Do you think we accommodate/modify too much for our students?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Caesar753, Jun 20, 2012.

  1. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Jun 20, 2012

    Sometimes I wonder if we provide too many modifications and accommodations for our students with special needs, at least at the high school level. Over the years I've had so many students whose IEPs stipulate some pretty serious accommodations and modifications, and I wonder if all those things are really helping.

    For example, I had a student a while back who was to be graded only on work that he attempted. This applied to regular homework and tests, final exams, projects, etc. When this kid leaves high school, what is going to happen to him? How about when he goes to take his driving test? The DMV isn't going to modify the exam. He will have to take the test as written and answer enough questions correctly to pass. When he takes his behind-the-wheel test, he's going to have to do all the things that are required. If he chooses not to parallel park or put his seatbelt on, he's not going to be able to say, "Well, since I didn't attempt that, you can't mark off points for it."

    This isn't the only thing I've seen in an IEP that made me shake my head. I just wonder if we're really doing as much good for our students as we think we are. What are your thoughts?

    (PS I'm not referring to accommodations and modifications for students with physical issues.)
     
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  3. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Most modifications I've seen are more specific and demand more than "finish what you feel like doing." I've seen IEPs that require a student be able to write one paragraph when the original assignment requires five. I have no problem following an IEP that provides support and guidance as well as structure. What you are describing is something unusual I cannot imagine being written.
     
  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    That's what I was kind of afraid of. My only secondary teaching experience is at the school I work at now, so the way we handle IEPs is the only way I've ever known. Maybe we're just doing it wrong.

    I've seen many IEPs that require someone else besides the classroom teacher to have input on the final grade before it is issued. Sometimes that "someone else" is the teacher of record, sometimes it's the parent. I just have such a hard time with some of those sorts of things. I mean, when in the real world will an employee be able to bring in his mom for a performance evaluation?

    There have also been things on IEPs stating that a student will not earn less than 80% (or some other percentage) as the overall grade. I really don't know how I can enforce or ensure that. I can provide all the support and resources and extra help and whatnot in the world, but isn't it ultimately up to the student to demonstrate mastery at a level of 80% of better? If the student doesn't do that, what happens? It's like I violate the terms of the IEP by giving a C or I violate my own ethical/moral standards (and probably some legal standards, quite frankly) by saying that the student earned a B when he really didn't.

    I always want to do what is best for my students, but I just don't understand how I can be seriously expected to do some of the things that are asked of me.
     
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  5. jwteacher

    jwteacher Cohort

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    I don't think there can be too many modifications or accommodations, as some students may truly need them. The problem is poorly written goals.

    I agree that accommodating a student by only grading work he/she completes can in no way be helpful to the student, as it has no desirable end result. If the student has trouble focusing on task completion, for example, a modification should be made in the short term so that he/she is responsible for completing part, but not all of an assignment. That way the student is still meeting curricular objectives and the teacher has data to assess progress. A long-term IEP goal would be to help the student cope with academic rigor so he/she can function in the real world.

    It seems like the IEP team dropped the ball on this kid and are just trying to push him/her through school.
     
  6. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    You have some pretty unique ones that seem over the top. I'm sure that by high school, it has more to do with the parents than the student. Parents know a little more each year, parents see things that happen each year that they do or do not want to happen again, etc.

    I find that many of my students on an IEP are given way too many accommodations or modifications and they are not specific to the student. It's like the special education teacher basically cut and pasted the section for all their students.
     
  7. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    I would agree that too many accommodations and modifications are given, specifically for the reason you suggested; as soon as they leave school and head out into the the real world they will not be getting that extra help. Yes, our goal is to help students learn, but many of those same students are going to need to be able to do the same work as their peers if they want to get the job or pass an exam for a field later on.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I think you're probably right Caesar - a lot of times our instinctual response when kids are in need is to give them things, even if they don't need them. I've seen this outside the realm of IEPs as well, for example when parents exceedingly lower expectations across the board for kids with chronic illnesses. We, as adults, feel bad that kids have to go through tough things, so we try to make them go through less, even if that doesn't help.

    The inherent problem with this discussion, though, is that it could be taken to mean that kids with true needs for certain accommodations should just "toughen up," or that kids with disabilities such as ADHD should just "suck it up," which of course isn't the appropriate response.
     
  9. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    I definitely think we can give too many mods sometimes.
    One student I had last year is in EC (NC's SpEd) Resource (pull-out) for OHI due to her ADHD. She is medicated, so I never see the ADHD. However, at 5th grade, she can no longer function even close to her grade level. Getting all these mods for being ADHD has severely hurt her, because she is never required to do much of anything. It is sad.

