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Masters of Special Education with Academic Instruction Certification

Accommodations - Topic 34

What is it?

Accommodations refer to the procedural elements of instruction and assessment that do not make meaningful changes to content including, changing methods of administration or response, or arranging alternate settings, scheduling or timing. Reducing distractions and extending time are frequently utilized accommodations (Pitoniak & Royer, 2001). However, research has shown that teacher recommended accommodations do not always result in improved outcomes for students with disabilities (Fuchs & Fuchs, 2001; Fuchs, Fuchs, Eaton, Hamlett, & Karns, 2000; Fuchs, Fuchs, Eaton, Hamlett, Binkley, et al., 2000). Teachers have flexibility choosing accommodations for curriculum based measurements (CBM), but less freedom with more formal, standardized tests. It has been suggested that widespread use of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) would limit the need for accommodations.

Why is it important?

Accommodations are designed to remove obstacles preventing students with disabilities the ability to demonstrate their skills and knowledge accurately (Sireci, 2006). It is important that IEPs contain accommodations that address the student’s disability, have a history of effectiveness, remain consistent with test content and do not invalidate tests or contradict testing procedures (S. N. Elliott et al., 2002). Because most students are required to participate in standardized state assessments without modifications, judicious use of accommodations can aid students with learning disabilities to successfully complete high-stakes exams.


Fuchs, L. S., and Fuchs, D. (2001). Helping teachers formulate sound test accommodation decisions

for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 16, 174-181.

Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D. Eaton, S. B., Hamlett, C. L., and Karns, K. M. (2000). Supplementing teacher

judgments of mathematics test accommodations with objective data sources. School

Psychology Review, 29(1), 66-85.

Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D. Eaton, S. B., Hamlett, C. L., Binkley, E., and Crouch, R. (2000). Using

objective data sources to enhance teacher judgments about test accommodations.

Exceptional Children, 67, 67-81.

Pitoniak, M. J., and Royer, J. M. (2001). Testing accommodations for examinees with disabilities: A

review of psychometric, legal, and social policy issues. Review of Educational Research,

71(1), 53-104.

Web Links


National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities

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