Modifications for Special Education Students: Definition & Checklist

Instructor: Esther Bouchillon

Esther has taught middle school and has a master's degree in gifted education.

This lesson explains the difference between accommodations and modifications. A list of modifications is also provided. A short quiz follows the lesson.

Accommodations vs. Modifications

Imagine someone who hasn't exercised in years is told to run a marathon in a month. Even being allowed to walk portions of it instead of running probably wouldn't make them capable of accomplishing the task. Trying to do so would probably leave them discouraged and very sore. However, being told that they can participate in a 5k instead would be much more manageable. Both involve exercise, but the goal changed - run a 5k instead of a marathon. The goal was modified to reflect the person's ability.

Sometimes the words 'accommodation' and 'modification' are used interchangeably, but they are in fact different things and have different effects on student learning. An accommodation changes the way a student receives information or is tested on the information without changing the learning goal or standard. Another way of thinking about accommodations is that they change how a student learns but not what they learn. An example of an accommodation is allowing a student with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to take breaks during a test. They are still taking the same test with the same objectives, but how they accomplish the task is different.

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