Maryland Statewide Individualized Education Program (IEP) Process Guide July 2014  

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Instructional and Testing Accommodations

IDEA requires that the student’s IEP include a statement of any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the student on State and district assessments. Accommodations are intended to reduce or mediate the effects of the student’s disability; they are not to reduce learning expectations. The accommodations provided to a student must be the same for classroom instruction, classroom assessments, and district and State assessments.

 

Three sections within the Statewide IEP should contain relevant academic, functional, and developmental data to provide the IEP team a comprehension picture of accommodations the student may need to address the impact of the student’s disability upon instruction and assessment. These areas include:

• Section I, Meeting and Identifying Information, Student Participation in District/Statewide Assessments and Graduation Information
[20 U.S.C. §1412(a)(16); COMAR13A.03.02.08]
o Documents the student’s previous participation and results in State and district assessments.

• Section II, Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance
[20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(1)(A); COMAR13A.05.01.09A]
o Describes how the student’s disability affects the student’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum—the same curriculum as non-disabled students.

• Section III, Special Consideration and Accommodations
[20 U.S.C. §§ 1414(d)(3)(B); 1414(d)(1)(A)(i); COMAR 13A.05.01.03B; COMAR13A.05.01.10A; Maryland Accommodations Manual, June 2012]

o Documents consideration of communication and assistive technology device(s) and/or service(s).
o Documents considerations if the student is visually impaired, deaf or hearing impaired, or limited English proficient.
o Documents instructional and testing accommodations.
o Describes supplementary aids, services, program modifications, and supports that are provided in general education classes or other instructional settings to enable students with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled students to the maximum extent appropriate.
 

Accommodations

Accommodations for instruction and assessment are integrally intertwined. Accommodations do not reduce learning expectations. They provide access. The use of accommodations does not begin and end in school. Students who need accommodations for instruction and assessments will generally need them at home, in the community, and as they get older, in postsecondary education and work.

Accommodations:

a) Enable students to participate more fully in instruction and assessments and to better demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

b) Must be based upon individual student needs and not upon a category of disability, level of instruction, time spent in general classroom, or program setting.

c) Must be justified and documented in the student’s IEP.

d) Must be justified and documented in Section II Special Considerations for Services for Students with Limited English Proficiency" of the IEP for students with disabilities that are also limited English proficient, or English language learners. For students with disabilities who are also ELL, the IEP is the controlling document for accommodations.

e) Must be implemented as soon as possible after completion of the IEP and must be aligned with and be a part of daily instruction. Accommodations MUST NOT be introduced for the first time during the testing of the student.

f) Must be approved as specified in the “Maryland Accommodations Manual.”

g) Not explicitly mentioned in the “Maryland Accommodations Manual” and/or multiple accommodations do not constitute reasons to exempt students from assessments. The School Test Coordinator (STC) must coordinate with the Local Accountability Coordinator (LAC) prior to testing to address issues caused by the need to provide multiple accommodations.

 

The student’s IEP team should decide on the appropriate accommodation(s) at the IEP development or review meeting for the year in which the student is scheduled to participate in district or Statewide assessments and indicate the decision on the student's IEP. The student’s IEP team shall forward recommended accommodations to the School Test Coordinator. Accommodations must be justified, utilized within the instructional setting, and documented in the student’s IEP. [Maryland Accommodations Manual, June 2012]

 

Modifications

Modifications or alterations refer to practices that change, lower, or reduce learning expectations. Modifications can increase the gap between the achievement of students with disabilities and expectations for proficiency at a particular grade level. Using modifications may result in implications that could adversely affect students throughout their educational career.

Examples of modifications include:

• requiring a student to learn less material (e.g., fewer objectives, shorter units or lessons, fewer pages or problems);
• reducing assignments and assessments so a student only needs to complete the easiest problems or items;
• revising assignments or assessments to make them easier (e.g., crossing out half of the response choices on a multiple-choice test so that a student only has to pick from two options instead of four); or
• giving a student hints or clues to correct responses on assignments and tests.

