Understand the purpose and types of accommodations When students with IEPs are taught in the general education setting, a variety of supports are used to help them access curriculum content, participate in learning activities, and demonstrate their learning. Many of these accommodations and modifications can also benefit students who don’t have disabilities and enhance their learning. During instruction, these tools can be used for any student who would benefit from them. Understanding various accommodations and developing a system for implementing and them efficiently and consistently helps teachers meet the needs of all of their students.
Accommodations are changes to learning and assessment activities and environments that reduce or eliminate the impact of a student’s disability on his or her performance; they do not alter learning expectations or performance criteria. Accommodations involve changes to: (1) Presentation of the instruction material (e.g., showing captioned videos, using manipulatives to explain a math concept) (2) Student response to classroom instruction (e.g., reducing the number of math problems; allowing a student to write a bulleted list instead of full sentences), (3) Instructional timing (e.g., providing breaks) (4) Instructional setting (e.g., using preferential seating; providing a study carrel).
Modifications are changes to the instruction or assessment do significantly change the instructional level, the content, and/or the performance criteria (e.g., reducing the number of vocabulary words to be learned; using only whole numbers in math problems instead of including decimals).
Get to know your students
Teachers need to become familiar with their students’ IEPs. Accommodations are included in several sections of the IEP:
1. Consideration of Special Factors: This is where communication and assistive technology supports are considered.
2. Supplementary Aids and Services: This area of the IEP includes aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education classes or other education-related settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate.
3. Participation in Assessments: This section of the IEP documents accommodations needed to facilitate the participation of students with disabilities in general state-wide and district-wide assessments. Remember that these accommodations must be used regularly during instruction (and their use documented) in order for students to use them during assessment.
Other students may have 504 Plans or Student Support Plans that document accommodations. This information is key to understanding how your students learn and help them succeed. Implementing accommodations as specified in the IEP is both an instructional best practices and a professional responsibility.
Organize the information about your students’ accommodations
Many teachers find it useful to put all their accommodation information in one matrix so they can see at a glance when planning instruction what kinds of supports will be needed. If you teach multiple groups of students over the course of the day, you may want to develop a matrix for each class (e.g., Period 1 Algebra; Period 2 Statistics, etc). Using initials instead of full names protects students’ privacy if others have access to your plan book.
Include Information on Accommodations in Daily Lesson Plans
Use your accommodations matrix as a tool when you create your lesson plans. For each learning activity, think about your goals and expectations for the whole class and what supports and accommodations your students with special learning needs will require to achieve those goals. Note these accommodations in your plans; this helps you remember to use them, provides necessary information for a substitute, and also serves to document that you implemented your students’ IEPs as required.
As much as possible, implement accommodations that allow students to be as independent as possible (for example, typing responses on an alpha smart, as opposed to dictating to an adult). Keep activities and materials as similar as possible to those being used by other students. Monitor the student’s use of the accommodations and their effectiveness in promoting participation and learning; like other parts of the IEP, the accommodations often need to be adjusted as students’ needs and preferences change, so bring this information to the IEP team.
You may want to note what IEP goals and objectives are being addressed during the lesson as well. Many teachers like to assign each goal on a student’s IEP a number, then assign a letter to each of the objectives under that goal, for easy notation in their plans. More information on embedding and documenting specialized instruction can be found on the tip sheet Addressing the IEP in General Education.
The teacher will:
All Students will:
Introduce topic with lecture, overhead, class discussion
Listen to/watch teacher presentation
Raise hands to answer questions
Take notes from overhead projector
Pre-teaching of vocabulary and concepts (H.A., J.H.)