Students who have certain learning needs may be eligible for support through the special education system. Depending on the type of disability a California student has, they could receive accommodations in the classroom that include additional time to take tests, special instruction and more. It is critical for teachers to understand how to support their students and follow the terms of their Individualized Education Programs (IEP). This includes knowing whether a student needs modifications or accommodations.
The terms of an IEP
If a teacher has a student with an IEP in their classroom, the teacher must review those plans at least once per year. This allows them to understand what a student needs to be successful in school and implement the required IEP goals, supports and services. Modifications and accommodations may be required and should be reflected in the IEP.
- A modification is a change in the lesson that will allow the student to better comprehend it, including using different language or offering alternative assignments. Notably, a modification may change the content of the grade-specific curriculum
- An accommodation changes how a student will learn the material, such as teaching in a small group setting or allowing additional time to complete a task. These changes are typically physical or environmental changes.
Knowing the difference between these two things is particularly important for general education teachers who have special education students in their classrooms.
The interests of special education students
Special education students have the right to a full and fair educational experience. California parents may find it necessary to advocate for the needs of their child in the classroom. It may be helpful to employ the experience and support of an experienced special education law attorney.