Modifications for low SES students?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by waterfall, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Full disclosure, this is a grad school assignment. It's due by midnight tonight and I have been procrastinating all week because I have no idea how to answer these questions. Each week we've been covering one "special population" and then for one of our assignments we have to write about how we modify for that group. I already explained to the professor that my district doesn't do modifications for anyone unless they have significant special education needs, and I was told to write about what I could do if modifications were allowed. Weeks 1 and 2 were special education students and ELL students, which was fine- I wrote about things that I would do if we could modify for these students. This week is "economically disadvantaged learners." I have to write about how I would modify curriculum, instruction, and assessments. I realize that many places modify much more than we do (grad program is located in another state- I'm attending online), but do people really modify curriculum and assessments for low SES children? I have always heard modifications defined as changes to the curriculum or what the child is expected to learn. Changing expectations based on the fact that someone is poor seems highly unethical to me if not illegal. There must be something I'm missing here, because I can't think of anything that I would consider to be appropriate for the curriculum or assessment question (I already completed the instruction question). Someone asked a few weeks back in one of our discussions if we could write about accommodations instead, and the professor said no. As luck would have it, this is also the assignment chosen for this class that we have to upload to our portfolio for graduation, so I need it to be a good grade. I know some members hate when people ask for help with homework, but if anyone is willing to provide any suggestions I would greatly appreciate it!
     
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  3. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Interesting. I agree with you....we shouldn't be lowering expectations because students are poor!

    The first thing that came to mind is that students living in poverty often lack background knowledge. They need a lot of front loading to build up the vocabulary knowledge and background knowledge they're lacking. For example, in a higher SES school, students have probably traveled outside of the immediate area and have background knowledge about different areas/habitats (for science)/parts of the state or country...a low SES student might not have that.

    But...I would not modify assessments for low SES kids. That seems...wrong. It's wrong to assume that those kids can't perform at the same levels as other students. There are plenty of gifted low SES kids, just like there are plenty of high SES kids with learning disabilities.
     
  4. LouiseB

    LouiseB Cohort

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    I hadn't heard the term SES until I came to this site. I gather it means low economic life so I'll answer in that way. My understanding is the same as you about accommodations/modifications so we do not do modifications for those students unless they do qualify for sped. Kids at our school that fit the SES but not sped do get some kind of accommodations. Mostly it has to do with anything that would need to be done at home, maybe homework. These kids do not get the support at home in academic areas so maybe a few accommodations might be more time, pulled out for a quiet place, tests read to them. Any test that is state related would not get much for accommodations/modifications as even sped doesn't get much. We have all tests online except for t hose who have IEPs who can do it paper/pencil and can have the test broken up for several days. As you know, a student must be in sped to have an IEP. A student could be in a different location where it is quiet for the regular test or possibly have someone read directions, etc. For the schools assesment it would depend on what the administration would allow. For instance, there is a student who is in the SAT process. He is also SES I believe. He gets more time on some assignments. He can go with the para for tests/quizzes and can ask questions on those if needed.

    Not sure if I really answered your question. I think that maybe another thing would be free lunch and breakfast??? Food is important to learning!

    Good luck with your class!
     
  5. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    When dealing with low SES kiddos, you're dealing with kiddos that typically won't have much help at home, that lose more over the summer break, that don't have the types of enrichment other kids have, and that aren't going to have the same opportunities that other kiddos have.

    Should you say, "Oh, kid A is poor so I'll give him easier work?" No, of course not. But you should certainly be keeping in mind his situation and finding ways to ensure that the bulk of his work can be done at school, and you should be finding ways to supplement what he won't get at home. If you end up at a low SES school, then you should go in knowing that you will probably have a class that is pretty low across the board, that behavior will be an issue, and that parents are either unwilling or unable to give you the same support that they would in the suburbs.
     
  6. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Yep, the background knowledge thing is actually what I wrote about for modifying instruction. I also said that I would explicitly teach low level vocabulary words since my students tend to come in with low language skills and might not know all of the words that we would expect them to.

