If you have a child who struggles in school, it can be hard to make sense of all the different supports and services available. Kids get help in all sorts of ways and settings.
Intervention and accommodation are both types of support. But they aren’t the same thing, and they’re not designed to help in the same way. Here are the key differences.
|What they are||
Targeted instruction to improve a specific skill.
Interventions are based on a child’s needs. They:
A change to teaching or testing that removes barriers and provides equal access to learning. Unlike a modification, it doesn’t change what a child is learning. It changes how a child is learning.
Academic expectations aren’t lowered. A child with writing issues might be allowed to say the answers for a test instead of writing them. But the end result of the work is equal to that of kids without accommodations.
|Circumstances in which they are used||
Interventions are used to teach the skills kids need to improve a specific area of weakness. Once those skills are gained, interventions typically end.
Those weaknesses could be deficits in academic skills, like reading or writing. But there are also interventions for behavior problems (PBIS) that help kids better manage self-regulation, or learn more appropriate ways to interact with other kids.
Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan have formal accommodations included in their plans. They may or may not continue to get those supports throughout their school years.
Struggling students who don’t have an IEP or a 504 plan may be able to get informal supports that enable them to show what they know.
|What they should include||
Interventions should include targeted assessments to measure the development of a child’s skills.
Instruction should be planned carefully and provided regularly. It should include data collection (or progress monitoring) to track growth and help shape decisions about next steps.
Accommodations allow a child to get around a specific barrier or challenge. They should represent a change in one or more of the following:
|Examples may include||
Learn more about what instructional interventions are and what they aren’t. Explore common accommodations you may see in the classroom. And download a toolkit of resources that can help you advocate for teacher training on the use of a multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) — interventions that can help the school better support your child.
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About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the director of thought leadership at Understood and author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education.” She worked as a classroom teacher and early intervention specialist for more than a decade.
Jenn Osen-Foss, MAT is an instructional coach, supporting teachers in using differentiated instruction, interventions, and co-planning.