What questions should Ms. Flores and Mr. Ericson ask the general and special education teachers?

Page 11: Accommodations

Teacher helping students at their desksAn accommodation is a service or support that helps a student to fully access the subject matter and instruction, and to accurately demonstrate what he or she knows related to the child’s disability across all of the general education curriculum. For example, in the case of a student with a reading disability, teachers must accommodate the student’s reading in all content areas (e.g., math, science) that require reading implemented during instruction so that it is not unfamiliar to the student on test day. An accommodation is not:

  • A change to the content of instruction or performance expectations for students
  • An interference or major change to the standards specified for students
  • An alteration to the big idea or major learning outcomes expected of the instruction

There are many instances in which students would benefit from accommodations. These include:

  • Students with motor, sensory, or information-processing deficits benefit from alternative acquisition tools such as sign language interpreters, Braille materials, and tape-recorded books
  • Students with learning problems can be helped by content enhancements such as advance organizers, diagrams, study guides, mnemonic devices, or peer-mediated instruction
  • Students who have trouble expressing themselves due to sensory or motor deficits or language differences may benefit from having a scribe or from receiving additional time to complete their work

It is beneficial for teachers to use a checklist (e.g., Assessment Accommodations Checklist (PDF)) to help develop the specific accommodations needed by students who require this type of intervention. Accommodations may include assistance with test directions, scheduling, testing format, and other suggestions shown in the tables below. 

Examples of Instructional Accommodations
Pencil grips Increased time to complete
assignments or tests
Additional practice of specific skills or concepts
Large-print books Calculators and spell
Increased opportunities for
applying skills or concepts
A quieter setting Word-processing software Direct instruction in using
specific knowledge in different contexts

In addition to accommodations for instruction, there are many types of test accommodations (National Center on Educational Outcomes, n.d.). Ideally, students would first become familiar with accommodations during instruction.

Examples of Assessment Accommodations
Change the test location. For example, allow the student to take the test in a small group or individually. Allow extended time or take frequent test breaks. Allow testing over several days or administer only during a specific time. Change the format by using assistive devices, such as by allowing a reader or computer assistance. Change how the student responds, such as by allowing a scribe, recorder, or computer.

Listen now as Margaret McLaughlin discusses test accommodations and provides several examples of students who might use testing accommodations.

Margaret J. McLaughlin, PhD
Professor, Department of Special Education
University of Maryland, College Park

Test Accommodations

(time: 2:11)

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Examples of Test Accommodations

(time: 1:50)

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