Have you ever been in an IEP meeting and heard people say “let’s provide the child with modification in the IEP”? Or maybe they said, “we can add more accommodations to the IEP.”
Is there a difference? Does it even matter what terminology we use, accommodation or modifications? Aren’t they the same thing?
No matter if you are a service provider, teacher, or parent it is important to know that yes there is a difference and, in this blog, I will share what that difference is and why it is important.
Offer of FAPE- Services
There is a section in the IEP that some refer to as the “service page.” This section shares what services will be provided to the student. This includes accommodations, modifications, and the service minutes.
What are accommodations?
Understood.org states that “An accommodation changes how a student learns the material.” What this means is that the student is accessing the same general education curriculum as their peers but they may access it differently. For example, a child may need extra time to complete an assignment. So, they may have extended time. Another child may have a visual processing disorder so they have accommodation to audiobooks. There is a specific section on the Services page that allows the IEP team to add accommodations to the IEP to support the child in accessing the general education curriculum.
Examples: Extended time, pre-filled notes, audiobooks, preferential seating, breaks, reduced amount of math problems, etc…
What are modifications?
Also, according to understood.org, “a modification changes what a student is taught or expected to learn.” This means that the curriculum is being changed. The student is no longer accessing the same curriculum as their peers. The curriculum is either being simplified and expectations of understanding is deemed by the IEP team. They may respond orally, do a project or show other alternative means of understanding the modified curriculum.
Examples: reading material could be 1-2 grade levels below their peers, project-based assignments, tests are different than everyone else, etc…
Why it Matters
So, it is extremely important to note that these are two different things in an IEP. We cannot use the words interchangeably when talking about an IEP. I have seen IEPS where accommodations were accidentally written under modifications and changes needed to be made. Furthermore, when talking about modifications it is important to know if the curriculum is being changed, the student may not receive credit for that class (high school/middle school setting) since they are not accessing the general education curriculum.
How to Prepare
Before your IEP meeting, have an informal check-in with service providers, teachers, and staff and ask what they think would be appropriate accommodations to share out at the meeting. Most of the time, students receive accommodations.
When the IEP team is thinking about modifications, make sure you are including the counselor as they may not receive credit for classes, and seek out alternative placements as well.
Author - Adrienne L. Oliveira, Special Education Teacher