Accommodations: Instructional and Testing Supports for Students with Disabilities

Wrap Up

Boy with headset An accommodation is a type of adaptation or change in educational environments or practices (i.e., supports or services) that helps a student overcome the barriers a disability imposes. Accommodations do not alter the content of materials or reduce the requirements of the task. Students with disabilities often require accommodations to access grade-level content and to demonstrate their knowledge. Instructional and testing accommodations are generally grouped into four categories:

  • Presentation
  • Response
  • Setting
  • Timing and scheduling

In the movie below, Martha Thurlow, Director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes, talks about how a teacher might bundle accommodations from these categories to support a student with a disability who has difficulty paying attention (time: 2:37). 

View Transcript | View Transcript with Images (PDF)

The IEP team makes decisions about what accommodations are needed. These accommodations are documented on the student’s IEP and are provided during instruction and testing situations. Teachers should ensure that students have ample practice with instructional accommodations before being placed in a standardized testing situation. When teachers provide accommodations as intended, students are more likely to experience academic success and demonstrate positive long-term outcomes. 

Revisiting Initial Thoughts

Think back to your responses to the Initial Thoughts questions at the beginning of this Module. After working through the Perspectives & Resources, do you still agree with those responses? If not, what aspects about them would you change?

What should teachers know about accommodations for students with disabilities?

What types of accommodations are commonly used for students with disabilities?

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

When you are ready, proceed to the Assessment section.

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