It’s the day of a big math test, you barely finish in time before the bell rings. You look over at the person next to you, who gets to stay and work for more time. This may feel unfair to you that someone is allowed more time on a test or you may wonder why they get more time and you don’t.
Accommodations are support and services provided to students to access the education curriculum and be able to demonstrate their learning. Some students struggle, or have more difficulty in grasping an understanding of school content, and accommodations can be beneficial to their well-being.
School work is not being altered or made easier: it adjusts to make those children who encounter learning difficulties finish necessary tasks to their full potential. Social studies teacher Jennifer Bauer said, “Accommodations help kids; students don’t take advantage of them.”
Teachers who have students with accommodations are expected to give them their intended accommodations. Bauer said, “It depends on the teachers, some people may expect kids to remind them of their accommodations, it’s ultimately a legal document.”
An anonymous junior has had accommodations since they were in third grade and finds them to be most helpful for accomplishing school work. They said, “When I was in third grade I was diagnosed with anxiety and ADHD that I went through my counselor to be approved for a 504 plan in school. With the plan I was given extra time on tests and quizzes and longer time on assignments. Having these accommodations has helped me to do better in school and help adapt to my learning.”
Six percent of students have individual education plans and eight percent have 504 plans out of 279 of guidance counselor Jose Varela’s students. This means 17 students have IEP’s and 24 have 504 plans according to Varela.
The 504 plans and IEPs have differences. An IEP regards a specific learning disability that needs to be supported with additional instructions, requiring more support and covering more. The 504 plans need a diagnosis and have less of a threshold to qualify for. Both plans still require documentation although an IEP requires more.
The process to get accommodations in school may take a long time with numerous meetings. The anonymous junior said, “When my parents and I first arranged a meeting with my counselor we had to wait a long time. Eventually after the first meeting we had to have two more until finally I was approved for a 504 plan that included extra time.”
Different forms of accommodations are given depending on the student. Accommodations include a change in the presentation of a certain task, a change in the way a child responds to an assignment or task, a different setting where the child learns, and a change of time and scheduling for school work, the most popular being extra time, according toVarela.
Students may believe that those with accommodations are taking advantage when they don’t necessarily need them. While some cases of needing them may be more severe than others, students are tested to get them and are reevaluated each year.