    HOWEVER- I do not believe this to be the case for ALL SpEd students!
     
  10. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    I work with students who have very mild disabilities. My students will grow up and be fully capable of living independently, holding a good paying job and being a responsible member of society. They won't need a job coach, they will be able to drive. Therefore, I do the least amount of accommodations/modifications possible for their needs. And usually, I don't give them the accommodations/modifications right away either. For example, if a large test is coming up and the student's IEP says they get "read aloud" and "modified test format", I'll let them take the test everyone else takes without any read aloud first and see how well they do. Kids that study for the test can usually pass without any extras from me. If they fail that first time, I'll pull them out and give them the modified test and read it out loud. If they know their stuff but just struggle with the reading/processing, they'll pass. If they don't pay attention or do any homework, that is reflected (again) in the results of the second test. I find that a lot of times, my middle schoolers KNOW that they'll get some extras and use that as an excuse not to study. I'm trying to get away from that, and giving them that "second chance" really shows who is struggling because of a disability and who is struggling because they aren't doing what they need to in class.
     
  11. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    That's the problem. The special education teacher who work the IEP with the accommodation for read aloud should have done just what Bumble did. An accommodation shouldn't just be added, it should be tested to make sure it is needed and the reevaluated every year. If a student improves in reading, they don't need read aloud anymore. Every student on an IEP doesn't need a separate location for testing.
     
  12. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    This is what I do. I have only 1 exception, a child that is dyslexic. This student cannot read at all. I think a goal that a student only be graded on what they attempt is foolish.
     
  13. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    At our school we were told to only grade all kids on what they attempt. If we don't get it from them we shouldn't be grading them on it because it is our responsibility to make sure they do it. What a joke.
     
  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    I would add that I don't think it's a teacher's responsibility to determine which accommodations to give or not give if they've been identified by a group of people previously. As I mentioned in my previous post, I do think some accommodations are given that don't need to be, but there are still legitimate occasions when accommodations make a lot of sense, and if a team of folks has identified such qualifications, it shouldn't be up to the teacher to determine if s/he wants to actually use those, as the teacher may not have the expertise required to determine what's needed or not. Doesn't mean there might not be a lot of times when the teacher is wiser than the team, and when it would make a lot of sense for the teacher to NOT give such accommodations, but I don't think it's ethical for a teacher to make that call.
     
  15. onestepcloser

    onestepcloser Companion

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    YES, YES, YES. My admin's idea of accommodating is to have no deadlines, accept work anytime and not take marks off if it will cause the student to fail (the semester started in February and I was getting things from February and March in June), and let tests be written anytime or exclude it from their grade - IEP or not. It's gotten to a point where the students who DON'T have IEPs but just do nothing actually have an advantage over those who have IEPs, are getting the accommodations and modifications listed in them, and actually put forth an effort, because admin rewards a lack of accountability and an attitude of entitlement here. It's a major issue and I have no clue what some of them will do after high school.
     
  16. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    The kiddos I have had (remember, 1st grade) who were SpEd really didn't need many of the accommodations in writing, since I was doing them for the rest of my students anyway (and they weren't low, either). Especially at the beginning of the year, I read all tests aloud and administer most in small group settings. Only toward the end of the year do I have (my higher) students read the tests themselves, and I am right there for clarification. I have a problem with the "shortened assignments" modification, because most 1st grade assignments are already so short! Some only have 3-4 questions, and if I take a grade on them, the grading scale is horrendous! I already repeat directions, reread questions, and present material in ways that appeal to multiple learning styles.
     
  17. iteachbx

    iteachbx Enthusiast

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    That sounds like a poorly written IEP in my opinion. I think the modifications and accommodations are more clear cut where I work. Usually I chose them from a drop down menu based on my students. It's not like I'm creating them on my own.

    However I have found that if a student has a modification or accommodation or service and as the special education teacher I feel they don't need it anymore or they don't need it as much, it can be very hard convincing the "powers that be" that it needs to be removed from the IEP. I have students receiving services and accommodations that I feel they don't need anymore. ALL of my special education students get time and a half on testing. It seems like a standard on every IEP I come across. However, I have some IEP students who have never come close to needing that time.
     
  18. Emily Bronte

    Emily Bronte Groupie

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    all of our accommodations and mods. need to be based on information from the most recent 3-year evaluation. It is also likely that one would see accomms/mods for two students similar as they may be receiving services under the same disability umbrella, like learning disabilities.
     
  19. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Haha! I've SEEN this, as you can imagine. We get some pretty irate parents who don't understand why we won't "modify" the practice tests or the in car instruction for their kids. Because I don't want to DIE, ma'am, when your child gets out on the road!

