Iowa districts and schools provide a wide range of programs through a multi-tiered system of supports to help all students achieve the Iowa Early Learning Standards, the Iowa Core, and Essential Elements. Common elements of these programs include:
- Effective, evidence-based instructional programs and interventions
- Differentiated instruction and intervention strategies
- Individualized supports, accommodations, and alterable variables to ensure access to instruction and assessment procedures and materials
- Evaluation of student performance and program effectiveness
- Collaboration among educators, relevant agencies, and families
All learners are expected to work toward rigorous standards and participate in statewide assessments. It is important to ensure that all learners have sufficient access to instruction and assessment procedures and materials so they are able to successfully acquire the expected knowledge and skills and apply their learning in assignments and assessments in school and in the community.
Using Problem Solving to Select Supports and Accommodations
A four-step problem solving process can be used to select, implement, and evaluate supports and accommodations. This problem solving process is adapted from the collaborative inquiry process in MTSS (Iowa Department of Education, 2014; 2016-f; 2016-m; 2016-n) and the SETT framework used in the analysis of a student’s needs for assistive technology in special education (Zabala, 2005-a; 2005-b).
The teacher and the decision-making team should follow these guidelines when making decisions about supports and accommodations:
- Supports for learning and performance or accommodations do not change or reduce the expectations of the standards.
- Supports and accommodations facilitate instruction and assessment by reducing barriers to learning and performance.
- The student’s need for specific supports or accommodations is an individual data-based decision.
- The student will need the same supports or accommodations for classroom instruction and assessment, including statewide and districtwide assessments.
- The student is willing to use the support or accommodation for instruction and assessment (Shyyan et al., 2016).