Accommodations vs. Modifications What’s the difference?


I found a podcast that discusses the differences between an accommodation and a modification and why it’s important for not only teachers, but also parents and students to know the difference.   For the purpose of this post I’m focusing on only the difference between the two.  Click the link below to visit the podcast.

**I tried to make that a one word hyperlink but it wouldn’t work, remember this is my first blog 🙂 **

To sum it up Dr. Lindy Crawford of the Professional Advisory Board at the National Center for Learning Disabilities stated that,

“Accommodations are instructional or test adaptations. They allow the student to demonstrate what he or she knows without fundamentally changing the target skill that’s being taught in the classroom or measured in testing situations. Accommodations do not reduce learning or performance expectations that we might hold for students. More specifically, they change the manner or setting in which information is presented or the manner in which students respond. But they do not change the target skill or the testing construct.”

When she says, “target skill” she is referring to the TEKS. Which is the standard that guides the curriculum in Texas.    She went on to discuss five basic types of accommodations.

Timing. For example, giving a student extended time to complete a task or a test item.

 Flexible scheduling. For example, giving a student two days instead of one day to complete a project.

  Accommodated presentation of the material, meaning material is presented to the student in a fashion that’s different from a more traditional fashion.

 Setting, which includes things like completing the task or test in a quiet room or in a small group with other students.

Response accommodation, which means having the student respond perhaps orally or through a scribe.

Dr. Crawford gave this definition for modification,

“Modifications actually do change that target skill or the construct of interest. They often reduce learning expectations or affect the content in such a way that what is being taught or tested is fundamentally changed.”

Now if you teach in the state of Texas you know that even if a child receives a modified state assessment (STAAR-M) the content of the test is not “fundamentally” changed.  But the content might be “fundamentally” changed in the classroom to meet the need of the individual student.

We know that every child must be exposed to the TEKS, but if you have a student working under a modified curriculum (which they must to take a STAAR-M) then what they are responsible for mastering should (at least in theory) change.

So in short, and without starting an angry debate over our wonderful state assessment, I just wanted to remind everyone before school begins that an accommodation helps a child meet the same expectations as the rest of the class and a modification changes those expectations to meet the child’s needs.

NOTE: The podcast goes into more detail and list three problems (in the opinion of Dr. Crawford) with confusing modifications and accommodations.  For more on this topic look for future post on STAAR accommodations.


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