The Game Has Changed: Do Accommodations Level the Playing Field, or Alter the Sport?

Open Access
O'brien, Sean T
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Richard Cyr, Thesis Supervisor
  • William Carlsen, Honors Advisor
  • Stephen Wade Schaeffer, Faculty Reader
  • Richard Cyr, Honors Advisor
  • accommodations
  • modifications
  • students with special needs
  • education
  • UDL
  • Braille
  • extended time
Accommodations and modifications are two words frequently confused or misused in the educational world. This mistake can lead to harmful consequences for students when it comes to state standardized testing. Even when the distinction between accommodations and modifications is known, there is still a wealth of problems and lack of evidence for the ten most common accommodations: Braille, Computer/machine response, dictation, extended time, interpreter for instructions, large-print edition, mark answers in the test booklet, oral accommodations, clarifying directions, and test breaks. Currently there are many issues relating to the use of accommodations in the classroom: a dearth of evidence, most studies are conducted in elementary schools, teacher accommodation selection pitfalls, and the use of blanket accommodations. With the implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a proactive approach to try and alleviate the current downfalls of accommodations, schools may be able to better level the playing field.