Accommodations and modifications
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Accommodations and Modifications. A guide to providing accommodations and modifications for students. 2011-2012. Accommodations and Modifications. Some students with disabilities need accommodations or modifications in their educational program in order to be successful in school.

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Accommodations and Modifications

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A guide to providing accommodations and modifications for students.


Accommodations and Modifications

Some students with disabilities need accommodations or modifications in their educational program in order to be successful in school.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

(IDEA) and its regulations do not offer a definition for an accommodation or modification.

However, there is general agreement as to

what the terms mean.


An accommodation allows a student to complete the same assignments as other students, but permits a change in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response or presentation.

  • Changes in how a student accesses information and demonstrates learning.

  • Are used in classroom instruction and assessment.

  • Accommodations do not substantially change the content, instructional level or performance.

  • Provide for equal opportunity (level the playing field)

    An accommodation does not alter what the test or assignment measures.


Presentation Accommodations-changes to the way in which instructional or test content is presented to a student. For example: font size, sign language, picture symbols, etc.

Response Accommodations-methods a student uses to provide responses to instructional activities or assessment tasks. For example: producing text orally or to a scribe or using speech-to-text software.

Setting/Environment Accommodations-changes to the location in which an assignment or assessment is given or the environmental conditions the student needs. For example: location with less distractions, sensory tools, ear plugs, etc.

Timing/Scheduling Accommodations-allowable amount of time or the time of day instruction or assessments are given. For example: extended time or providing key instruction to the student in the morning.


A modification adjusts the expectations for

an assignment or a test.

  • Changes in what a student is expected to learn and/or demonstrate

  • Modifications alter the content or lower the standards or expectations.

  • Allow meaningful participation and enhanced learning experiences (instead of just leveling the playing field, it changes the game)

Modification Examples

A child is permitted to complete only part of a standard

A child is given/demonstrates limited concepts involved in math problems

A child is provided only key points for text

Accommodation or Modification?

Below are examples of modifications and/or

accommodations. These examples may be helpful when doing educational planning for students to access the curriculum.

Keep in mind that any accommodation or modification an IEP team or Section 504 team chooses must be based on individual needs.

To be in compliance with Federal law accommodations and/or modifications must be provided if written in the child’s IEP or 504 plan.

Is each example an Accommodation or a modification?

1.) Provide alternative books expressing the same content but at a simpler reading level. Answer

2.) Provide audiotapes of textbooks. Have

the child follow the text while listening. Answer

3.) Provide summaries of chapters of assigned reading. Answer

4.) Use peer readers. Answer

5.) Use marker to highlight important text sections of assignments. Answer

6.) Use word-for-word sentence fill-ins with a word bank for one student only. Answer


7.) Shorten spelling tests to the most functional words. Answer

8.) Substitute alternatives for written assignments

(claymodels, posters, panoramas, collections, etc.). Answer

9.) Give alternatives to long written reports (e.g., several short reports, preview new audiovisual materials and write a short review, give an oral report). Answer

10.) Modify classroom policies that may discriminate

against the student (e.g., provide frequent breaks for

the student who cannot pay attention for long periods of time) Answer


**The same content expectation is presented to all students.



**The content level has not been adjusted although the presentation is differentiated.



**This is an accommodation if it is given to the student to use while reading the chapter or for review after reading it. If it is in replace of the chapter it is a modification.



**The student is accountable to the same level of content.



**The expectations for the assignment have not been adjusted.



**The expectation for completion of the assignment has been changed.

**This modification DOES change what the student is expected to demonstrate.

**The activity objectives have been modified to meet the needs of this learner.



**The expectation on an assessment has been changed.



**The level of demonstrated mastery is different than for other students.



**Level expectation remains the same the presentation is differentiated.



**The same level of performance and academic expectations have not been altered.



The following slides are scenarios identifying student’s need for accommodations and modifications.

Read through each scenario and individually or with a team decide if the student is receiving accommodations and/or modifications.

Scenario 1

A 7th grade science class is being assessed on the layers of the earth. One student is reading at a 4th grade reading level, the student is provided with books and notes he can read independently. All students are expected to demonstrate the same knowledge of the earth’s layers.




The same learning expectation is the same for every student.


Scenario 2

In a first grade class a student is performing academically at grade level. To be successful in the classroom he needs frequent breaks, a token economy, and schedules and instructions presented to him visually.




The learning expectation has not been changed. The student is to complete all assignments regardless of frequent breaks in or out of the classroom.


Scenario 3

There is a 5th grade student who is in the average to high range compared to typical peers in all academic areas. However, when completing spelling and math assignments the length is shortened due to fatigue and her frustration level.




The learning expectation for this student has been changed compared to her peers.


Scenario 4

In a 9th grade civics class the students are to demonstrate their knowledge of a past president. Some students turned in a 5 page research paper with 5-8 sources cited. A few students turned in 3 page paper with 4 sources cited and a gave a speech. One student, with an IEP, turned in a 2 page paper with 2 sources cited but also used a power point slide show demonstrating what he learned.




The learning expectation is to demonstrate their knowledge of a past president. The learning expectation has not been changed for the student with an IEP.


Final Scenario

Student: Age 12 male

Primary disability: Specific Learning Disability

Secondary disability: Speech/Language Disability

Present levels: This student performs in the above average range, when compared to his same age peers, in the areas of mathematics. The areas of reading, written language, spelling, and articulation are significantly below average. It should further be noted that this student has a diagnosis of apraxia which is an extreme articulation disability.

He currently has identified needs and goals in the areas of reading,spelling, written language, and articulation.

List out appropriate accommodations and modifications to help the student access grade level curriculum.



  • access to the teacher’s notes to supplement his own notes

  • extra processing and response time

  • provide books on tape when appropriate

  • access to word processing to support written language output when appropriate

  • option to take test orally when appropriate



  • modified spelling program, functional words only

  • written work may be adjusted to reflect ability level

Peace out!

Please refer to the Colorado Department of Education Accommodations Manual for more information.

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