The Difference Between Modifications and Accommodations

As parents, you may have seen on the Individualized Education Program or better known as the IEP, words like modifications and accommodations.  But are the differences in these words ever explained to you by your school’s IEP coordinator or child’s teacher?  If not, I’m hoping to shed some light on what they mean and what to look for when seeing them on the IEP.

Accommodation:  Supports how the student learns the materials provided

Modification:  Changes what curriculum is given to the student to learn

Let’s start with modifications.  If a student is significantly delayed in their academic skills, the teacher would include modifications on the IEP to the curriculum.  This would alter what is expected for them to learn.  For example, if the student was in 6th grade, but academically, they were functioning on a 1st grade level, the teacher would be able to write goals/objectives into the IEP that support curriculum on a 1st grade level program.  The goal is to allow the student to learn on their instructional level and feel confident in that process.  Some common examples of modifications can include: (learning below grade level curriculum, creating alternate projects to turn in, different homework assignments, and/or different test questions from peers.)

Accommodations are used for students who are working at or near grade level and need those extra supports to help them to learn the same materials as their peers.  Some examples of this include: (audiobooks, class notes given ahead of time, alternate seating, extra time on assignments/tests, calculator, spell check, graphic organizers, speech-to-text, text-to-speech, highlighters, small group setting for testing, noise canceling headphones, and/or a computer to help with writing assignments instead of pencil/paper).  These are just a few examples that can help learners be successful in the classroom.  


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