activities, such as instruction in the use of technology tools, or using calendars to schedule activities and classes). Provide redacted examples.

  • Indicate what specific areas of independent living skills are considered for each student.

  • Describe how the improvement in each student’s independent living skills is addressed by your program in a manner that is individualized, planned, facilitated, and evaluated and guided by person-centered planning.

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