October-November-December 2016

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Accessibility for ALL
Accommodations vs. Modifications
Accessibility features are most effective when used both during classroom instruction and assessment (interim, benchmark, formative, state, and classroom).  Accessibility features do not change the kind of achievement being measured, instead these features increase equitable access to demonstrate what students know and can do.  Accessibility features can be used by ALL students, including students on an IEP, Section 504 Plan, and an ILP (Individualized Language Plan). 

It is important to have a common language when referring to accessibility features that are used during instruction and assessment. The consistency in the common language will not only be beneficial to educators and students but will also help support parents or guardians to better understand what options their students have in order to demonstrate what it is they know and can do during instruction and assessment.

One area that creates a lot of confusion in the field of education is the difference between accommodation vs. modification.  Many times the words are used interchangeably, but both words do carry significant differences in their meaning. A description of both accommodation and modification should help support the forward movement of creating a consistent common language for instructional and assessment purposes.

Accommodations:   are changes in procedures or materials that ensure equitable access to instructional and assessment content and generate valid assessment results for students who need them. Accommodations do not reduce the learning expectations.  Accommodations are generally available for students for whom there is a documented need on an IEP or 504 accommodation plan, or Individual Language Plan (ILP).
Modifications:  refer to practices or materials that change, lower, or reduce required learning expectations. Modifications may change the underlying construct of the lesson or assessment. Examples of modifications include:
  • requiring a student to learn less material (e.g., fewer objectives, shorter units or lessons, fewer pages or problems),
  • reducing assignments and assessments so a student only needs to complete the easiest problems or items,
  • revising assignments or assessments to make them easier (e.g., crossing out half of the response choices on a multiple-choice test so that a student only has to pick from two options instead of four), or
  • giving a student hints or clues to correct responses on assignments and tests.

2016 ND SPDG Project Update: North Dakota Multi-Tier System of Support

North Dakota’s Multi-Tier System of Supports (ND MTSS) Project is in the fifth and final year. Statewide implementation will be sustained through collaborative ND Regional Education Association (REA) efforts.  The project is led by the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services through a State Personnel Development Grant from U. S. Department of Education – Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). This project is designed to help schools develop school-wide support systems in academics and behavior. NDMTSS project collaborators include the Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative (MDEC), South East Education Cooperative (SEEC), Missouri River Education Cooperative, (MREC), the National Technical Assistance Center on Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports (PBIS.org) and the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN)

NDDPI project staff, SEEC, and MDEC REAs, formed an Implementation Support Team specifically to plan for conditions that make implementation of effective practices with fidelity reasonable, practical and doable, through a collaborative statewide process. This team created a framework specific to ND MTSS. Over the past five years, three Cohorts (each cohort consists of multiple school districts), two pilot school sites, and one demonstration site have been and continue to be involved with the implementation process. ND MTSS is defined as a framework to provide all students with the best opportunities to succeed academically and behaviorally in school. MTSS focuses on providing high-quality instruction and interventions matched to individual student need, and monitors his/her progress frequently to make decisions about changes in instruction or goals. Data are used to allocate resources to improve student learning and support staff implementation of effective practices. ND MTSS project staff work with the REA implementation team to effectively deliver supports to school teams in North Dakota. SEEC and MDEC teamed to offer a statewide ND MTSS conference is June each year. This educational conference has one of the highest participation rates in the state.

SEEC, MDEC, and MREC are offering ND MTSS training opportunities throughout the school year. When a district or school commit to ND MTSS, REA staff can conduct a gap analysis of their region’s desired state and current state of implementation (needs analysis), and then uses the results to develop a plan for training, coaching, technical assistance and distribution of materials, based on their region’s needs (planning). Once the plan is created, the implementation team manages implementation efforts (implementation). Adjustments to the plan are based on data to ensure successful outcomes (evaluation). It is also the responsibility of this team to embed this work with existing district initiatives (e.g., school improvement). More ND MTSS information can be found at: www.ndmtss.org and https://www.nd.gov/dpi/SchoolStaff/SpecialEd/mtss/
If your school or district is interested, contact MDEC, SEEC, and MREC REAs.
Luke Schaefer
Mid-Dakota Education Cooperative (MDEC)
Phone (701) 838-3025

Jennifer Glasheen
Southeast Education Cooperative (SEEC)
Phone (701) 446-3170
Molly Olson
Missouri River Education Cooperative (MREC)
Phone: 701-751-4041       

Nancy Burke
NDDPI SPDG Coordinator
Phone: 701-328-3731