Providing modifications to students during classroom instruction and/or classroom assessments may have the unintended consequence of reducing their opportunity to learn critical content. If students have not had access to critical, assessed content, they may be at risk for not meeting graduation requirements. Providing a student with a modification during a state accountability assessment may constitute a test irregularity and may result in an investigation into the school’s or public agency’s testing practices.

 

It is critical for students with disabilities to understand their disabilities and learn self-advocacy strategies for success in school and throughout life. Some students have had limited experience expressing personal preferences and advocating for themselves. Teachers and other IEP team members can play a key role in providing guidance and feedback to students with disabilities on skills needed to effectively advocate for themselves in the selection, use, and evaluation of accommodations. The ability to advocate for him or herself is a skill each student with a disability will need in their post-school adult life in order to identify and request reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The more students are involved in the selection process, the more likely the accommodations will be used, especially as students reach adolescence and the desire to be more independent increases. Self-advocacy skills become critical here. Students need opportunities to learn which accommodations are most helpful for them, and then they need to learn how to make certain those accommodations are provided in all of their classes and wherever they need them outside of school.

Use the questions provided below to guide the selection of appropriate accommodations for students receiving special education services for the first time and for students who are currently using accommodations:

• What are the student’s learning strengths and areas of further improvement?

• How do the student’s learning needs affect the achievement of grade-level content standards?

• What specialized instruction (e.g., learning strategies, organizational skills, reading skills) does the student need to achieve grade-level content standards?
• What accommodations will increase the student’s access to instruction and assessment by addressing the student’s learning needs and reducing the effect of the student’s disability? These may be new accommodations or accommodations the student is currently using.

• What accommodations does the student regularly use during instruction and assessments?

• What are the results for assignments and assessments when accommodations were used and not used?

• What is the student’s perception of how well an accommodation “worked?”

• Are there effective combinations of accommodations?

• What difficulties did the student experience when using accommodations?

• What are the perceptions of parents, teachers, and specialists about how the accommodation worked?

• Should the student continue to use an accommodation, are changes needed, or should the use of the accommodation be discontinued?

Of the accommodations that match the student’s needs, consider:

• The student’s willingness to learn to use the accommodation;
• Opportunities to learn how to use the accommodation in classroom settings; and
• Conditions for use on state assessments.

Plan how and when the student will learn to use each new accommodation. Be certain there is ample time to learn to use instructional and assessment accommodations before an assessment takes place. Finally, plan for the ongoing evaluation and improvement of the student’s use of accommodations. Refer to Maryland Accommodations Manual, June 2012.
 

Presentation Accommodations

Presentation Accommodations
Allow students to access information in ways that do not require them to visually read standard print. These alternate modes of access are auditory, multi-sensory, tactile, and visual.

 

NOTES: The human reader and text to speech accommodations are not allowable accommodations for selected sections on the PARCC assessments.


Document Basis for Decision(s) (required)
A required text field for an IEP team to provide additional information to document the basis of the IEP team’s decision. If addressed properly, documentation will meet requirements of prior written notice (PWN), in accordance with 34 C.F.R. §300.503 and COMAR 13A.05.01.12, PWN includes:

• A description of the action proposed or refused;
• An explanation of why the public agency proposes or refuses to take the action;
• A description of the options the public agency considered and the reason the options were rejected;
• A description of each assessment procedure, test, record, or report the public agency uses as a basis for the proposal or refusal;
• A description of any other factors relevant to the proposed or refused action;
• A list of sources a parent may contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of IDEA; and
• If an action proposed by a public agency also requires parental consent, a public agency may provide notice at the same time it requests consent.

