Updated March 2021
Accommodations and Modifications are types of adaptations that affect
instructional arrangement, lesson format, specific learning strategies
and curricular goals. These adaptations are used to provide eligible students
equal opportunity to obtain the same results, to gain the same benefit,
or to reach the same level of achievement in the most integrated setting
appropriate to the student's needs. Adaptations should not provide the
student with an unfair advantage over others, or invalidate an assessment.
The term "Accommodation" typically refers to adaptations which
do not fundamentally alter or lower standards or expectations in either
the instructional or assessment phases of a course of study, and allows
the student to demonstrate mastery of performance standards. "Modifications"
refer to adaptations which do alter or lower standards, resulting in a
fundamental change in curriculum content or evidence of mastery. Modifications
will necessitate an alternate assessment or modified grade, which may
affect credit toward graduation.
Requirements in the Law for Students with Disabilities
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA '04)
and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require that individuals
with disabilities are to receive a free and appropriate public education
(FAPE) which must occur in the least restrictive environment (LRE), with
supplemental aids and services, when necessary. Aids, services, and other
supports that are provided in regular education classes or other education-related
settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with non-disabled
children to the maximum extent appropriate are required by Federal Regulation
sections 300.39(b)(3) and 300.42.
Adaptations in General Education
Adaptations are permissible changes in curriculum which allow the student
equal opportunity to obtain access, results and benefits. General adaptations
for curriculum access and for the demonstration of learning mastery are
available to students in the general education program. Teachers may adapt
curriculum activities, instruction or access in order to promote the learning
of any child; however, for a child with a disability those requirements
in the law identified above require that we consider accommodations and/or
modifications to assist a student with a disability to access and participate
with non-disabled peers.
Accommodations are adaptations which do not fundamentally alter or lower
standards or expectations. They provide access to participate in the LRE
and provide for an opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery of
performance standards. Accommodations may be used to describe an alteration
of environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows an individual
with a disability to gain access to content and/or provide the ability
to complete assigned tasks. Accommodations allow students with disabilities
to pursue a regular course of study. Since accommodations do not alter
what is being taught, instructors should be able to implement the same
grading standards for students with disabilities as they do for students
without disabilities. Some examples of accommodations include:
- sign language interpreters for students who are deaf;
- computer text-to-speech computer-based systems for students with visual
impairments or Dyslexia;
- extended time for students with fine motor limitations, visual impairments,
or learning disabilities;
- specialized seating supports;
- spell-checker for a student with writing difficulties;
- large-print books and worksheets for students with visual impairments;
- alternative keyboards for students who cannot operate standard mice
Modifications are adaptations which do alter or lower standards or expectations.
Modifications may be used to describe a change in the curriculum. They
are made for students, who because of their disability are unable to comprehend
all of the content an instructor is teaching. For example, assignments
might be modified significantly for an elementary school student with
cognitive impairments that limit his/her ability to understand the content
in the general education class in which they are included. The use of
modifications often necessitates an alternate assessment or modified grade.
Types of Classroom Adaptations
Classroom adaptations are selected individually for each child to reflect
his or her learning and participation requirements. Following an assessment,
the IEP team will determine whether adaptations are required for a student
to access the core curriculum or alternate curriculum. Adaptations selected
will afford the student the opportunity to demonstrate competence or participate,
but are not designed to be guarantees that the student will achieve the
same level of success as his or her non-disabled peers.
Classroom adaptations typically fall into one of nine types or categories,
based upon the research of Jeff Sprague, Ph.D. Some of these fundamentally
alter the mastery of course material and may require a change in the basis
Adapt the number of items that the learner is expected to learn
Example: Reduce the number of math problems required or the number
to state capitols to memorize.
Adapt the time allotted or allowed for learning, task completing
Example: Individualize a timeline for completing a project or
pace activities differently.
Level of Support
Increase the amount of personal assistance for a student.
