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What are accommodations?
Accommodations allow disabled students to complete the same tests and assignments as their nondisabled peers, but with changes in timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response, and/or presentation. Students receiving accommodations are still expected to demonstrate the same level of mastery over the same content as their nondisabled peers. Accommodations are intended to minimize or even eliminate the effects of the student’s disability. In essence, they level the playing field so a disabled student is given equal footing with nondisabled peers.
Who is eligible to receive accommodations?
Accommodations are available to a student who has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan. Accommodations are driven by the individual needs of a student and are determined by the IEP team. Whenever possible, it is important to ask the student which accommodations would be helpful, and to include them in the discussion.
What are some accommodations that have been helpful to autistic students?
Reading and Written Expression
Executive Functioning (Attention, Organization, Work/Study Skills)
Emotional and Self-Regulation
Where can I find out more about accommodations?
You can find a list of many standard accommodations on pages 19–28 of this sample Maryland IEP. The examples listed in the Maryland IEP are meant to be representative and not exhaustive. Your child’s IEP team may develop other accommodations to meet the unique needs of your child. For more information on accommodations, see the "Maryland Assessment, Accessibility, & Accommodations Policy Manual."
Are modifications the same as accommodations?
Modifications are not the same as accommodations. Modifications change what a student is taught or what knowledge a student is expected to demonstrate. In contrast, accommodations are designed simply to level the playing field -- meaning that accommodations enable students receiving special education to achieve the same level of mastery as students without that support. Students receiving special education through an IEP are eligible for accommodations and modifications. A 504 plan offers only accommodations, not modifications.
Some minor modifications — such as reducing the number of questions on homework assignments, or breaking assignments into smaller units — may not impact a student’s ability to master grade-level content. More significant modifications may alter what a student is expected to learn, which may mean that your child will not receive credit toward a high school diploma. Significant modifications could include modified content, modified grading systems, and modified assessments, such as open-book exams or substituting multiple choice tests for fill-in-the-blank ones. Situations differ, so check with your IEP team about the impact of any modifications.
Where will my child’s accommodations and/or modifications be documented?
Students who are found eligible for accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act should receive a 504 Accommodation Plan from their school. The 504 plan outlines the accommodations that the student will need in order to receive a “free and appropriate public education." You can learn more about how MCPS implements 504 plans here.
If your child receives special education through an IEP in Maryland, their accommodations and modifications will be documented in Section III of the IEP: Special Considerations and Accommodations.
What are related services?
Students with an IEP may also receive "related services" in addition to accommodations. These services might include counseling services, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech/language therapy. For a list of related services, see page 32 of this sample IEP. A 504 plan does not offer related services. Read more about related services on our Related Services page.