IEP and 504 Plan Accommodations Are Not Benefiting Kids with ADHD

A study published in Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal reviewed students with ADHD who have an IEP, 504 plan, or informal school accommodations.  It was discovered that accommodations such as extended test time, regular breaks, having the test read aloud, calculator use and reduced boy student 300x201distractions in the exam rooms are not working.

The study observed 96 Maryland students with ADHD in grades 3rd-8th. Test scores were evaluated from the Maryland School Assessment (MSA), as well as, individually administered cognitive tests. These tests and observations were all linked to the five testing accommodations listed above. When the study participants were compared to ADHD students who did not receive these accommodations, it was found that none of the five testing accommodations were associated with better scores on any of the tests.

Lead author of the study, Alison Esposito Pritchard, a clinical psychologist at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore said she was surprised about the results because she had also used these accommodations for her patients. However, she also said, “Conceptually, it made sense that [the accommodations] might be helpful to kids with ADHD, but once I started looking at the literature, I found a gap at looking at the effectiveness of those accommodations.” She continued, “Education is an area where they are really trying to talk about best practices and use evidence-based based teaching strategies. We can’t say that extended time [for instance] is ineffective, but we can [say] that it’s not working the way we’re doing it right now.”

In theory, these accommodations should work well.  However, students with ADHD often have weak executive functions. This means they struggle to pay attention, transition freely from one task to another, organize their materials, control their impulsivity, etc. Therefore, giving a student more test time when they cannot focus will not be effective. It may simply give them more time to daydream.  It is necessary to strengthen executive functions skills.  Students will then be able to perform much better academically and in daily activities.  The school accommodations may still be necessary. However, when executive function has improved, they can truly benefit from the accommodations that have been provided.

Play Attention is a fully customized program designed to improve executive function and guide you to success. Play Attention could be the tool for your school to help support students struggling with ADHD or weak executive function.

Play Attention incorporates many of the successful interventions that were cited in a recent study on how to improve academic success in a student with ADHD. You can read more about that study by visiting our blog page; Are ADHD Students Getting the Help They Need in Schools.

To discuss starting a customized program for your struggling student, call 800-788-6786.