Step 6: Determine Adaptations That Will Allow the Student to Meet the Demand

Once the materials have been evaluated and potential problem areas have been identified, the type of format adaptation must be selected. Format adaptations can be made by:

  1. Altering existing materials – Sometimes materials are appropriate but must be modified to make them more accessible or more sensitive to learning needs. In this type of adaptation, the teacher rewrites, reorganizes, adds to, or recasts the information in alternate ways so that the student can access regular curriculum material independently. For example, the teacher may prepare an audiotape and a study guide for the student to use while other students read the text material.

  2. Mediating existing materials – When learning problems require more support than mere alteration of the existing materials, the teacher can provide additional instructional support, guidance, and direction to the student in the use of existing materials. The teacher alters his or her instruction to mediate the barriers presented by the design of the materials. The teacher directly leads the student to respond to and interact with existing materials in different ways. For example, the teacher can direct students to survey the reading material to collaboratively preview the text and then have them create an outline of the reading material as a reading and study guide.

  3. Selecting alternate materials – Sometimes the existing materials are so poorly designed that too much time and too many resources would be required to alter or mediate existing materials. When this level of frustration is reached, the format of the existing curriculum may be inappropriate, and a new set of curriculum materials should be selected – materials that are more sensitive to the needs of students with disabilities or that are inherently designed to compensate for many student learning problems. For example, a teacher may use an interactive computer program in science that cues critical ideas, reads text, inserts graphic organizers, defines and illustrates words, presents and reinforces learning in smaller increments, and provides more opportunities for practice and cumulative review – in short, universally designed curricular materials.

Most of the examples described here refer to instructional adaptations, but the same principles apply when making adaptations to written tests. For example:

  • Audiotape an existing test or break it down into chunks. (Adapting existing materials)

  • Lead students through an existing test by helping them organize their time, rephrasing test questions, or allowing them to ask questions about test questions. (Mediating existing materials)

  • Obtain interactive CD-ROM software that tests the student through an interactive process and provides feedback on an ongoing basis. (Selecting alternate materials)

  • Inquire about the types of adaptations that are appropriate for standardized tests used by the school district. Test publishers often provide information about the types of adaptations that were included in the norming of the test and that are allowed.

More on Adapting L.A., S.S., and Science Materials for the Inclusive Classroom.

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