How to Perform Routine Maintenance on Your Child’s Accommodations
Expert advice for performing regular audits on your child’s 504 Plan, and making adjustments that reflect his changing needs and grade level.
By now, you know which school accommodations work best for your child — and which are hardly worth the effort. But do you know exactly what’s spelled out in his 504 Accommodations Plan? And do you know how they translate into daily life in the classroom? I’ve seen accommodations in 504 Plans that are either too ambiguous or too general, and I am left wondering if they make sense for the particular child.
Make it a practice to review your child’s 504 Accommodations Plan every 3 months. Evaluate and assess the validity and usefulness of the accommodations spelled out there. If a particular accommodation was helpful last year, but isn’t really a good one for this year, get rid of it. Remember, it’s a fluid document that can be revisited at your request. Here are a few helpful questions to guide you through this quarterly review:
- Does my child need sensory breaks (e.g., Movement? Deep pressure? Heavy work?). If so, ask for specific times of day and for specific types of exercises. These exercises are likely to change every 3 months, so update and edit as needed.
- Does my child regularly ask for more time to complete tasks? If so, add extended time on quizzes, tests, in class projects , and even statewide testing. Having this accommodation in your child’s 504 Accommodation Plan is especially helpful if your child will likely seek extended time on SATs or ACTs. Educational Testing Services (ETS), the board that creates and guides the SAT and ACTs, makes the determination for extended time by looking to see if the student uses it on a regular and consistent basis.
- How about extending deadlines? Now that your child is in the 5th grade or older, you may notice that she has more multi-step assignments and projects. Meeting those deadlines might be extraordinarily tough for your child, so ask for extended deadlines — but no more than 1-2 days. You want to give your child the opportunity to achieve as well as her peers, but with a limit so your budding adolescent doesn’t take advantage of a good thing!
- Who is responsible for managing the accommodation? At times, your child is left to ask for a sensory break or for extended time or revised deadlines, but can he really handle that responsibility alone? Sometimes, the answer is no. We want high-school students, especially, to self-advocate, but this might be an unrealistic task for some. Instead, the teacher and parent can monitor initially while helping your child to build the awareness that he needs to identify and request the accommodations he needs. Remember that at the college level, your child has to approach his professors, indicate that he has a 504 Accommodations Plan, and then request the specific accommodation(s) in class and for upcoming exams.
Having a 504 Plan is a wonderful support for your child. However, if it is a document that has generic or non-specific accommodations for your child, it may be quite useless. Review and evaluate your child’s plan regularly and make changes as needed.