How the Difference between Modifications & Accommodations Can Change Your Child’s Future

Event Recap
Feb. 4, 2022Updated Aug. 12, 2022

When they’re used well, both accommodations and modifications are meant to remove barriers and meet students where they are so that every child can access the curriculum. But how can we best advocate for the classroom supports our kids need to be successful? And when does an accommodation cross over into becoming a modification? In our Facebook Live chat on January 27, 2022, Dr. Sarah Pelangka walked us through the differences between accommodations and modifications and how you can advocate for what your child needs to thrive in their classroom.

Here are the top takeaways from our conversation with Dr. Pelangka!

What’s the most important thing to know about modifications in your child’s classroom?

Dr. Pelangka says that the number-one thing to watch out for is whether your child’s teacher is providing the modifications spelled out in their IEP — no more and no less. Hear her explain why in this clip:

What exactly is the difference between accommodations and modifications?

During our live event, there were many questions about different classroom accommodations. Shari A. asked, “A calculator is an accommodation, isn’t it?” Kelly H. said, “Yes! It’s a crucial one for my daughter.”

Dr. Pelangka answered, “It depends on its usage. It can be considered an accommodation if the student conceptually understands the math they are doing, but it is a modification if it is being used to support the concepts of the math computation.”

It all comes down to the way a child accesses the curriculum and how what they’re learning compares to their peers, as Dr. Pelangka explains in this clip:

Our article Accommodations for IEPs and 504s provides examples of accommodations that can help students access the curriculum in meaningful ways.

Who’s responsible for making sure a student has access to an accommodation?

Does the teacher need to provide the accommodation, or is it the student’s job to request it? In this clip, Dr. Pelangka explains why it’s so important to clarify this in your IEP, as well as one phrase you should never use in an IEP:

Will modifications affect a student’s ability to get a diploma?

Dr. Pelangka explains that the earlier you start paying attention to your child’s modifications in the classroom, the better, because it could have long-term effects on whether they can “catch up” to their grade-level peers. Check out her explanation in this clip:

One of the parents attending our live event commented in the chat, “My son is just in preschool, but I have my vision set on Gen. Ed. all the way and a high school diploma.” No matter your child’s age, it’s so helpful to discuss your goals for them and work to advocate for what they need to be supported throughout their education.

Dr. Pelangka gave plenty of other great advice during our live event. If you missed it or want to review what we learned, you can watch the full recording here below, and check out our article Accommodations and Modifications in the Classroom for even more information!

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Contents


Overview

What’s the most important thing to know about modifications in your child’s classroom?

What exactly is the difference between accommodations and modifications?

Who’s responsible for making sure a student has access to an accommodation?

Will modifications affect a student’s ability to get a diploma?

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