    Totally agree on the assessments. If we're trying to "close the gap" how could modifying assessments possibly be a good idea?
     
  7. 2ndTimeAround

    2ndTimeAround Phenom

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    I'm with you - modifications are wrong, wrong, wrong! Interventions, maybe. But they should still be expected to complete the standards as they are written. Sorry I can't help :(
     
  8. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I agree with Yellowdaisies. The low SES students I have are hampered by having little background knowledge. My students live in a town of less then 1000 and only a few of them have traveled futher then to the local WalMart in Vicksburg. I do inclusion, but I often pull out students to use visuals...youtube..dvds..( The ELA teacher and I often split the whole class and I take 1/2 in my room for remediation, including non sped kids) while she teaches the other 1/2 then we switch. for my sped kids I will shorten the lesson if needed. I guess a modification I make is something like writing an essay together. I will use the smart board and have them each type a paragraph. This way they can learn how to write and at the same time not be overwhelmed. The lack of background knowledge is really one of my biggest issues to overcome. The only thing I can think of for your paper is to maybe go with the lack of background knowledge and build up modifications from there.
     
  9. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    Waterfall, do you retest? Both districts I've worked in sped students have retest failed tests. It's never been an issue in either district because every student can retest. It's been up to individual teachers on what the students need to do before retest. In my former district ( a very wealth district) students could retest even if they had a b just to get an A. The thinking was ...teachers can retest praxis...driver's license ...
     
  10. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    The thing with modified assessments is that they shouldn't always be modified. From my perspective, anytime you modify an assessment for any kiddo, it's because the "regular" assessment won't produce valuable information. If a kiddo is going to have an assessment score in the 20's, then it might be better to create a modified assessment... not so that he scores higher on it, but just so that you get SOME useful information about what exactly the student might know (beyond just "nothing.")
     
  11. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    I think this is a good point. For my students that are several years behind it is impossible to get valid data on grade level tests. I already know they can't read and do some modified tests in my pull out sessions to moniter progress. I also use several computer based programs to help moniter. We no longer use AimsWeb which I liked to give me data.
     
  12. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    No, we don't. We basically don't provide anything that isn't allowed on a state test, which is practically nothing. Students can't retake the state test so they can't retake classroom tests either. I already told the professor that the whole premise of mine is going to have to be "If we could provide modifications, I would..." anyway though, so I can list ideas even if we don't do them at my school.
     
  13. donziejo

    donziejo Devotee

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    Wow, that's pretty strict. I don't like that policy. The learning process is much different then the assessment process. What state test do you take? What kind of accommodations modifications do you have on their IEPs? We take PARCC (at least this year as "they" canceled our 5 year contract because our political leaders say they want to throw common core out the window) I understand you have a paper to write so get that done and if you have time after let me know...I agree you will just have to list modifications that don't apply to you.
     
  14. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    We have been taking our own "transitional" state assessment in order to get ready for PARCC. We start PARCC this year. We've received very little information but from what I've heard PARCC allows very few accommodations even if students do have IEPs. It won't be much different for me, but my dad teaches sped in OH and his kids could get a lot of accommodations for the state test in the past. He's being told that most of them aren't allowed anymore, so he's kind of panicking! For our IEPs we can list anything for instruction but kids can't get anything for classroom or district assessments that they can't also get on the state assessment. Our state department of ed is always going on about how everything has to match on the IEP and you can't list something in one section if it's not allowed in another.
     
  15. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    But wouldn't those be accommodations, not modifications? Allowing the kid to complete work at school rather than home is still expecting them to do the same work, you're just allowing them to complete it in a different setting. As far as "ending up in a low SES school"- I've never taught in anything else. I'm very familiar with the environment but we aren't allowed to provide modifications to anyone. Everyone is expected to learn the entire curriculum.
     
  16. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    A lot of profs don't differentiate between accommodations, adaptations, and modifications unless it's specifically a special education course, in my experience.

