Voyager Sopris Learning
Voyager Sopris Learning Blog Series
Recent Blog Posts

Accommodations vs Modifications: What’s the Right Approach for Each Child?

Voyager Sopris Learning Icon
Updated on
Modified on May 13, 2024
Quick Takeaway

Accommodations and modifications are essential teaching approaches for meeting the diverse needs of students. By understanding the differences between these strategies and conducting comprehensive assessments, educators can determine the most suitable approach for each child. Whether through tailored adjustments to the learning environment or substantive alterations to the curriculum itself, the goal is to ensure every student has the opportunity to thrive academically. Additional tools for supporting student learning can be found on the Voyager Sopris Learning® education solutions page.

Accommodations and modifications are two helpful approaches to meeting the unique needs of students. Accommodations involve adjusting the learning environment or instructional methods to support students without fundamentally changing the curriculum. In contrast, modifications entail altering the curriculum itself to better suit the needs of students, often by reducing the complexity or depth of content.

But how do educators determine which approach to use for each of their students? In this article, the distinctions between accommodations and modifications will be explored, examining their respective benefits and considerations, and providing guidance about implementation strategies. By gaining a deeper understanding of these approaches, educators will be better equipped to create inclusive and effective learning environments that cater to all students.

Accommodations: Supporting Students Without Changing the Curriculum

Accommodations are tailored adjustments made to teaching methods, materials, or testing procedures to ensure all students can fully participate in the educational experience. These adjustments recognize students have unique learning styles and preferences and aim to help them succeed without altering the core curriculum. 

Accommodations may include providing extended time on tests, offering preferential seating, or adjusting assignments to match students' reading levels. Collaborating with special education teachers or support staff, educators can implement common accommodations to ensure equal access to education for all students, regardless of impairment or learning differences.

The Importance of 504 Plans

504 Plans are legal documents designed to ensure students with disabilities have equal access to education. Accommodations in a 504 Plan typically involve adjustments to the learning environment, instructional methods, or assessment procedures to support a student's access to education without fundamentally altering the curriculum. These accommodations ensure students with disabilities have equal opportunities to participate in classroom activities and demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

Modifications: Altering the Curriculum To Meet a Student’s Abilities

Modifications involve making substantive adjustments to the curriculum itself, including teaching methods, materials, and assessments, to align with individual student's strengths and challenges. These changes ensure all students can learn in a way that works best for them, promoting a more inclusive and supportive learning environment. 

For example, modifications may include providing enriched content or accelerated pacing for advanced learners, or offering modified assignments or interventions for students who require additional support. Assistive technology, such as spell checkers, may also be used as part of modifications to support students with writing, or test questions may be adjusted to suit different learning styles.

Determining the Right Approach for Each Child

Deciding whether a child needs an accommodation or modification is a challenging yet crucial task for educators. It begins with conducting an assessment using an evidence-based program to determine the child’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. This can be accomplished by administering various assessment tools, such as standardized tests, informal observations, checklists, and interviews with the student. Then, by carefully analyzing the data, educators can make informed decisions about whether accommodations or modifications are necessary to ensure the child's academic success. Inform instructional decisions with Voyager Sopris Learning's collection of evidence-based assessment tools to measure student progress and improve learning outcomes.

For instance, let's consider a student named Alex. Alex struggles with reading comprehension, particularly when faced with lengthy texts. Through assessments, Alex's teacher discovers his difficulty with processing written information but also identifies his strong auditory skills. Based on this assessment, the teacher determines Alex may benefit from accommodations such as extended time on reading assignments or audio recordings of texts to support his auditory learning style. 

However, if Alex's struggles are more profound and require changes to the curriculum itself, a modification may be necessary. In this situation, a modification could be providing him with simplified reading materials or modified assignments that differ from the curriculum his peers receive. 

Discover Resources for Both Approaches

Accommodations and modifications both serve as valuable teaching approaches depending on a student's unique needs. Through careful assessment, teachers can determine which approach is required and begin implementing it effectively. Ultimately, with the correct use of accommodations or modifications, each student in a classroom will have the opportunity to thrive. 

To explore additional solutions for supporting student learning from the reading, writing, and math intervention specialists, check out Voyager Sopris Learning’s education solutions.