Students at Rectory School are inquisitive, bright, and motivated. Our students have a wide range of interests, prior experiences, and learning profiles. This is what makes our school community rich and vibrant. As faculty, we are committed to the mission of “providing students with a supportive academic community that addresses individual learning styles, aptitudes, and needs.” One way to ensure that all students are able to perform at their best is to provide students with accommodations when necessary.
What is an accommodation?
An accommodation removes obstacles to learning that exist for students with learning differences or health while keeping the content of the learning the same. This means that a student with a learning accommodation is expected to learn the same material as his/her peers, yet be provided with support so he/she is able to access the material. For example, a student with dyslexia would have access to an audiobook during English class, yet still be expected to participate in class discussions, respond to questions, and take an exam. With an accommodation, students’ learning expectations are not lowered or adjusted.
What are the types of accommodations?
Depending on a student’s learning profile, certain accommodations will be more effective than others. Simply put, a one-size-fits-all approach does not work. Accommodations fall under one of four categories: presentation, response, setting, and time.
Presentation accommodations take into consideration how information is conveyed or shared with a student. A student with slow auditory processing, for example, may have difficulty keeping pace with a class lecture. Therefore, appropriate accommodation may include providing the student with visual information to accompany the lecture in the form of a graphic organizer, a copy of class notes, or even recording the lecture so the student can listen to it again.
Response accommodations take into account how a student demonstrates his or her knowledge or understanding of class material. A student with visual-spatial challenges may benefit from using graph paper when working on math problems to ensure alignment of numbers and student with dysgraphia may use speech-to-text software to lessen the demands of handwriting.
Setting accommodations consider the environment in which a student performs at his/her best. Walk into classrooms, and you will be sure to see a variety of seating and occasionally, standing desks. Some students find working with noise-reducing headphones to be extremely helpful and others benefit from preferential seating placement.
Finally, extended time is considered an accommodation, especially for students for whom processing or attentional needs to be considered. However, timing and scheduling accommodations should also be extended to students who have anxiety or dexterity needs. Most often time or scheduling accommodations are considered for assessments, including standardized tests such as the SSAT.
How does one become eligible for an accommodation?
To be eligible for an accommodation, a student must have educational testing/ neuropsychological evaluation on file. Students who attended public school prior to coming to Rectory may also have an IEP or a 504 plan outlining the accommodations needed. From there, an accommodation plan is crafted and shared with a student’s teachers, dorm parents, advisor, tutor, and coaches. If a student is enrolled in the Individualized Instruction Program (IIP), then the student’s tutor works with the student to craft an accommodation plan with student input. This is especially important for our upper-grade students as we want them to increasingly own their learning profiles and be in a position to self-advocate.
If you have further questions or are in need of resources, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d be more than happy to talk.