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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Community Based Instruction - Topic 18

What is it?

Community based instruction (CBI) is effective individualized instruction designed to teach specific skills based on the needs of the student (Bates, Cuvo, Miner, & Korabek, 2001). Students learn and apply vocational and independent functioning skills in various real life settings under the supervision of a teacher or other support staff.  CBI is typically taken as a high school course for credit during the student’s junior or senior year. Before a student begins CBI, an IEP meeting is conducted and the team develops educational goals for the student. Once the IEP goals are written, a schedule and placement are established and then the student begins his or her CBI. The ultimate goal of CBI is to prepare students for successful transition to adulthood after high school graduation. Other benefits of CBI are an enhanced quality of life and skills to help the student live and work independently (Wehman & Kregel, 2004).

Why is it important?

Community based instruction provides students with disabilities the opportunity to learn independent functioning and job related skills in a natural environment (e.g. actual places of employment) instead of learning simulated job skills in the classroom. Research shows that persons with disabilities often have difficulty in generalizing skills and learning abstract concepts (Bates, Cuvo, Miner, & Korabek, 2001). Therefore, “learning by doing” opportunities must be provided for these students and the learning must take place in the natural environments in which skills are typically expected to occur.


Bates, P. E., Cuvo, T., Miner, C. A., & Korabek, C. A. (2001). Simulated and community-based

instruction involving persons with mild and moderate mental retardation. Research in

developmental disabilities, 22(2), 95-115.

Wehman, P., & Kregel, J. (2004). Functional curriculum for elementary, middle, and secondary age

students with special needs. PRO-ED, Inc. 8700 Shoal Creek Blvd, Austin, TX 78757.

Web Links

Transition Community Network

National Center on Response to Intervention

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