Table of Contents
- Special Education Meaning
- Accommodations in Special Education
- Modifications in Special Education
- Difference Between Accommodations and Modifications
- Lesson Summary
The definition of special education (also commonly referred to as the amalgamation sped or special needs education) is the education of children and young adults who have special requirements in order for them to learn content and curriculum in a public school setting. These special requirements are determined by diagnosticians, teachers, and other specialists in the field of special education. It has been proven for many years that adjusting the learning environment for special needs students will allow them to learn better than they otherwise would in an environment without those needs being met. Special education helps students who have cognitive, emotional, behavioral, or intellectual conditions. It can also serve those who have disabilities, such as hearing, vision, speech, or other physical conditions. Special education is also assigned to gifted children with advanced abilities and other types of learners who are not considered neurotypical.
Special education programs serve a wide variety of learners who would otherwise have difficulty learning, as other children do, in a traditional classroom setting. Some special ed services are provided within the traditional school classroom and other services are provided in a smaller setting with a special education teacher. When a child is tested and found to be eligible for special education services, their unique needs are met at no cost to the parents of the child. Special education benefits children by making the general school curriculum accessible so that they can meet the educational standards set by the country, state, or district. By addressing the unique needs of the eligible child, the content and skills of the curriculum can be delivered in a way that is regulated by law and accessible to the student.
Another benefit of special education is eligible students are protected by laws that dictate that their needs must be met in the school setting by all teachers and co-teachers who are directly involved within their learning environment. The laws that protect students with special needs come from the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
After a student is tested and found to be eligible for special education, they will have either a Section 504 Plan or a plan within an Individualized Education Program (IEP). These plans are created by a committee that includes teachers, diagnosticians, administrators, counselors, and of course the parent(s) of the child. These plans address the child's special requirements, academic strengths and weaknesses, and goals for the student. The 504 Plan or the IEP Plan also includes accommodations and/or modifications that will be employed and followed by everyone in the educational setting of the child.
Accommodations in education are methods and strategies that affect how a student receives information and learns curriculum. Accommodations do not change the concepts or material being taught to the student, but rather change the process of learning, the speed of instruction, types of materials, or the physical environment in the classroom. The purpose of accommodations is to allow the student to have access to the same curriculum and have the same course of study as all students, with the goal of completing the assignments and tasks that every other child in the class is expected to complete. An example of an accommodation would be for a student who is hard of hearing to use specialized audio equipment for listening to a lesson. Here are some other common examples of accommodations:
It's important to note that accommodations have the purpose of allowing the learner to complete the same tasks and cover the same content as their peers. A student who receives accommodations in the classroom is required to master the same concepts as their peers. The curriculum is not watered down and the assignments are not simplified or shortened to make it easier for the student. The content is simply made more accessible by varying the time allotted, method of delivery instruction, or physical setting for the student. Students with dyslexia might get to listen to an audiobook, but it is the same text as the rest of the class. A student with ADHD will have to sit by the teacher or have frequent reminders to focus, but they must still complete the same assignments as the rest of the class.
Modifications for students in education are alterations made to the curriculum that change what the child is expected to learn. Special education modifications change the expectations for the student's learning and requirements for their work, usually by making the assignment easier, shorter, or different altogether. Changing what is being taught or expected of the student is a controversial topic because it can affect the child's chances of ever being academically successful. The purpose of modifications is to help the student who is really struggling academically so that they will not fall further behind in assignments and learning by reducing their workload and content standards. For example, a student with a modification can have their work graded based on what they did complete, even if they only did a small fraction of the assignment that was expected of other students. A teacher or committee can measure the learning progress of a student by only focusing on the completion of certain objectives, rather than all the objectives that everyone else is expected to complete. The following are other examples of modifications:
Modifications are also meant to help the student's educational experience, but many believe that it can be harmful in the long run because the child does not become proficient in everything that their peers might be expected to do. Because modifications alter the assignments and content, they essentially lower the expectations for the student, making it very difficult for them to ever keep up with the general education population. However, in cases where a child has a significant learning condition, modifications are necessary throughout their years in the education system.
If a child requires modifications as part of their Individualized Education Plan, it is the duty of the teacher, by law, to provide these modifications in their lesson plans. Here are a few ideas for teachers on how to modify a lesson plan for special needs.
The following table provides the differences between accommodations and modifications.
|Technical Difference||Accommodations are linked to the student's 504 Plan.||Modifications are linked to the student's IEP Plan.|
|Change for students||Changes how the student learns, but still expects students to complete the same work. Student covers same material but in a different way.||Changes what the student is expected to do or learn in the classroom. Student does less or easier assignments. More supports are provided to students who are far behind their peers.|
|Examples||Student listens to an audio version of a book. Seated closer to teacher in the classroom, but still expected to complete same assignments as peers. Using spell-check to help students with writing difficulties. Extra time on a test or taking an exam on a computer.||Shorter reading assignments or different texts from peers. Special education teacher may pull out student to read the text to the student. Provide word bank to student or change the writing assignment completely. Fewer answer choices or shorter exam with lower reading level.|
Special education is the education of students with special needs. Special education students are protected by law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), meaning that teachers and school personnel must take the students unique learning requirements into consideration when planning instruction and classroom experiences. In order for a student to qualify for special education services, they must be tested by a diagnostician and have a meeting to discuss the plan for the student. Schools are required by law to provide special education services to students at no cost to the parent, and teachers must abide by the accommodations and modifications that are set forth by the Section 504 Plan and the Individualized Education Program Plan (IEP). The 504 plan pertains to accommodations and the IEP plan denotes the modifications.
Accommodations are methods and techniques in the classroom that change how the student learns the content being delivered. The student is still expected to learn the same material and achieve the same objectives as their peers, but just in a different way. For example, a student with dyslexia might listen to an audiobook while they read, or a student with ADHD might need frequent reminders to say on task. A child with accommodations will still be expected to complete the same work as everyone else and is held to the same content expectations as their peers. Modifications are methods that completely change what the student is learning or expected to complete. The assignments may be shortened or changed completely to include fewer questions, easier text, or fewer answer choices on an exam question. An example of a modification can be a teacher measuring the progress of a student by only selecting certain objectives for a student to meet, instead of all learning objectives that their peers are expected to learn. Many education experts agree that accommodations help create a more equitable opportunity for students, but modifications may hinder a student in the long run by causing them to always be lacking in their skills. Both accommodations and modifications, however, are meant to serve students with special educational needs.
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Examples of modifications in education include any changes in the curriculum they are learning. For example, a child may be given an easier book to read than their peers, they might have fewer questions to complete on an assignment, or there may be fewer answer choices on a multiple-choice exam.
Special education modifications are methods that change what the student is expected to learn in school. The content can be modified by making it shorter, easier, or adapted to the level of the student.
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