These are three words that we often hear in education. Many parents wonder exactly what these terms mean, why each is important, and what’s the difference between them?

Accommodation:

Accommodation is exactly how it sounds; to accommodate students refers to how a student is taught. This means that they are expected to cover the same material as other students, but they are allowed to do it differently. The reason that they are to complete work differently is because if they do assignments and tests the same way as other students, it won’t really reflect what they are capable of achieving. For example, if a child has a reading disability, an accommodation may be that they are permitted to read the assigned novels by listening to audiobooks. They are still reading the same text, but their reading disability is not holding them back.

Modification:

Modification refers to what a student is taught. Gifted students may have a modified curriculum because they are expected to go into greater depth on their assignments and tests. A student who has a learning disability related to math may be working on the same curriculum strain, but is working on an earlier grade level. For example, the class is working on grade 6 fractions, but the student with the modified lesson plan is working on the grade 4 or 5 curriculum expectations for fractions instead. He is still working on fractions, but at a different level.

The Difference Between Accommodation and Modification:

Accommodation refers to how a student is taught. The expectations are the same, but how those expectations are achieved is different. With modification, the expectations are different. Either what is being taught or the expectations are changed. So, the student who had permission to use an audiobook to read the same novel as the rest of the class is being accommodated. The student who was reading a less advanced novel than the rest of the class is doing a modified lesson.

Remediation:

Remediation is extremely important. It is often completely overlooked when the correct mix of accommodations and modifications have been worked out. If accommodation is giving the students the tools that they need to keep up with the class, and modification is teaching the students at their own level, then remediation is working on the root problem that is causing the child to need accommodations and modifications in the first place.

Accommodations and modifications are important to allow the students to continue to learn along with the rest of their class, but this is essentially treading water. We need to teach these students some actual swimming lessons if they are ever going progress. It’s wonderful to be able to let students read a novel through an audiobook, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to work on teaching them to read. If you have a student who needs a modified lesson because his reading comprehension is poor, then it’s important to modify his lesson so that you can meet him at his level. However, you should still work on strengthening his reading comprehension skills. Remediation focuses on “fixing” the problem.

Accommodation and modification are like giving a wheelchair to someone who is recovering from an injury. Remediation is like giving them physiotherapy and retraining their muscles to walk. We don’t want to simply give them a wheelchair and not bother with the physiotherapy because they can get around well enough in their wheelchair. Similarly, we don’t want to deny them a wheelchair while they are working on physiotherapy because they still need to be able to get around while they are recovering.

Accommodation and modification allow students to continue to learn about history, science, math, arts, grammar, and literature while they are receiving remedial teaching to acquire the skills that will lessen their need for accommodations and modifications in the future.

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