Students who have unique learning needs have the right to certain types of support and help in their California classrooms. They may require additional help in order to have a full educational experience, and for those who qualify, schools must provide these services. The specific needs of the student will dictate what types of support he or she may need in a general education classroom in order to succeed.
Students who have special needs will undergo an evaluation of his or her disabilities and how they could impact learning. This evaluation, as well as other factors, is critical to the development of an Individualized Education Program. The IEP will outline the requirements the student has, which may include accommodations or modifications. The school and teachers must adhere to the terms of an IEP.
Differences between accommodations or modifications
Accommodation describes how the teacher will alter certain aspects of teaching for the benefit of the child. This may include altering instruction, the environment or tools used to teach the lesson and more in order to allow an individual with a disability to learn. Accommodations do not mean the teacher must change what he or she is actually teaching, but instead it refers to other changes regarding the way in which to teach certain things. This can include sign language for deaf students, speech-to-text computers and large-print books.
Modification is a term used to describe an actual change in the curriculum taught by the teacher. These are necessary in cases in which the student lacks the capacity to understand the lesson, and the teacher should provide an altered version. This may mean reducing the number of lessons, simplifying content or lowering the number of assignments a student needs to complete. The degree of modification may depend on the child’s specific learning needs.
Fighting for what your child needs
If your child has special needs, he or she has the right to a free public education in California. As a parent, you have the right to fight for your child’s educational needs, including ensuring the school and educators adhere to the terms of his or her individual IEP.
Whether your child needs accommodations or modifications in order to succeed in the classroom, the school is responsible for providing necessary support. If you have concerns regarding your child’s educational rights or the steps the school is taking for your child, you do not have to remain silent about your concerns.