Selecting Accommodations: Guidance for Individual



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Selecting Accommodations:

Guidance for Individual

Educational Plan Teams

Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services

Florida Department of Education

2013


This publication is produced through the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student

Services (BEESS) Resource and Information Center, Division of Public Schools, Florida

Department of Education, and is available online at http://www.fldoe.org/ese/pub-home.asp. For information on available resources, contact the BEESS Resource and Information Center (BRIC).
BRIC website: http://www.fldoe.org/ese/clerhome.asp

Email: BRIC@fldoe.org

Telephone: 850-245-0475

Fax: 850-245-0987

Copyright

State of Florida

2013

Authorization for reproduction is hereby granted to the state system of public education consistent with section 1006.39, Florida Statutes. No authorization is granted for distribution or reproduction outside the state system of public education without prior approval in writing.








Selecting Accommodations:

Guidance for Individual

Educational Plan Teams

Marty Beech

Sue Dixon

Jan McKay








Table of Contents

Guidance on Selecting Accommodations 1

Questions 1

1. What instructional and assessment tasks are difficult for the student to do independently? Are these difficulties documented in the present level statement? 1

2. Why are these tasks difficult for the student? 2

Analysis of a Difficult Task 3

Example Task: Editing Written Work Example Task 3

Example Task: Lining up in the Classroom 4

3. What accommodations will allow the student to access the information and demonstrate performance of the tasks? 5



Criteria for Selecting Classroom Accommodations 6

Selecting Testing Accommodations 7

4. How will the IEP team know if the accommodation is effective? 9



Appendix 10

Corey 10


Danilo 14

Emma 18


References 22
Guidance on Selecting Accommodations

Each team charged with developing an individual educational plan (IEP) for a student with a disability must consider the student’s need for accommodations. Sometimes team members produce a long list of accommodations in case the student ever needs them. As a result, teams may choose unnecessary or inappropriate accommodations that can have a detrimental effect on the student’s performance (Vansciver & Conover, 2009). To ensure that the accommodations are matched to student needs, IEP teams are urged to think about the student’s needs and the potential impact of the accommodation on student performance (Gerlach, 2009, June). In addition, IEP teams should consider all accommodations within a framework that supports effective inclusion practices, such as Universal Design for Learning (UDL). Problem-solving activities identifying appropriate accommodations should align with the school’s implementation of a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS).


Under a UDL framework, many accommodations students with disabilities need should be available to all students within a universal, differentiated core learning environment. Examples include accessible instructional materials (digital text, audio, large print, etc.) and supports for presentation, comprehension, writing, scheduling, organization of materials, and following directions. By embedding these supports in universal core pedagogy, the effective use of the accommodations is supported in all classroom activities.
The following guiding questions are provided to help IEP teams select, implement, and evaluate accommodations (from Florida Department of Education, 2012).


  1. What instructional and assessment tasks are difficult for the student to do independently? Are these difficulties documented in the present level statement?

  2. Why are these tasks difficult for the student?

  3. What accommodations will allow the student to access the information and demonstrate performance of the tasks?

  4. How will the IEP team know if the accommodation is effective?

This paper provides a brief explanation of the process the IEP team should follow to answer each question. The appendix provides examples based on three IEPs included in Developing Quality Individual Educational Plans: A Guide for Instructional Personnel and Families (Beech, 2012) to show how the IEP teams used these questions to guide their selection of accommodations.


Questions


  1. What instructional and assessment tasks are difficult for the student to do independently? Are these difficulties documented in the present level statement?