    As far as modifications and the entire curriculum... anytime you're differentiating, you're really providing modifications. When I have my high kiddos use a level "V" book for a literature circle while I'm using level "M" books in a guided reading group, I'm giving both groups a modification to meet them where they are. When I give groups a different exit ticket in math, those groups are getting modifications. I'm ultimately going to hold both to the same standards, but I'm also recognizing that they are going to take different paths to get there.
     
  17. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    What modifications did you suggest for ELL students? Some of those may be applicable for low SES. In my experience, low SES students benefit from some of the same supports as ELLs.
     
  18. 2ndTimeAround

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    That's not how the word modifications is used here. Modifications means you're changing what standards are required for the course. For instance, instead of having to know the water cycle, carbon cycle and nitrogen cycle, students with modifications would only have to learn about the water cycle (it's the easiest). This is not typically done at the high school level.
     
  19. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    A modified curriculum means that here, but very few kids get a modified curriculum. We still consider something like a shortened assignment to be a modification. Our modified state test tests the exact same standards, but has fewer answer choices and fewer questions.
     
  20. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    For assessment modifications, I think it may be helpful to think beyond standardized district or state assessments, unless that is what your assignment specifically requires. When it comes to teacher-created assessments that assess a particular unit or study or skill set, there are some simple modifications that can be made for low-SES students. It was already mentioned that background knowledge and vocabulary are two significant obstacles for low-SES students. Therefore, when a teacher is creating an assessment, it can be modified so that those two obstacles are reduced or removed. For example, if a teacher creates a reading assessment to assess comprehension skills, the passages in the assessment should be about situations or places that the students would experience in their daily lives rather than something that is typical of higher-SES students. I'm thinking along the lives of writing a passage about spending a week on vacation in Disney World v. going to the grocery store with mom. The same is true with vocabulary. Unless vocabulary is the standard being assessed, the teacher should use vocabulary that students will hear and use in their everyday lives, which may be quite different from their higher-SES peers at another school. With these modifications, the same standards are being assessed (comprehension skills in my example), but the obstacles in the tests are being reduced or removed.

    I think assessments could also be considered modified based on the format of assessment. While a written test is the most typical way to assess student learning, projects, presentations, or written papers are ways to assess the same standards while modifying the assessment itself. Changing the format of the assessment is more than an accommodation, as the conceptual difficulty of the assessment is somewhat changed from format to format.

    When it comes to curriculum, I also have a hard time seeing how it could be significantly modified for low-SES learners on a regular basis. The only suggestion I have is teaching the same skills in the curriculum but though topics that the students have the background to understand. This is probably more realistic in an elementary setting than a secondary setting. For example, if the end goal is to write a how-to essay, allow the students to write about how to make a sandwich (or something else they may experience themselves) rather than requiring them to write about how to do something they've only read about in a book. This was an actual assignment that was part of our curriculum this year, and we modified it in our building because we have a large low-SES population. The district curriculum required the students to write a how-to essay about a specific topic. My grade-level team decided that we were really wanting the students to write a how-to essay well, regardless of topic. So, we chose to modify the assignment, which was part of our curriculum, to something that would reduce the conceptual difficulty for our students while still teaching them the standard.

    I'm not sure if this is helpful at all, but it's the best I can do without knowing exactly what your professor is going for. Here is an article I found that has some explanation of the various types of modifications: http://aim.cast.org/learn/historyarchive/backgroundpapers/curriculum_modification#.VI4Si1p1H2A. It's not specific to SES status, but it provides some good background.
     
  21. miss-m

    miss-m Devotee

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    I would consider "modifications" for low SES kids just modifications to your lessons -- what would you add/change to help them be successful. It's not necessarily making it easier or less rigorous, but as others mentioned it would be something like increasing time spent on building background knowledge, adjusting the ratio of school to home work (or adjusting what they do at home so they can do it independently if they don't have help). My profs in college told us "modifications" could be anything from grouping strategies to more intense changes like others have mentioned here -- changing assessments, providing extra support for certain students, etc.
    But I agree with the other comment that mentioned using ELL strategies -- ELL and low SES often overlap in terms of needs when thinking about background knowledge, vocabulary, home help/support, etc.
     
