Community Based Instruction (CBI) is an instructional strategy designed to target the development of functional skills in natural, non-school based environments. Instruction is intensive, explicit, and based on assessment of students' need. It is the next level of instruction after classroom instruction has taken place. Skills learned in the classroom are generalized and taught in the community. CBI promotes greater independence at school and in the community.

    The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires each state to establish challenging academic standards for students including students with moderate to severe disabilities. Rigorous standards based instruction is essential for the progress of all students.

    Standard-based instruction is crucial when planning instruction for students with moderate to severe disabilities because it:

    • Ties individual student needs to state standards
    • Supports IEP teams in understanding a student’s current level of performance and what skills need to be taught
    • Shows student access and progress in the general education curriculum

    In order to understand the core principles of instruction for secondary students with moderate to severe disabilities, it is essential to have an awareness of the focus stages. Throughout a student’s elementary, middle, and high school experience the instructional focus will change.


    The stages of instruction are much like a pebble dropping into water. When the pebble hits the water, many concentric rings begin forming and moving outward from the center. This is much like our students that enter high school from middle school. Students will build their foundation at the high school and gradually move outward toward the community and ultimately towards independence. Some students in our programs will not advance past this focus stage due to their cognitive ability. Nonetheless, the expectation is that instruction will continue to focus on promoting maximum independence for each student. The three stages provide specific skills to our students so that when they leave us they have a better chance at living independently and being competitively employed.

    Video describing Community Based Instruction in LAUSD - http://www.lausd.net/cdg/SpecEd/cbi/

    Alternate Curriculum Program Links