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  • Writer's pictureSarah Tira

Accommodation versus Modification

It can be really easy to mix up accommodations and modifications on your child’s IEP. But, even though they can seem similar, accommodations and modifications can produce drastically different results in your child’s educational program. It’s important to know what type of supports your child is receiving because if your child is receiving modifications, it is likely they will not qualify for a high school diploma at the end of their educational career. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to make sure everyone is on the same page (check out my earlier blog post about high school diplomas versus certificates of completion for more information on that topic).

Accommodations change the way your child accesses information. Your child is still expected to learn the same information as the rest of their general education peers, but maybe the presentation of material needs to be slightly different. Maybe the assessments look different to help teachers find out what your child really knows. Or, maybe your child needs extra time to process information.

Modifications, on the other hand, change what your child is learning. The modifications may be slight, or they may be a drastic change to your child’s entire educational program. Children who are receiving modifications may not get graded for their classwork. Or, they may simply receive credit or no credit for assignments. Children receiving modifications may also be working on a completely different curriculum than their general education peers. Modifications are more common for children who have moderate to severe disabilities.

Sometimes, for a child with less significant disabilities, the difference between an accommodation and modification can be very confusing. For example, a calculator can be used either as an accommodation or modification when it is used for different purposes. If the purpose of the calculator is to aid a child in calculations, but we aren’t testing their calculation skills, it’s an accommodation. But, if the rest of the class is learning about addition and your child uses the calculator to participate instead of learning how calculations work, they are using a modification. The same could be said for notetaking. If your child is given class notes, it is most likely an accommodation. But, if the teacher is teaching note taking skills, receiving the class notes could actually be a modification.

Even at a young age, it’s important to know what is being modified for your child. If your child is not working on grade level standards at a young age, it will get more and more difficult to catch up as they get older. Reach out to an advocate today if you would like more information!

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