Adjustments to Curriculum for Australian School-Aged Students with Disabilities: What’s Reasonable?
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This study explored Australian discrimination cases involving students with disabilities to identify why adjustments to curriculum were a source of tension, and then further examine what were reasonable adjustments? Despite parents and educators citing tensions surrounding the provision of adjustments in discrimination claims, few studies have examined how commissioners and judges have determined the reasonableness of curriculum adjustments. Using a qualitative line of inquiry, 134 Australian judicial decisions involving 84 students with disabilities were initially identified and examined using the explanation of reasonableness, outlined in section 3.4 of the Disability Standards for Education 2005 (DSE). Analysis of the 134 decisions revealed an upward trend in litigation, with claims mainly emerging in Government schools, particularly in New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland. After eliminating cases where issues around curriculum were not discussed, 92 judicial decisions involving 54 Australian students with disabilities remained, and were the focus for detailed analysis. The first sub-question explored what counted as a disability when determining adjustments to curriculum. Findings revealed tensions around the qualifications of practitioners diagnosing disabilities, and the validity of assessment measures used with some populations. Findings further revealed tensions relating to the record-keeping practices of both families and schools. Concerns were noted in relation to students who chose not to disclose their disability, students ineligible for additional resourcing, and students where the impact of the disability on learning fluctuated. A key implication from these findings was the need to address the discrepancy between the legislated definition of disability, and that used by schools to identify students eligible for additional resourcing to support their educational needs.
Thesis (PhD Doctorate)
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
School of Education and Professional Studies
Item Access Status
Students with disabilities
Disability Standards for Education 2005 (DSE)