What are the teacher’s responsibilities for students with disabilities who use accommodations?

Page 8: The Teacher’s Role on the IEP Team

acc_page08_01Because teachers often have first-hand knowledge of what works with the student in their classrooms, they are valuable members of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team—the team that makes decisions about what supports and services a student with disabilities should receive for instruction and testing. In addition to the general education teacher, the IEP team should include the student’s parent(s), special education teacher, related service providers (e.g., physical therapist, speech therapist), and, when appropriate, the student him or herself. These teams should also include an educational professional such as a school psychologist or administrator who is familiar with the state and district learning standards, testing procedures, and policies for implementing accommodations. Click here for a list of potential IEP team members and their roles.

Accommodations are reviewed annually during the IEP meeting, or more often if needed. The teacher plays an integral role in this process as the team discusses the student’s:

  • Present levels of educational performance
  • Individual strengths and needs
  • Educational goals

Though decisions are individualized to the student and should not be based on a specific disability category, the list below offers some items educators and professionals might discuss during an IEP meeting.

  • Modalities (e.g., visual, auditory) that work best for the student
  • Accommodations that have been tried
  • What has worked well
  • What has not worked well
  • Accommodations that might help the student to access classroom instruction and assessments
  • Accommodations that are allowable on state tests
  • Who is responsible for assuring that accommodations are available on state assessments as documented in the IEP
  • What accommodations the student prefers and what will he or she use
  • Challenges of using these accommodations
  • The measurements to determine whether the accommodation is working
  • Academic or social behaviors that interfere with the student’s learning
  • Whether the results of classroom assignments and assessments accurately reflect the student’s knowledge and skills

Group of adultsAfter they have chosen the appropriate instructional and assessment accommodations for a student, the team should document both on the IEP form. Although these vary by state, the forms include several sections where accommodations can be specified: communication and AT special considerations, supplemental aids and services, and assessment sections. Once a teacher begins to provide the accommodations, he or she should monitor whether they are proving effective. Doing so can help determine whether to continue, alter, or discontinue the accommodations. In the event that the accommodations require alteration, the IEP team should meet to document the changes on the student’s IEP form.


For Your Information

It is important that a student understand his disability and what accommodations can help him in school. By taking part in IEP meetings, the student can begin to learn to speak up for himself and his own needs. A student who is involved in the accommodation selection process tends to use the accommodations more often than one who is not involved. Through this process, the student learns to self-advocate and to make important decisions about his needs that he can then apply on the job or when attending post-secondary education.


Listen as Ryan Kettler talks about how IEP teams address instructional and testing accommodations and about the importance of identifying effective accommodations for students.

Ryan Kettler, PhD
Ryan Kettler, PhD
Applied Core Faculty
Rutgers Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology
Rutgers University

Address Instructional and Testing Accommodations

(time: 1:57)

View Transcript

Identifying Effective Accommodations for Students

(time: 1:37)

View Transcript 

Listen as Martha Thurlow gives three recommendations for identifying accommodations for students (time: 0:52).  


Martha Thurlow, PhD
Director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes
Institute on Community Integration at the College of Education and Human Development
University of Minnesota 

Revisiting Our Challenge

Because Ms. Hamadi began teaching in the middle of the school year, she was unaware that Sean received accommodations. In reality, it would be her responsibility to find out which of her students had IEPs and to implement them accordingly. Also, Ms. Eli, the special education teacher, should have followed up as soon as Ms. Hamadi was hired to inform her about these students. Ideally, the teacher Ms. Hamadi replaced would have made this information available to his or her replacement.

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