How Accommodation Plans Help Your Child Learn

When and how do schools use accommodation plans for students?

Teachers put together accommodation plans for some students.
Teachers put together accommodation plans for some students. Compassionate Eye Foundation/Martin Barraud/Getty Images

Accommodation plans are important for children identified with learning disabilities and other types of disabilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Section 504, a civil rights law that covers Americans with disabilities. It It prohibits disability discrimination by any program or activity that receives federal funds. That list includes schools, which are required to provide appropriate, reasonable adaptations and modifications for a broad range of potential disabilities.

Learning-disabled students who receive specially designed instruction are automatically covered under Section 504.

Accommodation plans are also used for children who have been measured as gifted or advanced. Simply put, an accommodation plan helps parents and teachers meet a child's learning needs.

When does my child need an accommodation plan?

An accommodation plan is a written set of instructions that detail specific strategies and practices that will be used to communicate to teachers what strategies and practices will be used to ensure that a student's learning needs are met. It details any specialized learning materials or equipment needed for the child's instruction or physical needs. And it explains any classwork or homework modifications the child will receive.

In addition, an accommodation plan, known in some circumstances as an IEP and in others as a 504 plan, will list any additional support services the child may need to benefit from education, explain any grading or assessment changes the student will receive, detail the strategies used for behavior modification plans, and specify how the parents or guardians of a child will assist with the accommodation plan, if applicable.

Finally, an accommodation plan will detail the child's responsibilities regarding the plan, if any.

How are accommodation plans used?

Schools may use accommodation plans for students as part of an individual education program (IEP), a special education or SPED program, or a Response to Intervention program.

For students with a physical or mental impairment who do not meet the requirements to receive special education services, a 504 plan may be an alternative.

A 504 Plan must be implemented by school staff. If you suspect your child has a disability that may qualify, call the 504 coordinator in your district to request a meeting to discuss your child's needs and the possibility of an evaluation. For the latest modifications and updates to Section 504, be sure to check the Department of Education website.

An IEP must explain how the child's learning disability or giftedness affects his or her progress in the general education curriculum. IEP teams typically use formal assessment to determine a baseline of performance for a child. The team may also use anecdotal information and progress data from the child's classroom teachers to describe the child's skills and needs.

For more information on the way Section 504 is implemented in your state, refer to the U.S. Department of Education.

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