Implications for Learning
A developmentally appropriate curriculum allows a student to actively engage with the content and materials, as independently as possible. When there is an appropriate match, it is likely that educators will notice that the student needs less frequent and/or less intensive prompts to participate in their learning and will likely see higher levels of participation and engagement.
A mismatch in curriculum and a student's developmental level will likely result in challenging behavior serving the function of escape of instructional task demands which are above the student's current ability level, disengagement with task (e.g., head down on desk, leaving instructional area, etc.), and lack of progress towards identified IEP goals or standards.
If a student is unable to access grade level curriculum, they may require a modified curriculum and/or accommodations and modifications in addition to developmentally appropriate instructional and behavioral supports.
In addition to having a developmentally appropriate curriculum, students must also be provided developmentally appropriate instructional supports and strategies - whether it be for teaching academic content, functional skills, or desired behavior.
If the strategies used with the intention of supporting a student's learning are mismatched with the student's developmental level, the student will not be able to use or access those strategies. This will likely result in little to no educational progress, disengagement with activities, and potentially challenging behavior.