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

Page 12: Modifications

ClassroomA modification is a change to the instruction or curriculum for a student in which the content of the instruction or the performance expectations are altered. Modifications are useful for students for whom all possible accommodations have been considered but who require additional measures to help them progress in the general education curriculum. Skill deficits, such as in reading or math, can make it difficult for some students to achieve the curricular goals set for all students. Carefully constructed modifications can help students with these skill deficits to progress in the general education curriculum at their own level. The table below illustrates several types of modifications that can be used with students with disabilities.

Reduce assignments Require a student to write one or two paragraphs instead of several pages.
Vary levels of reading material Students in a class might read literature at different levels, though all learn to identify character development, plot, and “voice”.
Design new material Tasks might mirror the general education curriculum but vary in difficulty. For example, all students might receive math instruction, but some would study basic algebra while others solved simple word problems.
Use lower level texts Use a textbook or text in the same subject matter that is below the grade level of the class.

Cautions in Using Modifications

Although it’s true that modifications allow students with disabilities to access the general education curriculum, teachers should be cautious not to:

  • “Dumb down” the curriculum by taking away the difficult tasks and altering what students are expected to learn
  • Reduce a student’s opportunity to learn the critical knowledge, skills, and concepts in certain subject areas
  • Provide off grade-level material that can interfere with the curriculum sequencing strategy and later result in the student’s having even greater gaps in prior knowledge than might otherwise be the result of his or her learning deficit alone
  • Put the student at a great disadvantage on assessments, which may have significant consequences for students as well as for schools
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