Example: Assign peer buddies, teaching assistants, peer tutors,
or cross-age tutors.
Adapt the way instruction is delivered to the learner.
Example: Use different visual aids, enlarge text, provide more
concrete examples, provide hands-on activities, place students
in cooperative groups.
Adapt the skill level, problem type, or the rules on how the learner
may approach the work.
Example: Allow the use of a calculator to figure math problems,
simplify task directions, change rules to accommodate learner
Adapt how the student can respond to instruction.
Example: Allow verbal responses instead of written, use a communication
book or device, allow student to show knowledge with hands-on
Adapt the extent to which a learner is actively involved in the
Example: In geography, have the student hold the globe, while
others are required to point out locations.
Adapt the goals or outcome expectations while using the same materials.
Example: In social science, expect the student to locate states
on a map, while other students are learning to locate capitals,
Provide different instruction and materials to meet the student's
Example: During a language arts exam, the student is practicing
computer skills in the computer lab.
If the IEP team determines that a student requires adaptations in a general
education class, the IEP chairperson must provide the general education
teacher(s) a copy of the IEP and any instruction the teacher(s) need(s)
in implementing those adaptations. In some districts, the general education
teacher may be required to document that he or she understands their specific
responsibilities in implementing the student's IEP.
If students require the use of adaptations in the classroom, as reported
as Supplemental Aids and Supports in the IEP, some of those adaptations
may also be allowed on the required State tests. Please consult the Statewide
Testing Chapter of the Contra Costa SELPA Procedures Guide for more information.
For a precise explanation of the types of adaptations allowed on the
different tests in the State Testing Programs, go to: https://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/documents/caasppmatrix1.pdf
All students with disabilities shall participate in state and district-wide
assessment programs. The IEP team determines how a student will access
assessments with or without accommodations, or access alternate assessments,
consistent with state standards governing such determinations.
For preschool students participating in state-wide assessments, currently
the DRDP (2015), there are specific adaptations identified that increases
the student's comfort or improves the availability of sensory input. One
of the important features of the DRDP (2015) is the use of adaptations.
Adaptations are changes in the environment or differences in observed
behavior that allow children with IFSPs and IEPs to be most accurately
assessed in their typical settings. All adaptations used are based on
each individual child's needs and are not tied to any specific disability.
The seven categories of adaptations for the DRDP (2015) serve an essential
function - to make sure that the instrument measures ability rather than
- Augmentative or alternative communication system- Methods of communication
other than speech that allow a child who is unable to use spoken language
to communicate with others.
- Alternative Mode for Written Language- Methods of reading or writing
used by a child who cannot see well enough to read or write or cannot
hold and manipulate a writing utensil (e.g., pencil, pen) well enough
to produce written symbols.
- Visual Support Adjustments to the environment that provide additional
information to a child who has limited or reduced visual input.
- Assistive Equipment or Device Tools that make it possible or easier
for a child to perform a task.
- Functional Positioning Strategic positioning and postural support
that allow a child to have increased control of his body.
- Sensory Support Increasing or decreasing sensory input to facilitate
a child's attention and interaction in the environment.
- Alternative Response Mode The form of a child's behavior may differ
from typical development (such as avoiding looking at people while speaking
to them) but still be rated as demonstrating mastery. This adaptation
allows for differences in the child's behavior rather than modifications
to the environment.
