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Will a 504 Plan Provide a Scribe & Reader for GQE Testing?
by Pat Howey

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boy taking testMy child has a 504 Plan. She is supposed to have a scribe and a reader for classroom assignments and tests. Can she also have a scribe and a reader when she takes the Graduation Qualifying Examination (GQE)?

Pat's Answer

Across the nation, parents are looking at IEPs and 504 Plans. Some are asking whether the plan meets their child’s needs. Parents often ask questions about accommodations.


Accommodations are services or items that schools provide to adjust for a child’s disability.

Accommodations do not take the place of special instruction.

Too often, that is exactly what happens. Children with disabilities have a right to special instruction. Schools must teach children with disabilities.

Schools often suggest readers and scribes for children who do not read or write well. This is appropriate as long as the school also provides reading and writing instruction. Too often, schools provide accommodations instead of special instruction.

Most children can learn to read and write. For these children, it is not appropriate for schools to provide readers and scribes in place of instruction. Schools should provide accommodations to a child with low reading and writing levels while she learns to read and write.

Accommodations supplement instruction.

Instruction and accommodations go hand in hand. They accompany each other.

When children learn to read and write, the need for readers and scribes goes away in the IEP or 504 Plan. When schools provide proper instruction they fulfill the mission of IDEA 2004. They are preparing the child for further education, employment, and independent living. 20 U.S.C. § 1400(d) (Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, page. 48)

Modifications and Adaptations

The same thing is true with modifications and adaptations. Modifications and adaptations change or adjust lessons and curriculum to meet the child’s unique needs. Modifications and adaptations do not replace instruction.

Examples of modifications and adaptations for a child with a visual impairment include

  • enlarging text
  • lessons
  • worksheets

The teacher modifies the curriculum to adjust for the child’s disability. Waiving worksheets is not an option. That lowers the bar for the child. Watering down the course work does not prepare the child for life in the adult world.

Modification, adaptations, and accommodations do not provide unfair advantages. They should not make things easier for the child. They should level the playing field for the child. They allow a child with a disability to learn the same things as his non-disabled peers. The child does the same work. He may do it in a different way.

The Real Battle

This child needs special instruction. That is the battle this parent must fight.

The parent’s concern is whether this child should have a reader and a scribe. This tells us this child cannot read or write well enough to take the GQE without accommodations.

The real question is whether the school should be teaching this child to read and write. With a reader and a scribe, she may pass the GQE. She may earn a high school diploma. But, will she read and write well enough to live on her own and earn a living.

Read what Pete Wright has to say about accommodations.

Read what Sue Whitney has to say about accommodations and high stakes testing.

Read what Pat Howey has to say about modifications.

Some children with disabilities need accommodations and modifications in their special education programs.

This 4 page printer-friendly PDF article defines accommodations and modifications and gives examples for books, curriculum, instruction, assignments, and behavior.

Remember that denying the accommodations and modifications that will allow the child equal access to an education is a denial of the child's right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Learn more here.

About Pat Howey

Pat HoweyPat Howey is an advocate who has helped parents obtain special education services and resolve special education disputes.

As a member of the Wrightslaw Speakers Bureau, Pat provides training for parents, educators, and others who want to ensure that children receive quality special education services

Read more of Pat's answers to questions submitted by people just like you in Wrightslaw's Ask the Advocate section.

Contact Information
Pat Howey
Special Education Consulting
POB 117
West Point, Indiana 47992-0117
Website: patriciahowey.com
Email: specialedconsulting@gmail.com

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Created: 07/07/09
Revised: 03/22/12

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