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Goals of accommodations

For both instruction and assessment, the primary goal of accommodations is to provide access to grade-level content for the student. In instruction, accommodations allow the student to participate fully in instruction. For an assessment, accommodations make sure that the student is able to show what he or she knows and can do. Accommodations make sure that the student's test score is valid--that the score is an accurate measure of what the student can do, not a measure of some aspect of the student's disability.

It is important to document a student's use of accommodations. In Minnesota, the MCA tests are not timed, so a student would not need an accommodation of extra time on an MCA test. But, if a student needs extra time to take classroom assessments, it is important for the student to have that accommodation documented on their IEP or 504 plan. This documentation is important for transition purposes. When the student takes a college entrance exam, such as the ACT, for example, he or she may not be able to have extra time if the accommodation has not been previously documented. When the student goes to college, he or she may need extra time, and again, it will be easier to substantiate this need if it has been previously documented.

There may be other aspects of new technologies that can be built-in to a student's learning in an online environment, such as large print, additional white space, color contrast, and even a read aloud or sign interpreting avatar. Because these features are built-in, they may be considered universally designed components. Yet, this does not diminish the student's need to use them, and they still must be documented on an IEP or 504 plan. In addition to transition planning, it is important to ensure that the student gets these accommodations every time they need them.

Finally, accommodations are a legal right of students. Providing accommodations is meeting the letter of the law--the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Individuals with Disabilities Educational Improvement Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

What kinds of accommodations do students with learning disabilities need?

I'm not sure what I think about the synthesized speech here, but I do think this video provides some good examples of what kinds of accommodations a student with a learning disability might need in a classroom. However, it's important to note that the educators in this video are talking about traditional kinds of classroom assignments, not so much technology-enhanced learning. The more we teach and learn with the internet, the more we'll have educators sharing their tips and techniques for providing accommodations in these settings, too.

Instructional Accommodations

Most educators think of accommodations when it comes to taking a test. They want to make sure that students can show what they know and can do on the test. Testing accommodations are important, but in fact, it is also important to make sure that students are using accommodations regularly in the classroom.

In fact, for many students, the process of being diagnosed with a learning disability will involve the Response to Intervention model (RTI). This model can vary depending on how it is implemented, but the basic idea here is that all students should receive a certain level of intervention in the classroom. This is usually some degree of individualized attention and differentiated instruction. When a student still is not performing well in the classroom, the student would receive some additional interventions that are not available to all students, but to that group of students who need them. This might be a pull out reading group, for example. Finally, if the student is still struggling, then a school may want to assess the student for special education services and if the student qualifies, he or she will get another level of support. But, throughout all of this, teachers and parents may be providing some level of accommodation to the student. In fact, the law says that students do not need to have an IEP to receive accommodations, but that teachers must provide them if a disability is suspected or perceived.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the instruction category.

assessment is the previous category.

learning disabilities is the next category.

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