• Accommodations and Modifications

    Accommodations and modifications are techniques used by special educators to ensure that students with disabilities can access the core curriculum in general education classrooms (e.g., Castagnera, Fisher, Rodifer, Sax, & Frey, 2003). An accommodation is a change made to the teaching or testing procedures to provide a student with access to information and to create an equal opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and skills. Accommodations do not change the instructional level, content, or performance criteria for meeting the standards. Examples of accommodations include enlarging print, Braille versions, oral versions of tests, and using calculators. A modification is a change in what a student is expected to learn and/or demonstrate. Although a student may be working on modified course content, the subject area remains the same as the rest of the class. Modifications vary according to the situation. Listed below are four modification techniques:
    • Same-only less The assignment remains the same, except the number of items is reduced. The items selected should be representative areas of the curriculum. For example, a social studies test that consisted of multiple choice questions with five possible answers each could be modified and the number of possible answers reduced to two.
    • Streamline the Curriculum The assignment is reduced in size, breadth, or focus to emphasize key points. For example, a student may outline the chapter rather than write summaries of the contents in the chapter. Alternatively, a student with a disability may focus on identifying the themes of the chapter, and create a display to support his or her writing on those main ideas.
    • Same Activity with Infused Objective The assignment remains the same, but additional components such as IEP objectives or identified skills are incorporated. This is often done in conjunction with other accommodations and/or modifications to ensure that all IEP objectives are addressed. For example, if a student has an IEP objective to answer factual and inferential questions, the teacher may need to remember to ask these types of questions so that the student can practice this skill in a natural setting.
    • Curriculum Overlapping The assignment in one area may be completed during another time. Some students work slowly and need more time to complete assignments, whereas others need to explore the connections between various content areas. For example, if a student participated in a poster project in his or her cooperative learning group, the product could also be used during language arts.
    Deciding which technique to use depends on the type of assignment and the student. One assignment may need only to be reduced in size for the student to be successful, whereas another may incorporate infused objectives. Keep in mind that curriculum does not always need to be modified - even when considering students with more significant disabilities. When general education teachers provide multi-level instruction, changes to a lesson may not be necessary.

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