Assessing Students with Exceptionalities

Instructor: Shannon Orr
Not every student learns the same way and at the same pace. This lesson discusses how teachers can assess students with exceptionalities. We will also discuss the differences between an IEP and a 504 plan.

Reaching All Students

Many students who have a need for extra assistance are able to learn as long as the material is presented in an accessible manner. Certain modifications or adjustments may need to be made in order for them to understand the information they are required to learn.

IEP and 504

In order for students to receive certain accommodations in the classroom, they must first meet specific criteria. An Individualized Education Program is a plan that is developed to ensure that students with certain academic limitations receive the help they need in order to be successful. Students with IEPs also receive special education services. An IEP team consisting of the general education teacher, special education teacher, counselor, administrator, parent, student, and any other representative the parent chooses will work together to select appropriate modifications and/or accommodations the student may need. These accommodations and modifications must be carried out and if they are not, legal action can be taken against the teacher, administrator, and school system.

Other students who do not receive special education services may have academic or bodily limitations but are not eligible for an IEP. In these cases, students may be placed on a 504 plan. A 504 plan also gives students with learning and attention deficits accommodations and/or modifications in the general education classroom. Like an IEP, legal action can be taken against the teacher, administrator, and school system if the listed accommodations and modifications are not carried out.

How to Modify Assignments and Assessments

Every student that has an IEP or 504 has specific accommodations and modifications outlined in their plan that they must receive. An accommodation is an adjustment in the way a student shows what he or she has learned. Examples of accommodations include additional time for tests and assignments, in-class work breaks, un-timed tests, and the opportunity to take tests in a small group. A modification is an adjustment to what a student learns and/or the expectations of him or her. Examples of modifications include shorter assignments, tests with fewer questions and/or answers, and alternate grading methods.

A teacher may give an assessment that requires students to compare plant and animal cells. Students may have to list five similarities and five differences of each as well as label the parts of each cell. Students with accommodations and/or modifications are still required to learn the information, however they may only have to list three similarities and three differences. They may also be given a word bank that they can use in order to label the cells. The assessment is still challenging, content appropriate, and requires students to use the knowledge they've learned.

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