[20 U.S.C §1415; 34 C.F.R. §300.503; COMAR 13A.05.01.12]

 

Response Accommodations

Response Accommodations
Allow students to complete activities, assignments, and assessments in different ways or to solve or organize problems using some type of assistive device or organizer.
Document Basis for Decision(s) (required)
A required text field for an IEP team to provide additional information to document the basis of the IEP team’s decision. If addressed properly, documentation will meet requirements of prior written notice (PWN), in accordance with 34 C.F.R. §300.503 and COMAR 13A.05.01.12, PWN includes:

• A description of the action proposed or refused;
• An explanation of why the public agency proposes or refuses to take the action;
• A description of the options the public agency considered and the reason the options were rejected;
• A description of each assessment procedure, test, record, or report the public agency uses as a basis for the proposal or refusal;
• A description of any other factors relevant to the proposed or refused action;
• A list of sources a parent may contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of IDEA; and
• If an action proposed by a public agency also requires parental consent, a public agency may provide notice at the same time it requests consent.

[20 U.S.C §1415; 34 C.F.R. §300.503; COMAR 13A.05.01.12]

 

Timing and Scheduling Accommodations

Timing and Scheduling Accommodations
Increase the allowable length of time to complete an assessment or assignment and perhaps change the way the time is organized.
Document Basis for Decision(s) (required)
A required text field for an IEP team to provide additional information to document the basis of the IEP team’s decision. If addressed properly, documentation will meet requirements of prior written notice (PWN), in accordance with 34 C.F.R. §300.503 and COMAR 13A.05.01.12, PWN includes:

• A description of the action proposed or refused;
• An explanation of why the public agency proposes or refuses to take the action;
• A description of the options the public agency considered and the reason the options were rejected;
• A description of each assessment procedure, test, record, or report the public agency uses as a basis for the proposal or refusal;
• A description of any other factors relevant to the proposed or refused action;
• A list of sources a parent may contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of IDEA; and
• If an action proposed by a public agency also requires parental consent, a public agency may provide notice at the same time it requests consent.

[20 U.S.C §1415; 34 C.F.R. §300.503; COMAR 13A.05.01.12]

 

Setting Accommodations

Setting Accommodations
Change the location in which a test or assignment is given or the conditions of the assessment setting.
Document Basis for Decision(s) (required)
A required text field for an IEP team to provide additional information to document the basis of the IEP team’s decision. If addressed properly, documentation will meet requirements of prior written notice (PWN), in accordance with 34 C.F.R. §300.503 and COMAR 13A.05.01.12, PWN includes:

• A description of the action proposed or refused;
• An explanation of why the public agency proposes or refuses to take the action;
• A description of the options the public agency considered and the reason the options were rejected;
• A description of each assessment procedure, test, record, or report the public agency uses as a basis for the proposal or refusal;
• A description of any other factors relevant to the proposed or refused action;
• A list of sources a parent may contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of IDEA; and
• If an action proposed by a public agency also requires parental consent, a public agency may provide notice at the same time it requests consent.

[20 U.S.C §1415; 34 C.F.R. §300.503; COMAR 13A.05.01.12]


 

Instructional or Testing Accommodations Considered
Indicate, as applicable, if the IEP team considered the student's need for instructional and testing accommodations, and determined that accommodations were not required.
Document Basis for Decision(s) (required)
A required text field for an IEP team to provide additional information to document the basis of the IEP team’s decision. If addressed properly, documentation will meet requirements of prior written notice (PWN), in accordance with 34 C.F.R. §300.503 and COMAR 13A.05.01.12, PWN includes:

• A description of the action proposed or refused;
• An explanation of why the public agency proposes or refuses to take the action;
• A description of the options the public agency considered and the reason the options were rejected;
• A description of each assessment procedure, test, record, or report the public agency uses as a basis for the proposal or refusal;
• A description of any other factors relevant to the proposed or refused action;
• A list of sources a parent may contact to obtain assistance in understanding the provisions of IDEA; and
• If an action proposed by a public agency also requires parental consent, a public agency may provide notice at the same time it requests consent.

[20 U.S.C §1415; 34 C.F.R. §300.503; COMAR 13A.05.01.12]