What are the first steps that Ms. Flores, the school principal, and the School Improvement Team should take to support students with disabilities throughout the school system?

Page 6: Make Decisions About Accommodations

faculty meeting

When it comes time to decide which test a student will take and which accommodations should be provided, general education teachers, special education teachers, parents, and the student must be a part of the decision.




Teachers generally play a lead role in deciding which test a student will take.

  • Students working toward a regular high school diploma should usually take the same assessment as other students.
  • Student who have a different curriculum (more life-skills oriented) need another form of assessment, often an alternate assessment.



Parents should be informed about the assessment their child will receive and the reasons for the decision.

  • Parents should also play a role in ensuring communication between their family and the school community.
  • Parents should help the school community understand their child’s unique strengths, educational needs, or areas of concern.



Students often know best which accommodations will be helpful to them.

  • Students should take on a sense of responsibility for their learning.
  • Students should feel that the school community provides a safe environment, which in turn develops an increased desire to learn and succeed academically.

IEP Teams


IEP teams should put great thought into selecting accommodations that will help the student without invalidating his or her test results. It can be helpful to keep the following questions in mind.

  • What is the test measuring? Do any of the accommodations conflict with what the test is measuring?
  • Which accommodations will help the student with a disability to show what he or she knows?
  • How can the skills be measured validly if needed accommodations invalidate the test?

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

Listen now as Margaret McLaughlin describes some of the decisions that must be made by IEP teams (time: 4:14).

View Transcript

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