If you are a classroom teacher, more likely than not you have at least one student with an IEP or Individual Education Plan. This plan is a written, legal document that outlines the student's disability or exceptionality, his present levels of performance, and educational and/or social-emotional goals. During the IEP meeting, much of the discussion is focused on which specific accommodations that the student needs in order access the curriculum and meet his or her goals.
In this blog post, I will discuss what accommodations are, provide examples of each type, and show you how to use a classroom accommodations checklist for your special education students.
What are accommodations?
An accommodation is a change in environment or content delivery, or the use of special equipment, that allows students with a disability to access and learn the same curriculum as their non-disabled peers. Accommodations are not modifications. A modification changes the content of the curriculum that the child is expected to learn. The easiest way to understand the difference: Accommodations are changes to how a student learns while modifications change what they are expected to learn.
Do not change or reduce what the student is required to learn
Do not reduce the requirements of the learning task
An IEP will specify which accommodations are to be used in the classroom and which are allowed during state testing.
What are the 4 types of accommodations?
For the purpose of an IEP, accommodations fall into one of four categories: presentation, response, setting, and timing/scheduling.
What are some examples of classroom accommodations?
Exactly which accommodations a student receives depends on the child and they will often have more than one type on their IEP. Here are some examples of each type that you may encounter:
providing visual aids or graphic organizers
large print books
providing oral directions
having a human reader
color coding information
repeating or clarifying directions
using text to speech devices
braille or sign language
allowing oral responses
using a scribe
writing directly in the test booklet (instead of bubble sheets)
increased wait time
using speech to text devices
graphic organizers for written responses
using math manipulatives to solve
small group instruction and testing
Timing or Scheduling
extra time to complete assignments
frequent short breaks
testing in several shorter sessions
breaking assignments into smaller tasks
special schedule changes
How to Use an Accommodations Checklist
All of this information can be a little bit confusing for the parent and even teachers in the general education classrooms. That's why, as a special education teacher, I always take time to review my IEPs with the classroom teachers and help them understand all of the jargon. I do this at the beginning of the school year with their list of new students and after each new staffing throughout the year.
One thing that I have found incredibly helpful is giving teachers an accommodation checklist for each of their students. It's something they can keep and refer to as needed. The checklist should be provided in both a full-page format and a smaller (half to quarter page) size. The smaller one can be easily stapled to any assignment or test to show which accommodations the student received. This is a great and easy way for a teacher to document any instructional accommodations provided in the classroom!
Another smart, and often required, spot to keep a list of accommodations is in your lesson plans. In this day and age of lawsuits, you must be able to demonstrate that you are aware of, understand, and are following a student's IEP. There is no wiggle room here!
Last, you will want to share a simple checklist with the student's parents as well. Why? It's important for the child to get the same accommodations on homework assignments as he or she does on classwork. I try to write my checklist in clear language that parents can understand and I include my email address and phone number in case they have any questions!
Printable IEP Accommodations Checklist
To make things easy, I have created editable versions of my checklists that I would love to share with you!
Be sure to include the child's full name and student ID at the top of the checklist for documentation purposes.
Only check the accommodations that are actually on the student's IEP. The ones I have included are suggestions of commonly used accommodations. They may or may not apply to your student.
Make multiple copies so you can use them regularly as suggested above.
If you are a SPED teacher, give copies to the classroom teachers so they can use the checklist too - team effort!
To access the free templates, just click on the image below. You will be able to download, edit, and begin using these accommodations checklists right away.
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