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Sandy:  is it possible to ask the school to lessen the workload of a child? Still assigning work but not necessarily weighing the overall grade as much as trying to complete it and weighing it differently than other fellow students more of a grade for participating rather than the actual assignments completed and being required to hand in less than other students?

  1. If a student has an IEP the school can lessen the workload as an accommodation in several ways that do not fundamentally alter the standards required:

    1. In reading, using condensed texts such as Sparknotes
    2. By reducing the required length of an assignment involving written expression.
    3. Reducing the number of questions in an assignment that cover the same standards as questions or problems (often true in math)
    4. Allowing alternate ways the student can demonstrate mastery of standards. A project can often be used to show mastery in multiple standards simultaneously.
    5. Using alternative texts that utilize a lower lexile level that usually reduces the amount of reading and time to process information.
    • What if the student had a 504 plan? A reduction in work load seems like a reasonable accommodation for someone with very slow processing speed

  2. You certainly can ask. Their likelihood to oblige will depend on the circumstances.

    What specifically is being reduced and how reduced it is? A reduced workload could be considered an accommodation or a modification, depending on how much is reduced. It would be an accommodation if it did not fundamentally alter the standard that the student is working towards.

    Schools can provide an accommodation to any student they feel needs it. When it involves a non-disabled student, you’re most likely to see this through a response to intervention system or differentiated instruction.

    Does the student have a disability? Schools must provide accommodations to eligible disabled students whose disability necessitates it.

    Have they been found eligible for an IEP? A reduced workload would be a modification if it did fundamentally alter the standard for the student. Generally schools will provide such curriculum modifications to students who are eligible for IEPs.

    • Jill- I have the same question about workload. My son missed about 26 days last semester and fell behind in most of his classes. He has an IEP for anxiety and high functioning autism, and most of his missed days are due to related health problems. The school is not willing to reduce his overall workload or provide extra assistance to get caught up in classes he has fallen behind. The will only accommodate for writing because that’s where he is behind according to his test scores. Can the school be required to provide additional individualized support (like tutoring) to get him caught up for missed days along with a reduced workload to reduce stress and make the work more doable given how much school he misses?

      • If his disability is affecting impacting his schoolwork, then the school should be addressing this and providing support to all of his academics. His disabilty sounds like it can impact him as a whole and not just what is being said by one test score. What test score was used? Were different modalities used? If not, then ask why! How does his autism manifest? It may not just manifest in writing, but in all aspects, which then needs to be addressed and supported by the school. That is what an IEP is there to do!

      • If he missed 26 days as a result of his anxiety then you can add accommodations into his IEP that address the behavioral, social, and school performance needs regardless of whether those were areas of known academic weaknesses. The IEP is individualized to meet the student need and address school functioning and that is not limited to just academic skill deficits. You can definitely ask for another IEP to be convened and ask for accommodations to support the attendance piece if his anxiety is preventing him from attending school and thus impacting his school performance. Reducing/waiving assignments when absent due to medical or condensing assignments for longer periods of absences are reasonable accommodations that we have used in the schools before. If they are reluctant, look into getting an advocate to help support your child’s needs for the IEP meeting. In the parental procedural safeguards document (ask school for a copy or look on state website) there should be a list of local organizations that can assist you with advocacy.

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