The line between accommodating because that's what teachers do and really needing a specific IEP

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Backroads, Jan 21, 2020.

  1. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    I have a couple of kids driving this question. They're struggling. They're not an IEPs. In one case, it's very unlikely parents will allow an IEP. They have, however, asked for accommodations here and there.

    I get that unofficial accommodations are part and parcel of teaching, but they're getting to the point where I just don't know if I can handle and advocate for them on my own. Some of these requests are very much in the realm of dealing with a potential learning disability.

    A few examples:

    Providing pencil grips for child.
    Providing alternative seating.
    Providing front-row seating.
    Organizing study, desk, and backpack materials for child.
    Providing individual material to copy, or having the child dictate while I write the words with a highlighter.
    Finding individual space in another classroom for tests, which are best given to child one-on-one.

    I know these aren't so terrible, and the children in question are on RTI at the moment, but I am specifically worried about the one where the parents are uncomfortable with IEPs. I'd like to have accommodations documented, and I would like to have guaranteed support to help me these.

    Where would you draw the line between what you would do just because that's what teachers do and stating this really should be legally backed?
     
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  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    I think you are at the line. If you are out, will whoever covers for you have the luxury of being able to provide services that should be contained and addressed in an IEP without the road map that an IEP would provide? Additionally, if the two who aren't on an IEP, but should be, were properly covered by a well written IEP, it might somewhat change the person that the school looked for to cover your class. As students are evaluated for the following year, an IEP is the big red flag that says "READ ME" if you really want to know about the needs of this child. Sometimes, parents who believe they will never allow their child to have an IEP, need to see the differences between their child receiving accommodations covered in an IEP versus their child not receiving all of the things that an IEP can dictate. They may be in for a rude awakening, and then, who do you think they will blame? "Why didn't you tell us?" will be the battle cry. Been there, done that.
     
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  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    I always consider if future teachers will be able (and willing) to provide the accommodations I do. If the answer is anything other than a solid "yes", I start the process.
     
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  5. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I totally agree this is a hard line. We want to help, but sometimes by helping, we are robbing the student of the actual services they need. Many parents don't want special ed services, but they are much more likely to agree if their child is failing everything. It is so sad that has to happen some times to get parents "on board" with the testing and services their child so desperately needs.
     
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  6. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    IMO, it comes down to what may be an LD issue and what could just be a development thing with younger students that could very well even out with time. Pencil grips? If they're not above 3rd grade, totally. Alternative seating? Sure, as long as it's not only for that set child. Front row? Only if there are open seats not needed by IEP kids. The rest of it? Nope. What I would do with the "accommodations" is try to give the child what they need, but also document it in writing and communicate it to the parents. Those same "accommodations" should be available to any student. My line would be where you can't possibly offer the same options to everyone who may want them.

    In my room, I offer a few unofficial accommodations to every student, though only some truly need them. My kids all have chromebooks, but I offer hard copy assignments and materials in addition to virtual because some of the kids have a hard time typing or reading on the computer. I have a folder where the kids who tend to lose things can put their incomplete papers instead of taking them to their lockers never to be seen again. Most of the kids don't need them, but ALL of them have access if they want them. Nothing can be construed as an unfair advantage that way.
     
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  7. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Providing individual material to copy, or having the child dictate while I write the words with a highlighter.
    Finding individual space in another classroom for tests, which are best given to child one-on-one.
    Organizing study, desk, and backpack materials for child.

    Can you do this for every student in the classroom? If the answer is yes, then you are the teacher I wish my son could have had. But that line was drawn for me, and I look back and see that he got the help he needed through his IEP. That IEP morphed, over time, into a more appropriate 504 Plan. But I wouldn't have known how to make sure that he received that protections he needed without our child study team. I was on board with his IEP, while my husband was reluctant. However, when he saw our son able to function without seeming out of place, because all of the services were so seamless, he got on board. Let's remember, and we should assure our parents, that an IEP is a living, breathing document that can change as our students grow and need more or less. It is that single thing about an IEP that is so amazing. When my son was young, it seemed like some service or another worked with him multiple times a week, sometimes even multiple services occurred during a day. He had a lot of needs since he had delays from being very early delivery. Five years down the road, some of the therapies had slowed down, but others had taken their place, as academic challenges had replaced some of the physical ones. His IEP grew with him, and I am so familiar with Backroads original posts, because each one of those accommodations is something that I saw on my son's IEP about the time he started school. To this day we will still sit in the front row if we go to a workshop together, because he is still blind in one eye, he still does better when he can see the presenter's face, he takes notes with his computer, because he doesn't have to look down (an example of something they taught him when he was young before students were using computers all the time in classrooms). Even in college, he was still allowed to have infinite time to take exams, and a quiet room for testing.

    Maybe knowing when it is time to realize that little Suzie or James don't have to feel so alienated in the classroom with the protection of an IEP is the greatest gift a parent can give a child who is "not quite like everyone else."
     
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  8. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    I make sure to tell parents that if they want certain types of accommodations, like scribing or reading aloud, provided for their child on state assessments, there has to be an IEP or a 504 in place. Otherwise, we can’t provide it even if we want to.
     
  9. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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    I’d draw it here (above). When you start modifying coursework, not just accommodating, they need an IEP, or at least in the process of getting one. If they need special one on one support to complete grade level work, they should have something in writing stating they need help.

    When a parent doesn’t want services but their child is clearly struggling, I don’t provide IEP-type modifications (such as read-aloud tests) because I feel that their grade should reflect they’re struggling. Often, only when a parent sees repeated bad grades do they take the issue seriously.
     
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  10. vickilyn

    vickilyn Multitudinous

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    Jan 22, 2020

    100% in agreement.
     
