Myths About Accommodations
Myth #1: Accommodations are a crutch and the student will become lazy.
Fact: Accommodations are not put into place to create low standards or a lack of discipline. They are a
necessary intervention that is needed. Keep in mind: no student wants to be different. No student wants to have dyslexia. They would much rather be able to do the very same assignments, the very same way, as everyone else. But until they have had the right type of intervention or tutoring, they can't.
Accommodations are meant to be temporary. They will only be needed until the student has had enough of the right type of intervention or tutoring—and can now read, write, and spell at grade level. But until that point, accommodations are absolutely necessary.
Myth #2: It isn't fair to do something for one student that you don't do for every student.
Fact: Being fair does not mean treating everyone exactly the same, because in reality, we are not all the same. So standardized, one-size-fits-all education works no better than one-size-fits-all pantyhose.
Fair means providing each student what they need to have a chance to succeed. If the student grabs hold of that chance, and works very hard, then that student can succeed. If the student does not grab hold of that chance, or does not work hard, then that student will not do well. Providing an accommodation does not mean a student will automatically do well in class. But it gives that student a chance to succeed.
Myth #3: The student should not get an A if he has a shortened assignment, since he did not do all the problems.
Fact: If a teacher gives a shortened assignment to a student who reads and writes slowly, or who still has to count on his fingers to figure out the answers to addition and subtraction problems, and that student answers all of the questions correctly, then that student has earned an A. A student's grade should be determined by calculating the number of questions answered correctly divided by the number of questions given—not the number of questions given to everyone else.
Myth #4: There is not enough money in the budget for accommodations or special teacher training.
Fact: Most classroom accommodations do not cost anything, and they do not require any special training.
Myth #5: If a teacher does not deduct points for spelling errors, the student will never learn how to spell.
Fact: Children with dyslexia cannot learn to spell the traditional way. Their spelling will not improve just
because a teacher marks a word wrong or writes the correct word in red. It will not even improve if the student writes the correct word 100 times.
It will greatly improve once they have been taught spelling using a very different approach—an Orton-Gillingham approach –that matches their brain’s way of learning.
Until then, their essays, in-class assignments, and answers to questions on tests should be graded on content only. Ignore the spelling.
Myth #6: Only children who have an IEP can get classroom accommodations.
Fact: Teachers can choose to provide classroom accommodations to any child who needs them—whether or not that child has an IEP or a 504 Plan. Classroom accommodations can also be listed on a literacy
improvement plan or on the recommendations page of a Student Study Team. Parents should express their
desires and give the teacher a chance to provide the modifications regardless of the child’s formal status.
Myth #7: Teachers cannot accommodate because they cannot change the curriculum.
Fact: Accommodations do not mean changing the curriculum.
Accommodations are either a slight change in the way the teacher presents information or tests students to determine if they have mastered the skill. They can also include minor adjustments in the way students practice new skills so they can master them.
Adapted by Karen Isaacson with permission from Susan Barton,
Developer of the Barton Reading & Spelling System