MP3 Players for Special Education Test-Taking Accommodations
Here's the executive summary: I am a veteran special education teacher looking for better ways to serve the needs of my students. I have found that MP3 players are extremely useful for providing read aloud accommodations, but the funding isn't there through the school system. To learn more about my project, read more below:
Students with special needs face obstacles and hurdles in both their acquisition of new knowledge, and their ability to express what they know. As a special education teacher, I strive to find effective accommodations and modifications that help these students meet their educational benchmarks and goals. One accommodation that is useful for students with a variety of types of disabilities is the read-aloud accommodation for tests and quizzes. However, an accommodation is only effective if it can be efficiently applied and accessed by the students.
In a nutshell, the read aloud accommodation means that a test or quiz is read orally to a student or group of students. This can benefit students who have difficulty processing visual information, who have deficits in their reading/decoding ability, or who have attentional difficulty. The reality in the classroom, is there are too many students with this accommodation for the teacher to read to each student individually. Some students know the answers quickly, and are ready to move on, while other students need questions repeated, and take longer to answer. This is especially true for math, where the students have to perform calculations in order to find the correct answer, and work at their own pace. So how do I make sure that all students are receiving the read-aloud accommodation that they need?
The answer I found this year is with MP3 players! I can read a test aloud in advance, load it up onto MP3 players, and every student receives their own read aloud accommodation in which they can control the pace of the questions, and any needed repetitions. In the past, I have been frustrated that by the end of the test, only a handful of students are still paced on the same question as me, when I know they all need the benefit of read-aloud. Additionally, they can be resistant to the idea of using this accommodation because it makes them feel different. With the use of MP3 players, I have much greater buy in with my students. They don't get frustrated by having to wait on others when they are ready to move on, and using the MP3 players in school makes them special in a cool kind of way. I have seen a drastic increase in the effective use of the accommodation, and as a result, students' performance on assessments.
So here's the problem. We only have 21 working MP3 players for our entire school. With a student body of over 1,200 students, and a special education population of more than 200 students, 21 MP3 players is simply not enough. When multiple teachers and subjects are testing on the same day, there are not enough MP3 players to go around. As a math teacher, I feel the benefit of these MP3 players is critical to my students' performance on assessments. I am trying to purchase a set of at least 35 MP3 players for the 8th grade math classrooms at my school. Use for this test accommodation is just one of many potential uses for MP3 players in the classroom. Please help me to meet my students' needs!