Modifications and Accommodations

How to improve instruction while maintaining academic vigor

Keepting the testing 'field' fair and equal

Students identified with special needs, with Individualized Educational Programs or (IEPs) and those under the provision for 504 statutes are allowed a number of testing accommodations and modifications. Some examples include:

  • How the assessment is presented—enlarged text, braille versions or simplified language of test questions and human readers
  • How they respond to test items— voice-to-text software, scribed responses or alternative means of demonstrating knowledge
  • Where and under what conditions assessments are administered—minimized distractions or even one-to-one administration
  • When do sessions take place—extended time & frequent breaks/testing over multiple days
  • What is accommodation vs. modification?

Accommodations do not affect assessment content. They simply provide a means for a student with a disability to access the grade level curriculum. The standards of achievement are neither lowered nor limited; accommodations provide a bridge to assessment materials in order for the student to participate.

Modifications on the other hand, may involve changes to the assessment expectations in terms of the tests' complexity, while addressing the same content, modifications include participation supports that meet the intensive need of the student.

  • How do I determine the assessment needs of each student?
    It is not always obvious what accommodations or modifications are needed for each.

Some student characteristics to consider when choosing accommodations might include the level of student distractability (priority seating), maximum time for attention to independent tasks (frequent breaks), visual perception deficits (smaller number of items per page) or visual acuity deficits (enlarged or otherwise altered test fonts). Students with limited cognitive skills may require more intensive modifications to actual test content.