    FYI, my school does offer a "driver's ed at your speed" course for students who need additional help. We put them in a slower course (3 months instead of 3 weeks), we limit the class size to 10, put them behind a simulator for 5 hours, and then, if both the instructor and parent feel the child is ready, put them in a car. It's pricey, though... about $2,000.
     
  20. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    I think the examples in the OP are just a case of a bad IEP. I don't think the modifications mentioned would be appropriate for any student, and to have a student be able to "get away with doing nothing" is certainly not a goal of a modification. My former school didn't allow modifications at all, which drove me nuts. They said that students who got modified curriculum, even something as simple as a differentiated spelling list in the 3rd grade, were not eligible for a real diploma after HS since they didn't complete a "real" curriculum. I personally find that really hard to believe- especially since everyone I know who has gone to school in this state says they learned to provide modifications as part of their teacher education program. My sped department was awful and our director was clueless- so I'm betting she was misguided or twisted something she heard around. I am teaching gen ed next year, but just out of curiosity I am very curious to see if my new district modifies and gives out "real" diplomas. So of course, my answer on that one is "no" since we weren't doing modifications at all! In my student teaching placement they always said that "best practice" was modifying to the point where if a student tried their best, they would be capable of getting a C. If a student simply wasn't doing the assignment or wasn't putting any effort into it, that didn't warrant modified work. If a student was getting an A or B on a modified assignment, they modified less. I think that was a great practice- it keeps you from over-modifying or just letting all of the kids with IEPs get an A on everything, but it gives them what they need as well. If they are not capable of getting a C with their very best effort, they don't understand the material well enough and need something modified. Having them muddle through something years above their level and just failing everything they ever do isn't a good solution either. I always worry about what will happen to my students in my former school (who were not allowed to have modifications) when they get to middle school or high school and realize they've failed every academic thing their entire lives. What would possibly motivate them to finish school or keep trying? My district even pushed us to make IEP goals at grade level (basically writing the goal as the student will meet grade level expectations by doing xyz in whatever subject), which I tried to get around when I could, but sometimes wasn't able to and those poor students couldn't even pass their IEP goals. This had started to become an issue in the middle school because many of the IEP students were also ineligible for sports based on GPA, which for some may have been the only thing they felt successful at in a school setting or the only reason they kept attending school.

    With accommodations, I often found myself having to fight against the "just give everything to them" attitude in IEP meetings. For example, they pretty much wanted to give every student test read aloud, extended time, and separate environment for testing with the attitude of "why not? In case they need it..." Many of my students did not need these accommodations. Those that are reading fluently don't really need tests read aloud, and I have had very few students who will actually use extended time. I have one student who will do the work if you just give him enough time- VERY slow processor- he is a perfect example of who the extended time accommodation should be used for. Many other students though will finish before the time is up consistently anyway, and then they're sitting in some extended time room instead of being with their gen ed class.

    I think the bottom line is that you need to find a balance between doing what the student needs and challenging them as well. Like EdEd was getting at, you don't suddenly "suck it up" or "work hard enough" and then magically get rid of your learning disability.
     
  21. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Wow, I never took drivers ed. Was put behind the wheel once before I got my permit and then just went from there. Driving is just a natural to me.
     
  22. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Not to thread jack (but I guess I am), but driver's ed is required for anyone under the age of 18 in Texas. They have to do 32 hours in class and 27 hours in car. From 18-24, you have to take a 6 hour course, no in-car instruction. After 25, you just have to pass the written and driving test on your own.

    I have a kid right now who *clearly* has a processing problem. He can drive, but only if there is no other traffic and if he doesn't have to make a quick decision. For example, if I say, "At the next stop sign, turn right," he can do that. BUT if another car is at that stop sign, he gets confused about what to do even though we've been doing it for 3 hours now, I've drawn him pictures, walked him through it, etc. He can handle about 2 decisions, but sadly, in city traffic, he's going to often have to make many more than that on any of our multi-lane roads. I don't know how long it's going to take him to learn. Fortunately, his mom understands this and is willing to pay for lots of extra lessons.
     
  23. callmebob

    callmebob Enthusiast

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    Some people obviously need that instruction. There are so many people on the road who are not very skilled at driving. To me, a driver needs to know what is going on ALL around them at all times. If you are talking to someone in the car and they ask you the make and model of the car that just drove down the other side of the road as well as the age of the driver, you need to know. *okay, slight exaggeration, but only slight*
     
  24. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    This sounds very familiar. I know the goal is to help kids, but it's chaos and backfires.
     

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