International schools and Christian schools in general tend to have a high turn-over rate. At our school, people sign a standard 2-year contract that is renewable, but so far I am the veteran, having 5 consecutive years teaching at our school. Due to this high turn-over rate, we have realized the need to have an extensive curriculum documentation process in place and to purchase textbooks that guide teachers in meeting the needs of ESL and Special Needs students. This year, I was very excited and happy to note that our school brought in a Resource specialist to work with our kids and guide us in instructional practices.
For some of our teachers, however, it was mystifying. Our Resource specialist tried to explain how to modify tests. Some teachers said, “But I don’t have enough time!” However, the law requires us to make time. And modified tests do not really need to take you longer than 15 minutes to make. Most teachers had this concept about modifying tests and instruction that they had to write two brand new tests every time they wanted one! For those who were relying on A Beka tearouts (We are still phasing A Beka out of our curriculum, not that those who use it should be offended…), this was a nightmare. In reality, the idea is that you are testing on the same material, but you just have to check the wording and make it look different on the page so that those with processing disorders, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, and reading disabilities do not get points wrong simply because they are not understanding the instructions. Your 15 minutes of time may make the difference between a happy, confident, motivated student and a failing, miserable, depressed student. I ask you now, is it worth it?
Graphic organizers comes in handy for meeting the needs of special students. Most of them work well when they can picture the information that goes in the box and map it out in their heads. The important thing to remember is that multiple choice does not really work well with most special needs students. Long matching columns also can be confusing as they lose track of their thoughts. Give them smaller matching columns, graphic organizer responses and do not take points off for spelling. A graphic organizers link is located in my right hand column.
I would like to gather together some samples of your modified tests so that we can share and make them available for other teachers who are confused about how to create modified tests in a time-saving way. I will post these tests here on the Forum for people to view. Unfortunately, I cannot pay you for sharing your tests with all of us, but I hope that you are willing to trust that if you share your materials with us, one day you will find materials that you can use as well. I ask that all those who use the Forum respect the materials shared and do not sell them, post them on their own personal websites, or take credit for the work of another. Please upload your own tests/quizzes to your blogs/sites and then send me the URL link for access. For right now, here in a link that I discovered in the process of seeking lesson plans for inclusion:
The above site is a secular one, but I believe that reaching all children is a mutual goal of all educators. Also, if you have tips for instructing Special Needs students that have been key to your success, share them with us in a comment! I would love to hear from you!