When IEPs are written there are typically accommodations included to help students succeed. These accommodations have been carefully considered and are put into the document with a purpose.
Unfortunately, not all teachers feel the same way about accommodations as the IEP team. Some view them as suggestions, and some teachers are not sure what the difference is between accommodations and modifications.
Today we will talk about what all teachers need to understand about accommodations in a child’s IEP.
The 411 on Accommodations
There is a lot of misinformation about what accommodations are, why they are relevant, and when and how they should be implemented. Hopefully, this will help clear up the false information and give teachers a better understanding of their role in making sure accommodations are provided.
It’s the Law
Accommodations in IEPs are legally mandated. That means that teachers do not have the option of providing them to students based on their own understanding or their feelings about students having them. If it’s in the IEP, it’s the law and the accommodations have to be followed. End of story.
Reading Aloud is Not Pick and Choose
If a student has an accommodation that all tests and quizzes must be read aloud, that means all tests and quizzes. Teachers cannot pick and choose which quizzes to read aloud. Pop quizzes are quizzes and they must be read aloud to students too.
Accommodations Are Not There to Give an Advantage
Many teachers believe that accommodations give students an unfair advantage. That is false. They are there to help level the playing field and give students a fair shake at succeeding.
Accommodations and Modifications Are Not the Same Thing
Accommodations alter the student’s environment in order for him to have an opportunity to succeed at grade level. Modifications alter the curriculum/lesson. Both are required by law, without exception or excuse, if they are written in a student’s IEP.
It’s Okay to Create a Culture of Accommodation
While IEPs are legally binding and those accommodations must be enacted, there is nothing wrong with providing accommodations for all students who need them. Perhaps all of your students would benefit from a larger, no-frills font on worksheets. Maybe reading the test aloud or using small groups would help everyone succeed. When the environment is altered to make learning better for all students it means that they all have an opportunity to learn and demonstrate their understanding without being hindered by environmental factors.
Using Assistive Technology is Not Cheating
Recordings, audio books, voice-to-text and text-to-speech software is not cheating. Assistive technology is put in place to help students access material and demonstrate their understanding. Encourage its use in the classroom for any student who needs it and make sure that your students who have it in their IEPs do not feel singled out or hesitant to use it.
While there is a lot of misunderstanding about accommodations, there is also a great opportunity to change the culture of schools to be more inclusive and provide alternative access methods for any student who needs them. The goal of education should be to help students learn and demonstrate their learning in ways that make sense for them. Accommodations do that.