Modifications and Accommodations

A friend contacted me after dinner last night in a panic. Her son has just started 9th grade and has been failing math, in large part because he doesn’t understand the homework. He is on the spectrum, and is more than capable of handling academic work, given proper supports. But his homework hasn’t been modified, and I doubt the tests and quizzes have been either.

I don’t understand why teachers don’t do this.  Do they not realize that they have to? If a teacher saw a child in a wheelchair at the top of a staircase, unable to go downstairs, would they turn the other way and say, “That’s not my job, that’s the special ed teacher’s job”? Probably not, but because some of our kiddos on the spectrum “seem” capable, that instinct that all teachers are supposed to have to help children succeed just isn’t there? I just don’t understand.

simple modificationI still consider myself a teacher (especially with all of the modifications and accommodations I’ve been providing for my own son for the past two years), and helped my friend’s son via text. They would send me a picture of the problem, and I would set up a chart of the information to help him process it into an equation and send it back.  And guess what? They went from full-on meltdown mode to feeling much better about the math homework.

Now why in the world should this mom have to go on facebook, beg friends for help, and even offer to pay someone to help her boy with his work? No, I’m sorry. This falls in the realm of the duties of that math teacher.  She is failing at least one of her students.  That grade is not his, it is hers.  And if she can’t see that, someone needs to show her.

If you are a teacher, I strongly urge you to learn how to provide some basic modifications and accommodations (and while you’re at it, look into this thing called “Universal Design for Learning“). We’re supposed to help our students succeed, and if you are too tired or busy to only concentrate on the “normal” ones, you have a problem.

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2 thoughts on “Modifications and Accommodations

  1. Ouch! Teachers want to help the best they can. You do not specify if this is a public or private school. For public, the modifications and accommodations are noted on the IEP. If they are not listed, then the teacher will not be aware of the situation. Private schools are not required by law to accommodate or modify with an IEP. The most significant factor here though, is that your friend is only telling one side of the story. You might not have all the information. Just sayin’…

    • I know it’s shocking, but not all teachers want to help, and I say that from our own experience, not just as a parent, but as a teacher who watched other teachers purposely not make accommodations on tests that were listed on a student’s IEP. I provided modifications and accommodations daily to my students, and I know that this is what most teachers do. I would never say that most teachers fail to provide mods and accommodations, because I know it isn’t even close to the truth. However, in this case, this is a public school, and yes the mods are noted on the IEP (and even if they weren’t, that may not protect a teacher from a lawsuit for failing to provide them). Some teachers never reference the IEP, and I saw the homework this kid was asked to do – no mods were made, and he’s been failing all of his tests and quizzes – wouldn’t that be a heads up to any teacher that something isn’t working? When parents are asked to make the modifications that are supposed to be made at school (as I have done often now for 2 years, and as my friend is being asked to do, as well), it gets frustrating. You are correct that I do not know the whole story, but I know enough to know that this child is not receiving the supports that are his right by law.

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