Adaptations and Modifications

Adaptations and Modifications

The individualization of instruction is an important part of special education. Instruction and schoolwork are tailored to the needs of the child. Sometimes a student may need to have changes made in class work or routines because of his or her disability. Modifications can be made to:

  • what a child is taught, and/or
  • how a child works at school.

Sometimes people get confused about what it means to have a modification and what it means to have an accommodation. Usually a modification means a change in what is being taught to or expected from the student. Making an assignment easier so the student is not doing the same level of work as other students is an example of a modification. An accommodation is a change that helps a student overcome or work around the disability. Allowing a student who has trouble writing to give his answers orally is an example of an accommodation. This student is still expected to know the same material and answer the same questions as fully as the other students, but he doesn’t have to write his answers to show that he knows the information.

What is most important to know about modifications and accommodations is that both are meant to help a child to learn. For example:

Jack is an 8th grade student who has learning disabilities in reading and writing. He is in a regular 8th grade class that is team-taught by a general education teacher and a special education teacher. Modifications and accommodations provided for Jack’s daily school routine (and when he takes state or district-wide tests) include the following:

1.      Jack will have shorter reading and writing assignments.

2.      Jack’s textbooks will be based upon the 8th grade curriculum but at his independent reading level (4th grade).

3.      Jack will have test questions read/explained to him, when he asks.

Modifications or accommodations are most often made in the following areas:

Scheduling. For example:

  • giving the student extra time to complete assignments or tests
  • breaking up testing over several days

Setting. For example:

  • working in a small group
  • working one-on-one with the teacher

Materials. For example:

  • providing audiotaped lectures or books
  • giving copies of teacher’s lecture notes
  • using large print books, Braille, or books on CD (digital text)

Instruction. For example:

  • reducing the difficulty of assignments
  • reducing the reading level
  • using a student/peer tutor

Student Response. For example:

  • allowing answers to be given orally or dictated
  • using a word processor for written work
  • using sign language, a communication device, Braille, or native language if it is not English.
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