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In primary and secondary education, "accommodations are changes that are made in how the student accesses information and demonstrates performance" (Rule 6A-6.06411(1)(a), Florida Administrative Code). According to Beech (2005a, p. 7), "accommodations involve a wide range of techniques and support systems that help individuals with disabilities work around limitations that result from their disability. Expectations and performance standards do not have to be lowered when accommodations are provided. Individuals with disabilities often require accommodations in three general areas: 

  • instruction and assessment 
  • learning and work environment 
  • job and task requirements."

The provision of accommodations is governed by several federal and state laws:

  • The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) which covers eligible students with specified disabilities up to age 22 in the public schools;
  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 which covers anyone in a program, activity, or service funded by the federal government in schools or elsewhere;
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 which covers everyone in the processes of hiring, employment, promotion, training, and other programs.
  • Florida state laws and regulations such as those for K-12 course modifications, statewide assessments, graduation test requirements, and equal access to educational programs (Beech, 2005a, pp. 8-9).

Accommodations commonly found in school and work settings vary for each individual and each setting and may include

  • Assistive technology such as pencil grips, color coding, talking calculators, word prediction software for computers, and tape recorders
  • Assessment and instructional aids such as books on tape, study guides, organizers, extra time with the teacher, sign language, word processors, raised line drawings, note-takers, oral and written directions, additional time, flexible scheduling, study guides, and a quiet area to take tests 
  • Changes to the learning or work environment such as behavior management techniques, accessible facilities, appropriate lighting, and adjustable furniture
  • Job accommodations such as voice output software, spell and grammar check software, large screen displays, time management and organization aids, to do lists, job coaches, training or counseling, ergonomic work spaces, flexible hours, and personal assistants (Beech, 2005a, pp. 28-43).

Unique Accommodations for the FCAT

The IEP Team’s Guide to FCAT Accommodations (Beech, 2005b & in press) provides detailed information on accommodations that have approved for the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT). Approved accommodations must be documented in the student’s Individual Educational Plan (IEP) (Beech, 2005b, p. 8) or 504 plan. Specific FCAT accommodations have been approved in the following categories:

  • Presentation – changes to the way the test is presented or formatted
  • Response – changes to the way the student responds to the test questions
  • Setting - changes to the test setting or location
  • Scheduling – changes to the date or time the test is scheduled or to the amount of time needed to take the test
  • Assistive Devices – technology that changes the way the test is presented or the way the student responds to the test (Beech, 2005b, pp. 13-20)

Some students may need unique accommodations that are not approved in one of the five categories described above. If so, the district must submit a request to the Commissioner of Education using the FCAT Unique Accommodations Request Form accompanied by a copy of the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan containing proper documentation of the accommodation requested. Both the district assessment coordinator and the exceptional student education director must sign the request form (Beech, 2005b, pp.20-21 & in press).  

Accommodations Not Allowed on the FCAT

Accommodations that change the reliability or validity of the FCAT are not permitted. "Examples of accommodations that are not permitted on the FCAT include reduced number of test questions, use of spelling or grammar check in a word processor on extended responses and essays, graphic organizer software to assist in preparing responses, text-to-speech software for passages and items testing reading skills,...[and] use of a calculator for basic math computation" (Beech, 2005b, p. 23).

"If accommodations are recommended for a student for classroom instruction or testing that are not permitted on the FCAT, the parent must be notified. The parent must give his or her signed consent for the use of those accommodations in the classroom and must acknowledge in writing that he or she understands the possible future consequences of using accommodations in the classroom that are not permitted on the FCAT" (Beech, 2005b, p. 23).

"If a student used accommodations that are not allowed when using the FCAT, a report describing the situation should be placed in the student’s permanent record. A description of  the accommodations or changes made during testing with an explanation of the purpose should included in the report. Any testing irregularity must be reported to the district assessment coordinator or the Bureau of K-12 Assessment" (Beech, 2005b, p. 13 & in press).


Beech, M. (2005a). Accommodations and modifications for students with disabilities in career education and adult general education. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services and Division of Community Colleges and Workforce Education. Available at

Beech, M. (2010b). The Guide to FCAT and FCAT 2.0 Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services. Available at /7690/urlt/0070100-fcatteam.pdf   

Beech, M. (in press). The IEP team’s guide to FCAT accommodations. (Revised). Tallahassee, FL: Florida Department of Education, Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services.


Making the Move to Managing Your Own Personal Assistance Service (PAS): A Toolkit for Youth with Disabilities Transitioning to Adulthood 
This resource from the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth and its partners discusses a number of Personal Assistance Service (PAS) issues such as the difference between job-related and personal PAS, individual readiness, identifying needs, covering costs, awkward moments, and more.

Accommodations and Modifications for Students with Disabilities - What Parents Need to Know (2003) /7690/urlt/0070070-ac-mod-parents.pdf 
This guide explains educational accommodations and modifications to parents including who is eligible, working with teachers, and monitoring results.

Acomodos y modificaciones: Lo que los padres tienen que saber (Revisido en 2003) /7690/urlt/0070071-accomm_span_parent.pdf
This is the Spanish language version of the accommodations and modifications guide for parents.

The Guide to FCAT and FCAT 2.0 Accommodations for Students with Disabilities /7690/urlt/0070100-fcatteam.pdf
This guide provides information on the participation of students with disabilities in the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test, allowable accommodations, and a decision-making process for determining accommodations.

Agreement for the Transfer of Assistive Technology (MOA) (Scroll down to 2006 and click on K12: 2006-131)
This Memorandum of Agreement describes the arrangements between several state agencies to ensure that assistive technology will be available to children and youth with disabilities as they progress from home to school to post-school life.  

Section 504 Accommodation Plan for Postsecondary Adult/Vocational Education Students (May 2004)
This guide describes how to complete a Section 504 Accommodation for eligible students and includes sample plans for students with different types of disabilities.





The development of this website was funded by the University of South Florida St. Petersburg
through a grant by the Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services,
Florida Department of Education (2010 - 2011, 291-2621A-1C008).

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