Accommodations vs. Modifications. What can schools do for students that don’t have identified IEPs, but require modifications?


Universal tools are access features of the assessment that are either provided as digitally- delivered components of the test administration system or separate from it. Universal tools are available to all students based on student preference and selection. The Smarter Balanced digitally- delivered assessments include a wide array of embedded universal tools. These are available to all students as part of the technology platform. Some universal tools may need to be provided outside of the computer test administration system (non-embedded).

Designated supports for the Smarter Balanced assessments are those features that are available for use by any student for whom the need has been indicated by an educator (or team of educators with parent/guardian and student). Designated supports need to be identified prior to assessment administration. Embedded and non- embedded supports must be entered into the Test Information Distribution Engine (TIDE). Any non- embedded designated supports must be acquired prior to testing.

Accommodations are changes in procedures or materials that increase equitable access during the Smarter Balanced assessments. Assessment accommodations generate valid assessment results for students who need them; they allow these students to show what they know and can do. Smarter Balanced states have identified digitally-embedded and non-embedded accommodations for students for whom there is documentation of the need for the accommodations on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 accommodation plan. Determination of which accommodations an individual student will have available for the assessment is necessary because these accommodations must be made available before the assessment, either by entering information into the TIDE, for embedded accommodations, or by ensuring that the materials or setting are available for the assessment for non-embedded accommodations.

PLEASE NOTE: Any adjustments to the default of regular test Universal Tools (if you’re going to the next level of Designated Supports or Accommodations) must be entered into the TIDE system ahead of signing in for the test. A Teacher/Test Administrator (TA) will not have the credentials to change settings in TIDE – this needs to be done by a School Test Coordinator (SC), District Test Coordinator (DC) or District Administrator (DA) so it should be done ahead of time.