ACCOMMODATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS

 

 

First let us establish terminology to be used in this section of the manual. The terms accommodations, modifications, adaptations, and interventions are used interchangeable in most literature. For purposes of this manual we shall use the term accommodations to describe any deviance from the curriculum, teaching style, or expectations of students.

 

Meeting the educational and social needs of learners with diverse abilities is a challenge that many educators are faced with daily. As more students with the support needs are being educated in regular education environments, it is becoming increasingly important to thoughtfully and collaboratively plan and implement instruction that meets the individual needs of each student. When any student is having difficulty with the coursework, it becomes necessary to identify the cause of the difficulty so that necessary accommodations can be made. There are several reasons for making accommodations including:

Providing students with opportunities for success

Accommodating individual differences,

Assuring mastery of the course objectives,

Complying with the law.

 

Together the IEP/504 committee works to develop alternatives and solutions to emphasize productive learning experiences for all students.

 

Research has shown that children with disabilities can learn when appropriate accommodations are implemented.

 

Once a student has been found to have a disability and is in need of special or related services, determining the appropriate accommodations is one of the most important decisions the IEP/504 committee will make. Appropriate accommodations along with other considerations can make or break the educational success of a student with a disability.

 

There are so many possibilities out there, how does a committee pick the right ones for the student? First, remember:

1. Every student can probably benefit from accommodations at some point in their educational career.

2. Most accommodations that you will use are good common sense teaching techniques that educators have used at one time or another throughout the history of teaching.

3. Most students do not need accommodations on a regular basis.

4. Most Students with disabilities need some accommodations in order to put them at an equal starting point with non-disabled students.

5. The goal of the IEP/504 committee is to determine which accommodation(s) students with disabilities need as opposed to which accommodations could benefit them.

 

So, now that we have determined the job of the committee, how does the committee go about choosing accommodations, which are appropriate for the needs of a student with a disability?

 

The first place to look for help is the Individual Evaluation. Information which was gathered during the evaluation process and reported in the evaluation itself includes observations made by educators and parents as well as other professionals about the learning styles and needs of the student. The evaluation may point the committee in a direction which will help them determine some of the following information necessary to make good educational decisions about a student’s educational program:

 

1. Learning Styles: Student records; anecdotal materials; discussions about teaching techniques with teachers in classes where the student has performed well; observation of student performance and productivity in various types of classroom activities; and formal assessment of learning styles are all appropriate methods to help identify students specific needs and learning styles.

 

Learning styles is probably one of the most discussed areas of difference in students today. The term "learning style" is really an "umbrella"

concept, under which have now been identified at least four dimensions of style: perceptual, cognitive, emotional and social.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS AND MODIFICATIONS *

v Perceptual Styles *

v Cognitive Styles *

v Emotional Styles *

v Social Styles *

 

 

Perceptual Styles

can be defined as the way(s) an individual takes information from her/his environment through the five senses. There are six different perceptual styles/orientations which are involved in the educational process:

Print The individual depends on the written word for most of what (s)he learns, believes and communicates, i.e., reading and writing.

Aural – The individual is a listener. Most of what is learned comes through what is heard.

Visual – The individual learns primarily from visual images (pictures, films, graphs, charts, etc.)

Interactive (Oral) – This individual is a talker. He learns from what he says. His verbalizations "gel" his thoughts. (By the way, oral learners are lousy listeners. It’s not what others say that makes their "wheels go round.")

Haptic (Tactile) – This person learns through touch and feel. (Sculptors and brain surgeons probably have a lot in common.)

Kinesthetic (Motor) – These persons must move to learn. Movement is critical to their thinking. They remember how things "work" (move).

 

Cognitive Styles

has to do with how the brain processes information after it’s received.

 

Teachers should feel free to let students process differently so long as they produce quality work.

Emotional Styles

come from personality factors that cluster together to form the emotional dimension of our learning styles. A basic proposition of much learning style theory is that our greatest weaknesses are over-extensions of our greatest strengths.

 

Social Styles

 

research is somewhat limited, but all teachers have seen at least two: the collaborative learner who is most productive when working with others and the independent learner who is most productive when working alone. Notice that there is a social dimension in how both approach learning.

