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Phil:  I would like to know if it is legal for a regular education teacher to modify the curriculum for a struggling student who is not on an IEP.

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I was always taught that if you have modifications for a student that has an IEP, then it was considered resource which is outside of the classroom. And that if you were an inclusion student, then you do the same work w/o change in curriculum but can have accommodations to help support the student.
But now I am being told that you can modify work inside the classroom if it’s on their IEP. But how is that supporting inclusion only?


One more point of clarification: yes, teachers may need to address gaps in skills by re-teaching skills from lower grade levels and/or providing academic interventions, however that approach is meant to be temporary, not long term, and is not considered “modification”. In the field of education and special education there are many educators using the term “modify” to mean different things. In this context, to modify means to significantly alter, lower and reduce the expectations for a student within the curriculum. The decision to do so has serious implications for a student long term, especially around earning a diploma to graduate high school. Hope this helps.


Hi, technically the answer is no. All teachers in every state are required to teach the grade level standards for each subject area and may not lower the outcomes or expectations for students unless specified legally in an IEP. “Modified” curriculum in its truest definition means to lower the complexity of the content, and is usually only implemented (per IEP) when a student has a cognitive disability or intellectual impairment. What you may be talking about however is “adapting” the curriculum or perhaps using UDL approaches (Univeral Design for Learning), which would require a student to learn the same grade level content but students would have options to show the content skills in varied modalities and methods (for example, verbal task vs paper and pencil tasks).


My son has 504 plan for ADHD. He has always struggled with math and this year has physics. By law can we ask for modified tests for him in that class? The school is suggesting he switches to the easier physics class referred to as ” applied physics ” however he would have to drop out of his band elective to do so. Being in band gives him a social element we feel is important although he seems to be considering the idea. Input is greatly appreciated!



Your son can stay in his physics class. A 504 will have all of the modifications he needs. You can request for these. He needs band because that is a great way to give him that social element he needs. I would request in writing a meeting with the principal, his physics teacher along with his caseworker to list the modifications that he needs. The school can suggest but if he has the 504 plan they have to follow that so he has the right to be in the harder physics class.


I will answer for the state of New York — I’m not completely certain this would hold in any state. Yes, a regular education teacher may modify the curriculum informally, as long as the student gets exposed to the regular curriculum.
Please ask your parent center to be sure.


Not “modify” but give accommodations…correct?