Almost every school district in the country uses assessments to measure student success as well as to gauge how well a teacher is performing. Therefore, it is imperative for teachers to learn how to properly assess their students. And, teachers of students with special needs have a unique challenge to develop accommodations that allow these students to be assessed in a manner that is both fair and valid.
Luke and Schwartz (2010) list 4 different types of accommodations. The first is accommodations in the presentation of the test which affect how the directions and content are delivered to the student(s). These are typically used by students with hearing and/or visual impairments. The second type is response accommodations and these are used by students with physical disabilities and/or difficulty with organization. Thirdly, the environment in which the assessment is delivered may need to be changed, especially for students with attention disorders. Finally, the fourth type of accommodation affects the timing and scheduling of the test. Some students may need extended time to read and process the test and formulate their responses. Other students may need breaks built into the timing of the assessment.
Choosing which type of accommodation is best suited for an individual student will be part of that student’s IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or 504 plan and should be introduced to the student before the assessment is given. This will give the student plenty of time to become familiar with the accommodation.
Once the accommodation has been selected and put to use, it should be evaluated to determine its effectiveness. Assessment results can be influenced by the accommodation and can cause the results to be invalid. If the examiner does not administer the accommodation correctly and/or the student doesn’t use the accommodation properly, they may have an unfair advantage or disadvantage on the test.
Overall, assessment accommodations are necessary for students with special needs. These accommodations must be matched to the individual strengths and weaknesses of a student. Most of all, their use and effectiveness needs to be monitored.
As a special education teacher, I will be challenged with the task of figuring out which accommodation is the best one for each student and then examining the results to make sure the accommodation was effective. The research I reviewed when preparing this Hot Topic presentation was invaluable because it exposed me to the many different types of accommodations. But, more importantly, it made me realize that there are no "one size fits all" adaptations that can be used on my students. I will have to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each of my students in order to determine which type of accommodation would be best suited for that student. Thirdly, I will have to evaluate the results to ensure it helped the student perform to the best of his/her ability.
Luke, Stephen, D., Ed.D., & Schwartz, Amanda, Ph.D., (2010, October). Assessment and Accommodations. Retrieved from http://www.parentcenterhub.org