 

2. Determine in which areas appropriate accommodations are needed with regard to classwork, homework, testing, grading, and environment. When considering these needs, take into account the student’s capability to process, retain, and generalize information.

 

Classwork. Learning styles, individual abilities, IEP requirements, behavior, and environmental factors will help determine the intervention (modifications/adaptations/ accommodation) necessary to meet the student’s individual needs.

 

Homework. Students with disabilities are likely to experience difficulties with their homework because they have problems in the areas of attention, independence, organization, and motivation.

Strategies may include shortened assignments, peer or teacher assistance to complete, homework written on board daily, instruction repeated orally, etc…)

The value of the assignment should be weighed in regard to the "fruit it bears".

 

Testing. Adaptations usually involve making changes or modifications in one or more of the following areas:

Test preparation - providing study guides, the asterisk method to target test requirements, etc.

Test construction - including fewer questions looking at whether multiple choice, true-false, or short answer are more appropriate. etc

Test administration - providing extra time, oral testing, etc.

Test sites - providing a distraction-free site

Test feed back - providing individual feedback

 

The test modifications provided in the regular classroom setting should also be provided on standardized tests.

 

Grading Modified grades are possible, so long as the IEP/504 committee makes determinations on a case-by-case basis. The Officially Designated Representative (usually the principal) must approve modified grading.

 

Environmental adaptations involve altering the classroom or other instructional environments to make it more conducive to learning.

 

In designing environmental adaptations, consider the student’s senses including vision, hearing, touch, and smell.

 

Consider also, the learner’s toleration of movement or frequent desire to move, organizational abilities/preferences, the need for enhanced or reduced sensory stimulation, as well as the preference to work independently or in a group.

 

 

3. Nine Types of Adaptations

 

Curriculum and instructional adaptations can take many forms. The following chart identifies nine different categories of changes the IEP/504 committee can consider when selecting adaptation options. The nine types of adaptations may be expanded to over 100 when mixed and matched. The adaptations the teacher selects from day to day will vary depending on individual student needs and goals and on the particular lesson content and structure that is planned. The nine types of adaptations are not intended to be an exhaustive list. As teachers increase their skills, they will continue to create new and better ways to provide meaningful learning opportunities for all students.

 

Elementary Grade

 

Size

Adapt the number of items that the learner is expected to learn or complete.

For example:

Reduce the number of social studies terms a student must learn at any one time.

Time

Adapt the time allotted and allowed for learning, task completion, or testing;

For example:

Individualize a timeline for completing a task, pace learning differently (increase or decrease) for some learners.

Level of Support

Increase the amount of personal assistance with a specific learner.

For example:

Assign peer buddies, teaching assistants, peer tutors, or cross age tutors.

Input

Adapt the way instruction is delivered to the learner.

For example:

Use different visual aids, plan more concrete examples, provide hands-on activities, place students in cooperative groups.

Difficulty

Adapt the skill level, problem type, or the rules on how the learner may approach the work.

For example:

Allow the use of a calculator to figure math problems; simplify task directions; change rules to accommodate learner needs.

Output

Adapt how the student can respond to instruction.

For example:

Instead of answering questions in writing, allow a verbal response, use a communication book for some students, allow students to show knowledge with hands on materials.

Participation

Adapt the extent to which a learner is actively involved in the task.

For example:

In geography, have a student hold the glove, while others point out locations.

Alternate Goals

Adapt the goals or outcome expectations while using the same materials.

For example:

In social studies, expect a student to be able to locate just the states while others learn to locate capitals as well.

Substitute Curriculum

Provide different instruction and materials to meet a student’s individual goals.

For example:

During a language test, one student might be learning computer skills in the computer lab.

 

Secondary Classes

 

Size

Adapt the number of items that the learner is expected to learn or complete.

For example:

In English, reduce the length of an essay the student must produce.

Time

Adapt the skill level, or problem type, or the rules on how the learner may approach the work.

For example:

Provide some students with extra time to complete a project or assignment.

Level of Support

Increase the amount of personal assistance to an individual learner.

For example:

Use teaching assistants, assign buddies, or try a peer-tutoring program.

