The Difference Between Accommodations and Modifications

Health Writer

Both in education and in the workplace, the terms modifications and accommodations are used to describe changes made to help someone with a disability succeed. Through the years, these terms have been used interchangeably, even though they both have different meanings.

The term "accommodation" refers to changes in the procedures, however, does not result in a change of what is measured. For example, if a student receives additional time or takes a test in the resource center to minimize distractions, then the procedures for the test are changed, but how the test is graded or measured remains the same.

Additional examples of accommodations:

  • Allowing extra time to take a test
    Allowing tests to be taken in a quieter environment
    Seating in front of room
    Hands on activities
    Working in small groups
    Using school organizers
    Having a teacher assistant or classmate help with gathering supplies and books for homework
    Receiving test study guides from the teacher
    Using positive reinforcement behavior strategies in the classroom
    Extra communication between parents and teachers
    Reducing homework to every other question to be completed

On the other hand, if a child is given an oral spelling test rather than a written one, the actual test would be changed, making it a "modification." Other examples of modifications would include being allowed to use a calculator during a test or having the number of questions reduced. Modifications can also be changes in curriculum.

Additional examples of modifications:

  • Simplifying lessons for lower levels of understanding
    Reducing reading levels
    Simplifying vocabulary
    Adjusting grading to weighted grading

Most children with ADHD will require accommodations rather than modifications. The exact needs of a child are determined by a team. This team normally includes parents, teachers, school psychologists and school administrators. This team works together to determine the needs of the student and to create a positive learning environment.

See Also:

Section 504 for Children with ADHD

Classroom Management of ADHD

Suggestions for IEPs and Section 504s