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Instructional Accommodations Manual (Digital)

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Have you ever gone to a restaurant where the menu was written in a language you didn’t speak? You probably needed help reading it. Maybe the menu had pictures next to the words that helped you, or maybe the menu had English words under the other language. Maybe the waiter read the menu to you, or maybe you got help from another diner. The owners of the restaurant want you to spend money there, so they make accommodations to help all diners access the menu. They know not everyone coming to their restaurant is the same, but all need to access the same menu – so accommodations are made. How would you feel if the restaurant owner refused to help you order – or if he ignored your requests for help? Would you go back to that restaurant, or avoid going back there because it didn’t meet your needs?

As teachers, we know that all students are not the same, but like the menu in a restaurant, all of our students need to access the same curriculum. No matter what grade level or subject you are teaching, the students in your class will differ from each other in a variety of ways such as readiness level, learning style, and skill. How then can a teacher create lessons to reach all students? Instructional accommodations are the first type of adjustment teachers make to bring learning within the reach of all students. Think about your students. Which ones need an accommodation to your “menu”? Are there any who avoid school because it isn’t a place that’s meeting their needs?

The goal of accommodations is to:
  • Increase student success by making lessons more accessible to all learners
  • Individualize instruction by focusing on student’s strengths, learning styles, unique needs to develop skills and independence
  • Maintain high standards without “watering down” the curriculum
  • Increase student engagement by maximizing academic learning time

How can this manual help you?

If a student is experiencing difficulty in your class:

  1. Look at the “If a Student Has Difficulty...Try This!” to see what accommodations or adjustments you could make based on the specific difficulties the student is demonstrating.
  2. Try one or more of the accommodation strategies suggested on the one- page strategy sheets.
  3. Think about how you are assessing their knowledge. Are you measuring how well they take a certain type of test or are you actually measuring how much they have learned?
  4. If a student does need accommodations during assessment, are they allowable on the STAAR? If not, how can you ensure the student gets experience with the format of the STAAR test the way it will be administered? The Texas Education Agency publishes an on-line manual each year specifying the allowable accommodations during state testing. This manual provides information involving how to find the TEA website and how to select accommodations for state assessment.
  5. How can you tell if an accommodation is working? The Accommodations Rubric has a tool for reviewing the effectiveness and potential adjustments that will benefit your students.

The purpose of this manual is to:

  • Explain the difference between instructional accommodations and curricular modifications.
  • Give practical, easy to implement suggestions for accommodations based upon the unique needs of students.
  • Add to your repertoire of accommodation strategies. Answer questions about the use of instructional accommodations during high stakes testing.
  • Give you a tool for evaluating the effectiveness of the accommodations you are using to support students.

There are too many accommodations to include in any one manual, but a list of resources can be found at the end of the manual for additional ideas.

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