By GreatSchools Staff
When school staff talk about accommodations and modifications for your child with learning and/or attention problems, are you confused? What do these terms mean in a classroom? Has an alternate assessment been recommended for your child on a state- or district-wide test? What do you need to know when it comes to standardized tests used to make important decisions about your child?
Accommodations provide different ways for kids to take in information or communicate their knowledge back to you. The changes basically don't alter or lower the standards or expectations for a subject or test. Preferred seating in the front of the class for a child with attention issues is an example of an accomodation. Through the child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan, classroom accommodations may be formally developed. In addition, some general education teachers agree informally to make accommodations for kids in their classes.
Prior to the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), the term "modifications" referred to changes in the delivery, content, or instructional level of district-wide or statewide tests for students receiving special education services. In effect, modifications resulted in lowering the expectations and standards by which these students were assessed. Beginning with IDEA 2004, the term "modification" is no longer used in relation to district-wide and statewide testing, because the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) mandates that students with specific learning disabilities be tested using the same standards as those used for non-learning disabled kids. Replacing the term "modifications" with "alternative assessment" makes more explicit the different - i.e., less complex - standards of such tests.
Accommodations are adjustments to make sure kids have equal access to curriculum and a way to be successful. Accommodations to be used for classroom instruction and testing are generally defined in a student's IEP, although this is not a required component of a student's IEP as specified by IDEA. When using accommodations, kids with learning disabilities (LD) or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD) are expected to meet the same standards set for all kids. For example: Kids with LD can learn the same material as others in the class but in a different way. A child with delayed reading skills can participate in class discussions about a novel if she's listened to the audio tape version of the book.
Accommodations also offer a way for kids with LD to demonstrate what they've learned. For example: A child with poor writing and spelling skills may use assistive technology - a tape recorder or word processor - rather then struggle with pencil and paper to do her report about a famous person in history.
Teachers can set conditions to help kids with AD/HD pay attention. For a child who's easily distracted by background noise, an accommodation that might be offered is seating the student away from the window and heater, or close to the teacher for prompting.
Modifications, on the other hand, mean that the curriculum and/or instruction is changed quite a bit. When modifications are made, kids with disabilities are not expected to master the same academic content as others in the classroom.
A child who can't learn the twenty-word spelling list every week may learn only ten words. This results in different standards for mastery - half the number of words as kids without a disability learn weekly.
A fifth-grade child with a severe math disability who isn't ready to learn fractions and decimals may still be working on addition and subtraction. This means that his instructional level has changed significantly - second-, not fifth-grade instruction - from that of other kids in his classroom. So, grades do not necessarily tell parents the full story; it's important to find out whether your child is achieving these grades in the standard curriculum for his grade level, or in a modified curriculum.
Sign up for our free newsletter and we'll send you
more just like it every week.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.