iPads and IEPs: Digitizing Special Education (VolumeOne - Assessment)

Since the first day iPads entered my classroom, I have been saying, "Wow... these things would rock for Special Education." As our class learns how to better harness the power of technology in our classroom, this sentiment becomes ever more true. Here is the first in a series of posts that I hope to write exploring the ways one can digitize special education....

Today's Topic: Accommodations and Modifications on Assessments
Below are just a few of the testing accommodations and modifications on one student's IEP:

· Administer in small group
· Highlight key words/phrases
· Provide cues
· Read directions orally
· Read entire test orally
· Read Extended Response sub test(s) orally
· Allow flexible schedule: As needed
· Extend time allotted by 25 percent
· Allow 2 stop-the clock-breaks
· Give subtests in different order (where permitted)
· Administer in location with minimal distractions
· Administer test at a particular time of day: optimum time of day for student
· Provide drink during testing

Wow. Right? Now imagine that - times 7 students - all with slightly varying details. How is one teacher, with only a 60-minute period to administer an assessment - supposed to do all of this? Well once again thanks to the magic of iPads, it's not only possible, it's quite easy!

First, I determine how I will modify the assessment for each student. Then, I identify the appropriate accommodations for individual children. So far, very similar process to how one normally goes about assessing students with special needs, right? Here is where it takes a turn for the awesome: at this point I am ready to record the test. That's right - I record the assessments.

I create a short video walk-through of the assessment, just as I would if I were administering it one-on-one with the child. I can utilize visual cues, insert short clips of lessons if that is appropriate, model manipulatives and cue breaks for the child. Come time for the assessment, I simply give the child the test, whatever manipulatives or other materials they may need and plug in a set of headphones to an iPad. Voila - that student can take the test - independently - yet still receiving 1-on-1 support. I am then able to circulate amongst by other 20 students, monitor the test for them and give more specific, live support to students - both those with IEPs and without - as needed.

Digitizing support in this way has been pretty amazing. I've seen my students blossom; those once afraid to take an assessment are now eager to begin as they know they will receive the "just right" support they may need. I just wish I had thought of this sooner!

Up Next in this Series:
  • Apps for IEPs

  • Attacking the problem of MPW vs. actual time needed to teach

  • How to use iPads to differentiate to a class of students in varying grades with varying IEP goals

  • If you have other ideas for us to explore, please write one in!

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