Module 2: Video 2.1

DANIELLE: Knocks on door. Walks into classroom. Hi Lisa. Is this still a good time?

LISA: Yes. I've got a few minutes.

DANIELLE: I saw your e-mail. Thanks for getting back to me about Emma. It looks like you have more than a few ideas to help Emma stay 'focused' in your math class. And you've even tried some of them out before, right? I'm impressed. This is in reference to the email sent to Ms. Adams (see Emma's profile).

LISA: Yeah, I have. But you know, I'm not really sure that any of them have worked.

DANIELLE: We may still be able to think of some new accommodation ideas that'll help.

LISA: I don't know. I guess I just don't know if an accommodation is a good idea: in class or on a test.

DANIELLE: What makes you say that?

LISA: Emma is in seventh grade. I think she needs to control her own behavior. I mean, no one is going to go easy on her in high school.

DANIELLE: That's true. And we don't want to prevent her from taking responsibility for her actions now either. But accommodations don't make things easier for students. They make things fair.

LISA: How is it fair for the other students if she's given advantages?

DANIELLE: Don't think of accommodations as advantages. They help level the playing field – they are tools that may be helpful for some students but not for others. Take a kid who wears glasses, for example. The content on the board that he is learning is not easier because he has glasses, but without the glasses, seeing the content – accessing the content – would be impossible. Giving glasses to a student who has perfect vision won't make a difference for that student. This is what an appropriate accommodation does for a student. It helps them access the content that their disability gets in the way of.

LISA: Okay. But in Emma's case, she's getting so far behind on her assignments. And her poor note-taking skills are a problem, too. How would accommodations help with that?

DANIELLE: I think that the root of her issues with missing assignments and poor note-taking lie in her difficulty with reading specifically. An appropriate instructional accommodation may help her understand the math content and prevent her reading disability from interfering with learning in your class.

LISA: But, aren't accommodations only 'masking' the problem? If Emma has reading difficulties that prevent her from understanding math in my class, why's that my concern? Pause. Sorry, I guess what I mean is, shouldn't she just work on improving her reading skills?

DANIELLE: She is working to improve her reading ability. I work with her in small groups and do one-on-one reading lessons with her. And also, a couple other special educators and I are specifically working with her on developing organizational skills so that she can focus better.

LISA: Okay, but again, if she is receiving this support, then why does she need accommodations?

DANIELLE: Accommodations could help Emma in both the classroom, and during testing while she works on these skills. Because of her reading disability, Emma is not able to read at the level of her peers, and this is getting in the way of her understanding in other classes, like yours. Although her reading ability may improve through intensive interventions and supports, this may take some time, and we don't want her to get further behind.

LISA: That's a good point. So in the future though, if Emma's reading ability and overall performance improve, then she may no longer need accommodations?

DANIELLE: Maybe- we'll definitely need to continue to evaluate Emma's progress over time. We'll want to collect data on her classroom performance to know for sure.

LISA: All right. Well, I'm willing to try.