Informing School Rehabilitation Professionals: Evidence-Based Practices of Accommodations in the Inclusive Classroom

Informing School Rehabilitation Professionals: Evidence-Based Practices of Accommodations in the Inclusive Classroom

Pei-Ying Lin (University of Saskatchewan, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1431-3.ch005

Abstract

The importance of appropriate use of test accommodations has drawn researchers to look closely for empirical evidence that supports the appropriateness and effectiveness of current accommodation practices over the last three decades. To inform teacher candidates enrolled in special education courses as well as school rehabilitation professionals who may or may not be new to the field, this chapter synthesizes research findings on the effectiveness of major accommodation categories and discusses how to make valid decisions for students with diverse special learning needs.
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Introduction

Providing equitable education for all learners has become a concurrent core value for inclusive education worldwide (American Educational Research Association et al., 2014; Florian, 2008; Skiba et al., 2008). It has been asserted that students with special needs should not be penalized because of their exceptionalities (Popham, 2009; Principles for Fair Student Assessment Practices for Education in Canada, 1993). The existing policies are certainly an improvement on the past, where without the use of accommodations, students with special needs were often excluded from the learning opportunities offered to students without such needs (Pullin, 2008). As such, it is imperative to promote equitable teaching practices of accommodations for special education student populations who are placed in the inclusive classroom setting.

A test accommodation is characterized by a change in an aspect of the test administration that can help students with special needs bypass learning difficulties. It is not related to the knowledge or skills the test is intended to measure (e.g., American Educational Research Association et al., 2014; Bolt & Thurlow, 2007; Fuchs et al., 2000a, 2000b), thus maintaining test validity and fairness. These changes are usually in one or more of four types of the test administration: timing, setting, presentation modality, and response modality (Fuchs el al., 2005; National Research Council, 2004). Examples of accommodations include the provision of extra time, the use of assistive technology, or reading text aloud.

In an earlier study, Fuchs et al. (2000a) found that teachers were over-accommodating students with learning disabilities for a reading comprehension test. More importantly, teachers had difficulty in accurately predicting whether or not students would benefit from the accommodations. In this study, teachers recommended accommodations to students who actually did not benefit from them. It was even more problematic when students without recommended accommodations had better outcomes than those with the accommodations recommended by teachers. Similar findings were also found in mathematics (Fuchs et al., 2000b). These findings highlight the needs for teacher training in the use of accommodations. As it is imperative to make use of evidence-based practices (Chorpita & Starace, 2010; Kretlow & Blatz, 2011; National Institute for Literacy, 2005), this paper reviews previous studies on accommodations for students with special needs and summarized the major findings of the research. Our review can be used to inform teacher candidates enrolled in special education courses as well as school rehabilitation professionals who may or may not be new to the field.

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