To determine which accommodations a student may need, the IEP team first considers the tasks and activities the student will be expected to complete in the general curriculum. The IEP team should identify any that are currently difficult for the student to perform independently. The student’s disability may impact performance on similar tasks across a range of content or behavior. The student’s disability may impact performance on academic and nonacademic tasks. This data will come from diagnostic or in-depth assessments, progress monitoring, classroom work samples, as well as observational and anecdotal information collected by teachers, therapists, or parents. The specific difficulties should be documented in the student’s present level statement on the IEP. Difficulties may include the following:




  • Difficulty structuring main ideas and supporting details when writing essays

  • Inability to see standard print, with need for enlargement

  • Losing place while reading

  • Forgetting to turn in assignments

  • Trouble organizing personal space and activities

  • Problems maintaining attention and effort

The student’s IEP may also describe accommodations that the student has used in the past. They may be described in the present level statement, the annual goals, or in the services section where classroom and testing accommodations or supplementary aids and services are listed. The IEP team will need to determine if the student continues to need these accommodations or if changes are necessary.




  1. Why are these tasks difficult for the student?

To identify which accommodations the student needs, the team should determine why these tasks are difficult for the student. To do this, the team analyzes the critical elements of the task to determine which specific aspects of the tasks are problematic for the student. Each task involves critical elements, including cognitive, motor, sensory, social or emotional, and communication elements in the skills and behaviors used to carry out the task (Zabala, 2010).


To analyze a student’s difficulty with a task, IEP team members first identify the expected grade-level or age-appropriate performance for each critical element of the task. They then review available student data to determine how the student currently performs the task. The team should consider any standard classroom tools, equipment, or assistive technology the student currently uses and answer the following questions:


  • Is the student able to use the tool or assistive technology effectively and efficiently?

  • Does the student have the knowledge and skills needed to perform the task?

  • Has the student received instruction in using the tool or other type of accommodation?

  • Are environmental supports or barriers present?

Gaps in performance will become evident, and the IEP team can make more precise decisions about possible accommodations or interventions the student will need. Use this chart to analyze the critical elements of the task and compare them to what the student can do now.




Analysis of a Difficult Task

Student: ______________________________________________________

Task: _________________________________________________________


Critical Elements

What Student Can Do Now

Is There a Gap?

Cognitive










Sensory










Motor










Social/Emotional










Communication











Example Task: Editing Written Work
The present level statement indicates that the student turns in written work that addresses the topic, but has many errors in spelling and grammar. Teachers report that the student has difficulty editing his own work. To determine what kind of accommodation the student needs, the IEP team will look more closely at the critical elements of editing and compare them with what the student currently does in order to identify any gaps.
A student may have difficulty with the task of editing written work for a variety of reasons. The student may have inadequate knowledge of language and writing conventions. The student may have trouble using a pen or pencil to mark the errors. The student may have difficulty maintaining attention to complete the task and edits only the beginning of the essay. Each of these difficulties calls for a different kind of accommodation.


Critical Elements

What the Student Can Do Now

Is There a Gap?

Cognitive

  1. Recognize whether written work reflects the intended purpose, audience, organization, and content

  2. Recognize and correct errors in grammar and writing conventions—sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation

  3. Revise words and punctuation to improve clarity, accuracy, and grammatical correctness

  1. Recognizes whether written work reflects the intended purpose, audience, organization, and content

  2. Recognizes, but does not correct, errors in grammar and writing conventions—sentence structure, spelling, and punctuation

  3. Revises words and punctuation to improve clarity and accuracy of meaning; does not revise words and punctuation to improve grammatical correctness

No

Yes


Yes

Sensory

  1. See the writing on the paper

  1. Sees the writing on the paper

No

Motor

  1. Sit in position for writing

  2. Manipulate a writing instrument

  1. Sits in position for writing

  2. Has trouble holding pencil to mark edits on paper

No

Yes


Social/Emotional

  1. Work independently

  2. Maintain attention until task is complete

  1. Works independently

  2. Maintains attention on task for five minutes, only edits first part of writing

No

Yes


Communication

  1. Identify needed changes to content and mechanics

  1. Identifies some, but not all, needed changes to content and mechanics

Yes


Example Task: Lining up in the Classroom
Nonacademic tasks required for active involvement in the classroom also have critical elements. The present level statement may indicate that the student has difficulty lining up for lunch and is late getting to the cafeteria four out of five days each week. A student may understand the purpose of lining up, but lines up only when the teacher takes her by the hand. She may not be able to hear the verbal command. She may run into furniture or other students when she is getting into line because other things going on in the classroom distract her. She may stand too close to other students and not know how to keep from touching those who have crossed into her personal space when standing in line. The problems are varied, but the results are the same; the student does not independently line up for a school activity. The team needs to look more closely at the critical elements for lining up to determine what the student needs.