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  11. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Maven

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    Is that all for one student??? Why can't the parent just send him in with pencil grips? Do these students actually need these things or do the parents just WANT them?
     
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  12. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Not all for one student.

    Did send in pencil grips. Child lost them, so I gave a couple I had lying around.

    I'm not entirely sure about the difference between want and need, and I'll explain why. This is first grade, so there is part of me that's looking out for age-appropriate-ish skills and another part of me wondering if it's my fault they're lacking skills. Like I said, both children in question are in RTI, so with the way data is going I'm hoping a higher and fiercer voice than me might get listened to. Me as a general ed. teacher and all the knowledge and lack thereof that implies would think both kids need further evaluation and might evaluate from any IEP that follows.

    Pencil grip child does seem to need... something. Writing is unintelligible without one, still a mess with one, and it seems to be more extreme than the usual "I'm but a mere first grader with bad handwriting" case.
     
  13. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Thanks so much for your thoughts on this.

    It's a fairly small class, so I do have some mild confidence I could theoretically offer all of these to any child who asked (we also have paras we are welcome to use for individual testing). I mentioned in another reply that there might be a "it's first grade" bias where I do want to give what support I can.

    I just found myself realizing that I'm just no match for an IEP. The thing is, I would happily continue to do the same things if they were on an IEP, because I also assume products would be coming from a budget, or so-n-so faculty member would be available to help as part of job description, and so and so forth. Furthermore, I'd have the confidence that the issues noticed were getting looked at by professionals.
     
  14. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Some thoughts to consider:

    First, having an IEP usually doesn't guarantee more resources for most of these accommodations. It's not like the IEP provides you with someone else to administer the preferential seating or testing location.

    Second, RtI/MTSS - and the IEP process in general - is less of hard-and-fast categorial system in which certain kinds of supports should only be provided within certain tiers. In reality, RtI is more of a resource allocation tool. Any student is theoretically eligible for any support, it's just a matter of organizing school resources and being sure we've tried more simple & efficient supports first. To that end, anything that can be provided in a Tier I context probably should be.

    Stepping aside here and injecting some context: The old way of thinking about IEPS & SPED is from a disability model in which there are perceived core differences in the student which need to be addressed via different strategies or different people or different contexts. The reality, and the research, in contrast suggests that students struggle for a variety of reasons. As such, RtI/MTSS has moved us away from the thinking that we need to "find" or "identify" kids who are fundamentally different, identify how they're different, and put them where they belong (including the right "tier"), and toward the idea of fluidity of supports - an ever-changing combination of supports that addresses the specifics of the student's need given the context & structure of the educational environment.

    So, my viewpoint is that the ultimate answer to your questions lies with you - do you - in your classroom - have the capacity to provide those particular accommodations for those particular students? If so, then it's a tier I support structure (assuming they're needed in the first place). If not, that becomes a need that needs to be met with more resources.

    In other words, a strategy does not belong to a tier inherently. There is no automatic line above or below which a strategy becomes Tier II or Tier III, or IEP-worthy vs not.

    All of that said, I fully agree with everyone suggesting that the provision of these supports to these kids may be unsustainable in the long-run, so by providing them now without certain documentation, the child may end up with less support in the future. If, in your particular educational environment, particular accommodations almost always occur in the context of an IEP, and you're bending over backwards to provide them without, then what happens next year with a teacher that is less willing to do that?

    Also, I strongly believe that modifying certain parts of the educational experience is off limits in a general education/Tier I setting - for example, testing accommodations fundamentally change and, to be honest, often invalidate test results. Some things are in the middle - for example, a mastery or standards-based approach would suggest that if a child hasn't mastered the standard, you delay the curriculum to focus on the unlearned standard until it's learned. This is technically modifying the curriculum, but that modification is expected within that particular instructional context.

    I guess my line would be this: If it's a matter of providing supports, the question is what can you do reasonably in a classroom, doing what you can and documenting what you're doing. If it's a matter of changing the child's educational experience such that it might invalidate assessments or result in the child not having exposure to the curriculum, that's probably something that needs to be formally documented. However, that doesn't mean it still wouldn't be a Tier I (or equivalent) support - just that the action is known.
     
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  15. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    A few ideas- have they had their vision checked? That could explain it. Is their fine coordination or hand-eye coordination age-appropriate? If you think you could do it without upsetting the apple cart, suggest to the parents activities like the old lacing cards that build those skills.
    I know someone used to make thicker pencils for geared towards k-2, and those might work better. I can see the pencils in my mind's eye; they were metallic blue, but I can't see the brand. Mom used to use those with some of her first graders.
     
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  16. tillock watson

    tillock watson New Member

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    thanks to the author for the perfect information, rightly stated and located with minimum or negligible confusion.
     
  17. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    Vision has been checked. The child has a glasses prescription; however, getting the glasses to school is another story. I actually do have a lot of layman concerns about the other motor skills.
     
  18. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

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    I wish I'd thought of this before. It is too late for me, but really good advice for others.
     
  19. Tired Teacher

    Tired Teacher Groupie

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    Front Row Seating- I remember 1 yr w/ a class of GT kids almost ALL of the parents demanded the front row seating. I told the P to get me a long trailer for a classroom.
    Nope, nope, nope! :) On the organizing the kid's stuff for them. :) If parents want that, they can sign the papers for SPED. They need to teach their own kid to be responsible or get an aide.
    I can't imagine putting my hand inside of most kid's backpacks. I am not a germaphobe, but some of these kids are coming from homes that could have mice, lice, and a host of other gross stuff. A kid came to school 1 day with dog poo in their backpack.
    The idea of thinking about what will future teachers be willing to do seems like an awesome way to gauge it.
     
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