Special Needs - 1 - Developing an Individualized Plan (Assignment #3)

posted Aug 28, 2018, 8:45 AM by Emily Kroutil

Overall, I like Plan B much better.  Plan B is more specific in many ways.  Below are a few of the things I liked about Plan B over Plan A:

  • This plan was updated recently.  504 Plans and IEPs should be updated yearly.  Students change and the supports they require in order to be successful can change.  For example, a student may not need a 100% time accommodation anymore and may only need a 50% accommodation.  The opposite can also be true.  A student with a 50% extended time accommodation may still be struggling and may need more time to complete their assignments. If these plans are not reviewed frequently, the student might continue to struggle.
  • The section "Information Relating to Nature of Disability" was more detailed.  I liked that it included what I'll call "personality information."  I find it helpful to know if a student is shy and doesn't often reach out for assistance.  To me, the more information provided about the student, the better I can accommodate this student.
  • The section "Description of Accommodations/Services" was very specific. I liked seeing exactly how much extended time was offered to Sally.  As the instructor, I find it helpful to know exactly what I need to do for a student to best support them. Plan A mentioned preferential seating. This accommodation is not incredibly useful in the online environment.
  • The "Student Responsibilities" section was also more detailed.  This section mentioned that Sally should communicate BEFORE a due date to arrange an extension, not after. This helps Sally be proactive with her assignments, rather than reactive.
Honestly, I thought Plan B was very detailed and included more information than I usually receive about my online students.  This plan seemed to be written especially for the online environment.  It mentioned accommodation like making sure Sally knows how to use the zoom function on her browser, how to access the additional resources in the sidebar, and synchronous sessions.  It also left out any mention of preferential seating and other obvious face-to-face classroom accommodations.

Plan A was not preferable for a variety of reasons.  Mostly, this plan was vague and seemed to include some accommodations that make no sense in an online environment.  I've outlined a few of the problems I had with Plan A below:
  • Plan A was implemented in 2016, but isn't scheduled to be reviewed until 2019.  This means her plan is not scheduled to be reviewed for 3 years!  Three years is an eternity for a growing child!  That could be the entirety of middle school!  Or it could be implemented in 8th grade and wouldn't get looked at again until 11th grade!  That would mean the student could go almost all of their high school career without even a glance at their accommodations.  The adjustment from middle to high school often challenges students and not looking at the child's accommodations to see if they still make sense for 3 years is ridiculous!
  • The section "Information Relating to Nature of Disability" lacked information.  Plan B included things like Sally's personality and academic strengths. Leaving this information out of Plan A leaves the teacher receiving Plan A at a distinct disadvantage when trying to support Sally.
  • The section "Description of Accommodations/Services" was pretty vague. 
    • This section mentions extended time, for example, but does not mention how much.  With a plan like this, the teacher does not know how much extended time to offer the student.  We used to have problems with this in my face-to-face classroom.  Plans were written vaguely and stated that the student had "extended time" on their assignments.  Students and parents would approach teachers at the end of the semester with piles of work stating that their plan allowed them to turn in this work late.  Or, students would have, for example, a week of extended time, but then they wouldn't complete their assignments before the in-class test the assignments were meant to prepare the students for.  Having a reasonable and specific amount of extended time, keeps everyone on the same page. It lets the student know how much "extra" time they get and, hopefully, avoids procrastination.  It also lets the teacher know specifically how much extra time to offer the student.  
    • This section is vague with respect to the "reduce coursework" accommodations.  When this particular accommodation is written like this, students and parents often expect the number of assignments to be reduced drastically and sometimes even expect to "pick and choose" which assignments they complete.  Written this way, this accommodation does not take into consideration the fact that the student must still learn all of the state-mandated standards of the course.  Plus, some courses have a bare-bones number of assignments, so there isn't a lot of overlap or room for removing assignments without significantly compromising the integrity of the course.
    • This part of the plan also mentions preferential seating.  This makes little to no sense in an online environment.
  • The "Student Responsibilities" section lacked detailed. Students do well when they know exactly is expected of them.  This section lacked the detail that was found in Plan B.  It does not mention that Sally should contact the teacher BEFORE the due date, rather than after the due date if she needs an additional extension.