Accommodations are changes in instructional and testing practices and procedures that enable students to participate in assessments in a way that measures abilities rather than disabilities. In the absence of accommodations, the classroom evaluation of student work and other assessments, including statewide assessments, may not accurately measure the student’s knowledge and skills.
Accommodations are generally grouped into the following categories:
Presentation (e.g., repetition of directions, reading aloud, braille, large print, visuals, etc.)
Equipment and Material (e.g., calculator, amplification equipment, manipulatives, voice recognition system, etc.)
Response (e.g., oral, scribe records student’s response, point to a response, mark answers in a book, etc.}
Setting (e.g., private study space, separate room, student’s home, etc.)
Timing/Scheduling (e.g., additional time, untimed, frequent breaks, preferred time of day, etc.)
These accommodations are for students with IEPs or 504 plans and students identified as English Language Learners (ELL). Accommodations are designed to allow students with special needs to demonstrate what they know and can do in the academic content standards areas. Otherwise their performance may only show the impact of their disability or language learning needs.
Accommodations provided to a student during state assessments must also be provided during classroom instruction, classroom assessments and district assessments; however, some instructional accommodations may not be appropriate for use on certain statewide assessments. Educators should consult state policies before determining which accommodations should be provided on statewide assessments. Accommodations must be selected and implemented in ways that maintain the integrity of the assessment so that valid judgments can be made about what students know and can do.
The Procedures Manual for the Minnesota Assessments 2013-2014 (www.mnstateassessments.org/…/2013-2014_Procedures_Manual_final.pdf) contains essential information in the following chapters that will be useful for reference as you proceed through this course:
Chapter 5, which addresses participation of students with IEPs and 504 plans (page 89)
Chapter 6, which addresses participation of English Learners (EL) (page 121)
Chapter 7, which addresses participation of students in special circumstances and situations (page 137)
The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) recognizes that school personnel may consider accommodations that are not specifically addressed here yet may be entirely appropriate for a particular student and assessment. If school personnel determine the need to provide an accommodation not specifically addressed, please notify MDE by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to verify that the accommodation will not invalidate the assessment.
Modifications, on the other hand, are significant alterations to the curriculum standards. Modifications may alter, reduce, or lower the standards or expectations for a grade level, subject, or assessment. In effect, a student is allowed to learn less material than his peers. The rigor of coursework and test scores is reduced; therefore, modifications should be used sparingly and only with the most significantly disabled students.