Accommodations provided for students with disabilities, or learning differences, help them access information and demonstrate what they know. These accommodations are not meant to lower academic standards or expectations. Accommodations must be integral to the normal cycle of teaching and testing—never reserved only for assessment periods.
Classroom accommodations allow students to learn and demonstrate their learning through full participation in classroom instruction. If you’re a parent of a child with dyslexia, you must learn more about the services, accommodations, and modifications available on individual educational plans (IEP). Let’s break it down.
The Individual Educational Plan (IEP)
Every child with a disability who is eligible for ESE will have an IEP. This comprehensive written plan tells parents, the child, teachers, and other school staff which ESE services the school will provide your child. IEPs are developed during team meetings, and typically parents are involved in this process. The idea of IEPs is to outline different items, such as:
- The present level of academic achievement and functional performance
- Measurable annual goals
- Short-term objectives
- How progress will be measured and reported
- ESE services
- Accommodations for classroom and testing
- Accommodations in the administration of state- and district-wide assessments
- Florida alternate assessment
- Placement and least restrictive environment settings
Types of Services
Once you agree to the IEP, the services should start right away. At this point, parents are presented with a service matrix that reflects the level of services listed on the IEP in these areas:
- Learning environment
- Social and emotional behavior
- Independent functioning
Services included in this list must be services the child is receiving.
Accommodations or Modifications?
When discussing IEPs, accommodations and modifications will arise. Accommodations are adaptations to tests or instructions, allowing students to demonstrate knowledge without changing classroom skills. They should change the setting in which information is presented or how students respond.
On the other hand, modifications are test adaptations that allow students to demonstrate what they can do, but target skills are reduced or altered in some way. Modifications often lower performance expectations.
Your child’s IEP team is responsible for making modifications and/or accommodations as warranted.
Choosing Accommodations Purposefully
Because everyone is unique, each accommodation request must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Students with disabilities must be accommodated so they are on equal footing with those who do not have a disability. These should be integrated into the classroom and tested before use is expected in assessments.
Types of Accommodations
There are many types of accommodations available for students with dyslexia. Students must learn how to use them effectively for them to be successful.
- Presentation: These accommodations allow students to access instructional materials that don’t require reading standard print. Instead, it’s presented with verbal instructions, larger print, fewer items per page, or audio format, for example.
- Response: Such accommodations allow students different options for completing activities, tests, and assignments. Students could demonstrate their knowledge in other ways, such as marking answers in the test book, recording oral responses on an audio recorder, pointing to response choices, or typing their responses.
- Setting: These accommodations change the location in which assignments are given. This means that students can join smaller groups or individual settings, take the test in distraction-free settings, and that staff could try to reduce visual or auditory distractions.
- Scheduling: Such accommodations change the time allowed to complete test assignments. Whether that means providing flexible scheduling, extended time, or allowing for more frequent breaks.
Road to Success for Students with Dyslexia
For students with dyslexia, it is possible to create a level playing field through appropriate intervention and accommodations. Accommodations such as extended time can be the critical difference between success and failure for these students. Educators must plan appropriate intervention strategies in conjunction with accommodations to ensure success for each student.
If you’re a parent of a child with dyslexia, consider speaking to your child’s teachers and tutors to better understand the services, accommodations, and modifications available. Enforcing these accommodations early in your child’s education can pave the way for later success.