Input

Adapt the way instruction is delivered to the learner.

For example:

Use visual aids, media presentations, demonstrations, and cooperative grouping strategies.

Difficulty

Adapt the skill level, problem type, or the rules on how the learner may approach the work.

For example:

Allow the use of a calculator, simplify the content; or decrease task directions.

Output

Adapt how the student can respond to instruction.

For example:

On a math test, have the student demonstrate problem completion instead of completing a pencil and paper task independently.

Participation

Adapt the extent to which a learner is actively involved in the task.

For example:

In social studies, have the student arrange a class speaker as a means of participation. .

Alternate Goals

Adapt the goals or outcome expectations while using the same materials.

For example:

In business, some students focus on learning social skills in the work place, while others also learn the technical skills needed.

Substitute Curriculum

Provide different instruction and materials to meet a student’s individual goals.

For example:

During physics for some students, another student may be learning job skills in the community.

Professional material containing lists of modifications, adaptations, accommodations are available in your school through special educators, Pupil Appraisal, SWAT Facilitator, and other regular education teachers. The Content Standards Modification Reference Guide is accessible on the Internet (Special Services web page) as well as available through your SWAT facilitator. We have also included a limited bank of possible accommodations at the end of this section. The State Department is currently compiling an additional reference book of listings that will be made available to you upon its completion.

 

Choosing from the vast lists of possible accommodations is no easy task for the IEP/504 Committees and much of the decision making will come from years of experience and professional judgement. We have only provided the committee with a starting point. How you proceed from here will be decided in part by the makeup of the committee and by the individual needs of the student with a disability.

 

4. Conflict Resolution

 

No matter how hard a committee works to share ideas, to listen to other’s opinions, and to collaborate on the academic needs of the student with a disability, differences of opinion will arise. It is important that these differences are seen as differences because of genuine concern for the success of the student in question and not just differences based on committee personalities or control of the decisions. Should a conflict arise, the following steps may be taken to try to resolve the issue before it escalates to a battle or a stalemate:

Listen to the reason for the disagreement. Why do one or more members feel so strongly about the issue? Allow for some discussion on the issue without condemning the opinions of others.

 

Can the committee members agree to disagree on the issue without compromising their beliefs but still coming to a decision which is appropriate for the student? Sometimes everyone may have to compromise in order to keep things moving.

 

If the meeting reaches a standstill because of one particular issue, move on to another and come back to this particular issue later during the meeting. Sometimes things have a way of working themselves out given some time.

 

Should the conflict reach a point where discussion has all but shut down, the committee may have to call upon a third party to help with the conflict. This might be another teacher, another professional who is not directly involved with this committee or this student, or a teacher from outside the committee who knows this student or who has worked with this student in the past.

 

If all else fails, the meeting may have to be stopped at this point and a mediator called in to help. The parish has personnel trained in mediation.

 

If the conflict arose because one teacher refuses to provide accommodations according to the committee’s decisions, the principal may have to become involved at this point.

 

The regular education teacher has the authority when planning and deciding the co-teaching approach to curriculum instruction, and activities.

 

5. Red Flags

 

The success of meeting student needs with regard to accommodations in regular education environments is dependent upon thoughtful planning, ongoing problem solving, an openness to new ideas, a commitment to frequent evaluation and lots of collaboration between regular and special teachers.

 

We are confident that the skilled and dedicated teachers across St. Mary Parish will meet this challenge with enthusiasm and creativity.

 

Statewide inclusion programs will be in place this school year. It is not expected that the accommodations chosen will always meet the students needs. This whole concept may not make perfect sense in the first few weeks of school. One must give ample time before determining what is working and what is not working. As the year progresses, IEP’s and 504 plans and inclusion plans can be modified as needed to meet the needs of all the students.

 

There is no cookbook to describe which accommodations are best for all students and teachers. Each teacher may teach differently and each teacher may have different expectations of the students in his/her class. Student accommodations may vary from class to class and from teacher to teacher. The names of the game are flexibility and collaboration. Without these two elements, any program is destined to failure. Just be ever mindful that student and the teacher needs will change, for "the only thing that is constant is change itself".