Critical Elements

What the Student Can Do Now

Is There a Gap?

Cognitive




  1. Recognize a line of students

  2. Understand purpose of lining up

  3. Know where the line begins

  4. Know how to get in line

  1. Recognizes a line of students

  2. Understands purpose of lining up

  3. Knows where the line begins

  4. Knows how to get in line

No

No
No

No


Sensory

  1. Recognize the spoken instruction to get in line

  2. Avoid bumping into furniture, equipment, and other students when moving in the room

  1. Cannot hear the verbal command

  2. Is distracted by noises and motion when getting into line and bumps into furniture and students

Yes
Yes

Motor

  1. Move into position to be part of the line

  1. Moves into position to be part of the line

No

Social/Emotional

  1. Maintain acceptable personal space

  2. Stay calm and quiet and keep hands close to the body

  1. Stands too close to other students

  2. Touches other students who get into her personal space

Yes
Yes

Communication

  1. Follow signal or verbal instructions

  1. Follows visual signal or verbal instruction presented in sign language

No




  1. What accommodations will allow the student to access the information and demonstrate performance of the tasks?

Disabilities can have a wide range of effects on student performance. Sometimes the disability makes it difficult or even impossible for the student to perform one or more critical elements of the task. For example, a student with a visual impairment may be unable to see well enough to edit an essay and need an alternate method for accessing the written word. A student who cannot speak may need an alternate mode of communication to participate in classroom discussions. A student may need some type of support from a person, assistive device, or accessible instructional materials to be able use standard tools and textbooks to complete a task. Task adaptations reduce the length or complexity of the practice or test items and make assignments or test items more accessible. Accommodations provide alternate methods, supports, or task adaptations (Beech, 2010a), such as the following:


Alternate Method Dictate to a scribe or use voice recognition software instead of writing with a pencil

Support Use a word processor on a computer instead of a pencil

Task Adaptation Break the assignment into segments so student can write with a pencil for short periods of time
When thinking about possible accommodations for a student, the IEP team may consider assistive technology, accessible instructional materials, and environmental adaptations. The team should make sure the specific features of the accommodations match the student’s abilities and needs in the critical elements or areas of motor skills, cognition and comprehension, language processing, and senses (vision, hearing, and tactile) to the specific features of the accommodation. In some cases, students may need a combination of accommodations to be able to perform the tasks.
The IEP team is responsible for supporting the student in the selection, acquisition, and effective use of appropriate assistive technologies. As an assistive technology service, the IEP team can recommend an assistive technology assessment. The assistive technology assessment should take place in the student’s customary educational setting so that a functional evaluation can be conducted of the challenges or tasks that the student finds difficult or impossible. Assistive technology assessments should be student centered and include the professional staff from the student’s customary educational setting. The team should consider adding additional expertise to the technology assessment team, such as the speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, or assistive technology specialist. Many districts have procedures for working with local assistive technology specialists, regional local assistive technology specialists, and Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services discretionary project staff. The results of assistive technology assessment will provide valuable information and insight toward the selection, acquisition, and use of assistive technology devices.
Members of IEP teams can also use their own expertise to identify appropriate accommodations, assistive technology, and strategies to address the student’s difficult tasks. Involving the student in decisions about accommodations is critical. The student can provide personal insights in determining which accommodations are both necessary and acceptable. Additional resources may be used, such as Accommodations: Assisting Students with Disabilities (Beech, 2010a), Guide to FCAT and FCAT 2.0 Accommodations for Students with Disabilities (Beech, 2010b), Guide to Accommodations for Computer-Based FCAT, FCAT 2.0, and EOC Assessments (Beech, Spring 2012) published by the Florida Department of Education. Test administration manuals for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT), End-of-Course (EOC) Assessments, and Florida Alternate Assessment (FAA) provide lists of allowable accommodations.
Criteria for Selecting Classroom Accommodations
After the IEP team members have considered a number of possible accommodations, they are ready to support the student in selecting the accommodation. The IEP team can use the following criteria to evaluate the potential effectiveness of an accommodation:
Necessary—Does the student require the accommodation to perform the task?
A necessary accommodation:


