Every teacher faces the challenge of how to support students who fall below grade level. Some of these students qualify for special services on the basis of standardized test results or medical
diagnoses. However, many others don’t qualify
for IEPs—students who have had interrupted
formal education, fewer resources or exposure to
literacy, are English language learners, and who
are behind for undetermined reasons. Whether
any of these students qualify for special education is irrelevant to their need for support.
To improve the power of core instruction
for all students and to minimize the need for
intensive intervention, schools are placing
an increased focus on Universal Design for
Learning, co-teaching, and Response to
Instruction and Intervention in the general edu-
cation setting. Students who are behind grade
level are not automatically sent for special edu-
cation evaluation or intervention in a segregated
setting as they have been in past years.
Instead, general education teachers are
now tasked with differentiating instruction to
present content to students at varying levels of
functioning. Together with special education
teachers, classroom teachers adapt instructional
plans for students who need extra support.
These adaptations can include changes to the
learning environment, presentation of materials,
assessment, student assignments, and so on.
These changes aim to ensure that all students
In Providing Supports
What’s the difference between accommodations and
modifications, and why is the distinction important?
Lee Ann Jung