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Accommodations vs. Modifications: What’s the Difference?

Accommodations for Students-Students with Disabilities icon_podcastsThe following is a transcription of the podcast, “Accommodations vs. Modifications: What’s the Difference? (Audio).”

In this NCLD podcast, Candace Cortiella speaks with Dr. Lindy Crawford about accommodations and modifications for students with learning disabilities (LD). Dr. Crawford is a member of the Professional Advisory Board at the National Center for Learning Disabilities. She is also an associate professor and the Ann Jones Endowed Chair in Special Education in the College of Education at Texas Christian University. And, she’s the author of NCLD’s report, State Testing Accommodations: A Look at Their Value and Validity.


Candace Cortiella: Dr. Crawford, thank you for joining us. Let’s begin by having you provide our listeners with a brief description of what is meant by accommodation.


Lindy Crawford: 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.


Let me give you an example. A student with a learning disability in reading may have difficulty reading the content and/or the questions on a history test. Therefore, he may not be able to demonstrate what he knows through reading, so a teacher or a test administrator may read the test aloud to him.


Another example would be a student with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) who might not be able to concentrate on a classroom assignment if multiple distractions are present. And so the teacher may allow the student to work in a separate setting.


In both of these examples, a change of presentation or a change of setting enables the students to demonstrate what they know without lowering the learning expectations, and without lowering the performance expectations or changing the complexity of the target skill being taught or measured.


Generally, a large number of accommodations can be grouped into five categories:


  • 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.

Tags: id-ld