I found Chapter 17, “Is the Practice of Providing Accommodations to Children in Special Education a Good Idea?” of Taking Sides by Dennis Evans, a broad, rather vague and particularly uninspiring discussion regarding special education. While accommodations for students with disabilities seems to be an area of recurrent discussion and re-evaluation, I do not believe the issue is whether or not accommodations are a “good idea”, but rather, we, as educators should be focused on WHAT accommodations are best suited for our students and HOW best me might go about implementation. According to MaryAnn Byrnes, “an accommodation is an adjustment to an activity or setting that removes a barrier presented by a disability so a person can have access equal to that of a person without a disability” (Evans, 2008, p. 317). Not only is it our legal obligation, but also our moral imperative to provide an equitable learning environment and opportunities for all students.
After comparing the arguments for and against accommodations and whether or not the enable to disable students, I believe the key is providing “appropriate” accommodations (Evans, 2008, p.318). Implementing Individualized Education Plans and varying degrees of accommodations depends completely on context and the unique situation of each student. To save time, or make assignments easier, teachers sometimes disservice students by providing indiscriminate modifications to assignments or tests that can prevent students from taking responsibility for their own learning, teach students to circumvent knowledge acquisition and reinforce negative habits or behaviors.
Accommodations must be continuously evaluated so as not to “alter the essential purpose of an assignment or assessment” (Evans, 2008, p. 319). At the same time, as a future educator, I intend to do my best to provide for the needs of every student to ensure that my classroom is a place where all students have equitable access to learning, feel comfortable, challenged and known.