Accommodations and Modifications... What is the difference?


What's the Difference?

“Accommodations are intended to reduce or eliminate the effects of a student’s disability; accommodations do not reduce learning expectations.” Per the PACER Center, "an accommodation is used to allow a student to complete the same assignment or test as other students, but with a change in the timing, formatting, setting, scheduling, response and/or presentation. Accommodations cannot be added to an IEP only for testing." The examples provided - a student who is blind must take a Braille version of a test. If you add accommodations to an IEP, they must be determined necessary in everyday instruction. Remember that accommodations provided to a student must be "the same for classroom instruction, classroom assessments, and district and state assessments.”

Examples of accommodations:
  • Timing and Scheduling—these accommodations may include extended time for written or verbal response, classwork, assignments, and tests; multiple breaks throughout a student’s work period or across the school day; and preferential scheduling to accommodate a student’s needs. (when the student will be instructed and assessed)
  • Setting—as in providing a setting that reduces distractions, or providing special equipment that may be necessary in a classroom or that may only be provided in a particular school.
    (where the student will be instructed and assessed)
  • Presentation—examples of presentation accommodations are providing materials in large print or Braille, books on tape, visual cues, or notes; or providing a “human reader,” someone who reads all written text. (how the student will access information)
  • Response—such accommodations may be to provide students with a scribe, a graphic organizer, calculator, electronic note taker, or speech-to-text equipment.
    (how the student will demonstrate competence)

Considering the above categories, some specific instances of accommodations may include:
  • sign language interpreters for students who are deaf,
  • computer text-to-speech or computer-based systems for students with visual impairments or Dyslexia,
  • extended time for students with fine motor limitations, visual impairments, or learning disabilities,
  • large-print books and worksheets for students with visual impairments; and
    trackballs and alternative keyboards for students who operate standard mice and keyboards.

Unlike accommodations, modifications are intended to alter materials and/or curriculum, as an adjustment that changes the standard or what was supposed to be measured by a test or assignment. By doing so, the curriculum becomes more accessible and more academically appropriate for the student. Modifications can increase the gap between the achievement of students with disabilities and the expectations for proficiency at a particular grade level. As course materials are modified to a lower level year after year, the gap widens between modified work and on-grade-level work. It is important to keep in mind that when work is modified, different or fewer questions may mean less of an opportunity for the student to practice and ultimately master grade-level skills.

Examples of modifications:
  • Reducing the number of problems a student completes—students may be given fewer problems on a worksheet or a test than the rest of the class.
  • Revising assignments—assignments may be made easier or revised to a more appropriate academic level.
  • Giving students hints or clues to correct responses.

The PACER Center
Established in 1976 as a single project of Parents Helping Parents in Minnesota, the Pacer Center serves as a training and information training center for parents and professionals across the United States. For more information visit

Visit this site at The Inclusion Lab for some content specific modifications.

Discussing Misconceptions about Accommodations
Identifying Students' Accommodation Needs

Accommodations for Students With Disabilities

This publication was produced through the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services (BEESS), Division of Public Schools, Florida Department of Education. For information on available resources, contact the BEESS Resource and Information Center (BRIC). It is currently under revision and will be posted, with permission, when it is available for distribution.

Accommodations for Florida's Statewide Student Assessments

Provided by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services (BEESS).

Selecting Accommodations: Guidance for IEP Teams

Organized through the efforts of 15 non-profits, Understood ( offers ideas and resources to support children with learning and attention issues, ages 3-20. The site is loaded with information, especially from and for the parent perspective. With that in mind, it is a valuable resource for classroom teachers in the lesson planning process and as an aid to parents in their support of the learning process from school to home.

Some Common Modifications and Accommodations
A list of suggestions on ways teachers can help students with learning and attention issues succeed in school.

Accommodations vs. Modifications
This site on, contains a chart with an explanation of the provision of accommodations in contrast to modifications.

An Assistive Technology Continuum