For more information on preschool adaptations please go to: https://draccess.org/adaptations
Information Currently Identified in the Document Library in SEIS:
|Access to a word processor
Provide hard copy of class notes
Allow oral response
Note taking assistance
Additional time to complete assignments
Use personal dictionary or thesaurus
Graphic organizers to plan writing
Allow extra time for written response
Use visual instructional aids
|Books on tape
Use study sheet/key words highlighted
Use visual aids to add meaning
Allow students to highlight key points
Use small group instruction
Use pair or choral response
Present vocabulary visually
Gave examples of vocabulary in student language/primary language
Use study aids
Provide written and verbal directions
Break assignments into smaller tasks
Give extended time for completion of tasks
Allow oral responses
Sequence steps by numbering them
Give directions in small steps
Provide more space on sheet
Remind of due dates for long term projects
Use of calendar/planner
Give vocabulary cards in student language
Use math charts
Use computation aids
Use graph paper to align numbers
Use mnemonic devices
Use peer partner
Provide fact table for reference
Give more space on paper
Read word problems out loud
Break word problems into smaller steps
|Provide study questions/sheet
Read aloud questions
Allow oral responses
Vary the test format
Give extra time for completion
Give test over more than one day
Allow small group testing
Simplify language on tests/quizzes
Give content vocabulary in student language
Give content vocabulary with pictures
Use video to support text
Substitute projects for written work
Substitute worksheets for projects
Substitute worksheets for written work
Use a note taker
Set clearly defined standards
Limit number of defined standards
Use private signals to remind student
Preferential seating (Need to face the student, free from visual
Monitor transitions carefully
Give student a job to divert student
Let student take a break/walk
Supervision during unstructured time
Cues/prompts/reminders of rules / procedures
|Use peer tutoring
Pairs or small group work
Present one task at a time
Provide copy of class notes
Use visuals in oral presentation
Provide copy of projected material
Teach specific study skills
Allow varied student responses
Provide written and verbal instructions
Highlight key points within written material
Encourage student to repeat directions orally
Slow your pace
Frequent checks for understanding
Instructions/directions repeated or rephrased
Preferential seating (explain)
The IEP team must determine whether the student's grades in core curriculum
areas will be based upon standards that apply to non-disabled students,
or upon an alternative standard. In most cases an accommodation would
not be considered an alternative standard. If the team determines that
an alternative standard will be used, a description of that standard or
modification needs to be noted in the IEP document. Some options for grading
when accommodations are applicable include:
- Grades based upon performance given stated accommodations
- Grades based upon performance on an alternative standard
- Pass/Fail grades only Grades in mainstreamed classes to be assigned
by Special Education Teacher
- Grades assigned collaboratively between Core and Special Education
- Grades based on assignments completed in class Grading by individual
contract with core subject teacher
- Report card grades should provide accurate feedback for the student
and the parent on where the student's accomplishments fall on the continuum
of the curriculum expectations. When grading a student with special
needs using a standards-based report card, a teacher must be very clear
that she is rating the student compared with non-disabled peers.
While report cards are indicators of student progress that are distributed
to students and parents only, transcripts are permanent records that are
shared with other agencies. Transcripts may not reflect that students
were enrolled in Special Education courses. They may indicate that
the curriculum was modified, only if the school offers modified courses
to non-disabled students.
Special Circumstances Instructional Assistance (SCIA)
Special Circumstances Instructional Assistance (SCIA) is provided for
students with disabilities when additional support is necessary for the
student to meet his or her goals and objectives. Whenever necessary, additional
assistance may be assigned to a school environment or class. Occasionally,
however, a student may require individual support for a designated period
of time to address a unique need. By law, services to students with special
needs must be delivered in "the least restrictive environment".
When the IEP team is considering SCIA, all aspects of the student's program
must be considered. A SCIA request is made only after other documented
site interventions have proven unsuccessful. A student's educational program
must be carefully evaluated to determine when and where the additional
support is required. Natural supports and existing staff should be used
whenever possible to promote educational benefit in the least restrictive
environment. A primary goal for all students with special needs is to
encourage, support, and maximize independence. Additional assistance must
be targeted to the identified areas of need and carefully monitored for
progress, as well as the IEP team periodically reviewing the continued
need and effectiveness of this additional support. If not monitored and
reviewed this assistance may unintentionally foster dependence, rather
State Education Code Reference: 56205 (a)
Federal References: 20 USC Section 1412 (a) (16)
here to download and print "Procedures Guide-Accommodations and Modifications"
Updated July 2020