  • Reduces or eliminates the effect of the disability

  • Increases the student’s ability to accomplish the task

This criterion is straightforward when applied to specialized presentation formats and alternate response modes. For example, students who use sign language may need an interpreter to access spoken language. It may be more difficult for other types of accommodations. For example, IEP teams frequently recommend allowing extended time to complete assignments and tests. However, a student may need extended time for some, but not all kinds of tasks.


Independence—Can the student perform the task more independently with the accommodation?
An accommodation that promotes independence:


  • Is easy to use; the least complex alternative

  • Supports continued skill development and promotes self-sufficiency

As a rule, the goal is to choose the simplest tool that meets the student’s needs. If the accommodation is too complicated, it may be abandoned. Reducing a student’s need for an accommodation through instruction or environmental support should also be considered. For example, a student who needs help keeping track of due dates may first use an assignment list from the teacher and then learn how to use a personal calendar.


Generalizable—Can the student use the accommodation for similar tasks in different environments?
An accommodation that is generalizable:


  • Can be used for similar tasks

  • Can be used in different settings

An ideal accommodation is one the student can use across different environments. Portable and unobtrusive accommodations are more easily transferred to other settings.


Acceptable—Will the student consistently use the accommodation?
The student:


  • Is capable of learning how and knowing when to use the accommodation

  • Is willing to use the accommodation

  • Prefers the specific accommodation over others that are effective

The team must make sure the student is able to learn to use the accommodation in a satisfactory timeframe, considering any physical, sensory, cognitive, behavioral, or communication problems that affect its use. Some students are unwilling to use an accommodation because it makes them look different from their peers. The use of a UDL framework to make accommodations available universally can increase the effectiveness of many accommodations by decreasing user rejection based on appearing different. Tools and language are consistent for all students.


Selecting Testing Accommodations
When the IEP team selects classroom accommodations for a student, they must also think about accommodations for state and district assessments. The student will generally use the same type of accommodations in the classroom and on state and district assessments. Accommodations allowed for state tests, such as the FCAT 2.0 and EOC Assessments, are described in the test administration manuals. Some accommodations may not be used on the state tests. If a student needs to use a nonallowed accommodation in the classroom, parents must acknowledge in writing they understand potential consequences of using this nonallowed accommodation in the classroom. Written parental consent must be obtained for the student’s use of the accommodation.
Some students with disabilities may require unique accommodations for the FCAT 2.0 and EOC Assessments. Unique accommodations generally involve altering the test materials, such as fewer items per page or increased space between items. The unique accommodation must not alter the concepts or skills being assessed, and the student must use the unique accommodation in classroom instruction. Unique accommodations require prior approval from the Commissioner of Education or designee.
The form on the next page may be used to rate each accommodation under consideration in order to make more informed decisions about accommodations. The IEP team will review each of the criteria, including whether the accommodation can be used on statewide assessments, to select the most appropriate accommodation. Ideally, the accommodation should meet all criteria. If the accommodation does not meet all criteria, the team may determine the accommodation is still the best fit for the student at this time. The team may also determine that the student will need a combination of accommodations to be able to perform the tasks required in the general curriculum.

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