  22. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    One thing I can think of is homework. I know many teachers who structure their classes so that they do not need to give students too much homework. I know that this is often necessary, but in math, I think it's hard to cover material at the same level if students aren't doing work outside of class.

    Since many of my students don't study for tests, I also think it's important to review concepts in class often!
     
  23. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    This may sound crazy, but I tend to use recipes to teach grammar rules (especially commas) when I realize my students might have a hard time making ends meet, especially when I have young moms in my class. I'll include some easy, usually crock-pot ideas with low-priced but nutritious ingredients. Invariably, one or more students ask me for the full recipe at the end of the lesson.
     
  24. agdamity

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    What about some type of technology? My school is only partially Title One, and it is a pain spending the money because it has to be focused on the low SES students. One idea presented was iPods so students could listen to the class novels because the novels were higher level than the student could do independently. I'm not sure if that would be a modification or accommodation though...
     
  25. Linguist92021

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    I would not modify assessments.
    Curriculum:
    - provide a place for the student to do homework afterschool with tutoring or someone available to help. Low SES students often don't have anyone at home to help with home work (working too many jobs) or they can't help due to lack of schooling or lack of English language skills.
    - provide additional time on projects. These students sometimes have to work after school so they can't do homework / projects.
    - reconsider out of pocket costs for at-home projects. Sometimes 45 worth of supplies mean a lot for a family who's financially struggling
    - frontload essential vocabulary and make sure background knowledge is there
    - ensure all needed skills are there (can this student add before he learns to multiply? He's supposed to know how to add, but does he really?)
    - chunk assignments. Don't show every single step at once, work on 1 problem / 1 step at a time. More on this in the book Framework for understanding poverty by Dr. Ruby Payne
     
  26. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Thank you everyone for the ideas! I have turned in the assignment, but feel free to keep discussing if you wish :)
     
  27. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    At my old school, we often gave project-based assessments in Social Studies. (At times, other subjects, too.) Portions were to be completed at home. For this, I had to modify for low SES students. It was mainly a material access, computer access issue. Sometimes I'd offer choices in the project, I'd allow them to come in early/stay late (but then transportation was an issue), I'd try and get them as much access as possible.
     
  28. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    This would definitely be a problem -- a lot of low-SES parents might not be as capable to help with homework as high-SES parents. This is completely outside curriculum, but it seems setting up peer tutoring groups, or teaching the parents if necessary, could help.
     
  29. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I teach in a high-poverty school.

    Most of my kids don't have Internet access at home. Our textbooks have a large online component. Those kids have to have adapted work. Most don't have access to transportation, so they are limited to the school bus schedule. No early morning or after school tutoring. Many don't have anyone home to help with school work.

    I had one student who brought me his papers that needed to be signed and had me check his homework because nobody at home would do it.
     
  30. orangetea

    orangetea Connoisseur

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    These are SUCH good ideas! Thank you :)
     
  31. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Many of the low SES students also present as SIFE's , or students with interupted formal education. They can be children of migrant workers, belong on families where there is constant moving, due to inability to maintain the rent payments, leading to gaps, as the students move from district to district. Students may go without being in school for longer periods or have higher absenteism that greatly diminishes their base of knowledge. Although SIFE's are usually consindered ELLs, that isn't always the case. If a student moves around enough, the need for an IEP may never be addressed, since the students are gone before the assessment and evaluation can be completed.

    Another teacher once told me that she always had cereal and juice in her room. It is hard to learn on an empty stomach. If you can incorporate the food into the learning, it doesn't stigmatize those students who really need to eat to be able to think. Some of the same constructs as ELLs work - fewer choices in multiple choice, word banks, the ability to give oral answers if the thought processes exceed the ability to write. Giving more chances for rewrites, giving access to technology that may not exist at home, and finding ways to encourage parental involvement, or community involvement are all ways to make modifications without dumbing down what we need them to learn.
     

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