Modified Assignment

Alternate Assignment, Partial Completion

UDL 3.4 UDL 5.3

Teachers may provide modified assignments when grade-level work is inappropriate for students. Modified assignments assess the same skill(s) or standard(s) as the assignments from which they're derived, but are altered to accommodate students' varied needs and abilities. Modifications may include increasing or decreasing the scope of an interdisciplinary project, adjusting the required length of a writing piece, creating a timeline or to-do list for a long-term project, or altering the required contribution to a group activity. Modify assignments based on assessment data, knowledge of students, and the associated objective. Ideally, modified assignments are tailored to individual student needs, and maintain the rigor, opportunities for practice, and intended outcomes of the original assignment.

Implementation Tips

Coach students to self-monitor and recognize when they need additional scaffolds. This process takes time, specific feedback, and vigilance on the part of the teacher. Refrain from responding to "I need help", "I don't get this", or "This is too hard." Instead, prompt students to identify what they know and what they don't know, so they can recognize exactly what information or support they need and ask specific questions.
What to Modify
When possible, modify elements of the assignment that aren't directly related to its objective. This will preserve the authenticity of the assessment, while creating greater access for students. For example, it is common to assess reading standards with writing projects. However, requiring that students communicate their understanding of a text in writing assumes that students can express their thoughts fluently in writing. This may not be the case for all students, especially English Language Learners, and relying on writing to assess students' reading abilities dilutes assessment data. Modify the assignment by allowing students to choose how they'll demonstrate their understanding of the text. This variation doesn't impact the objective -- students still have to demonstrate text comprehension -- but it does support student engagement and can give teachers more accurate data about students' reading ability.


Divide a multi-step or multi-operational problem into discrete parts and have students focus on a single part in depth. This could involve solving the same problem in multiple ways, completing a written justification of the solution or explanation of the problem-solving steps, or becoming a "resident expert" on that problem type and serving as a resource for peers.
Rather than assigning a full essay or short story, focus writing instruction on particular organizational or process elements (e.g., conclusion statements, brainstorming character traits, revising word choice). Provide students with a foundational piece of writing to which they'll add the target element. For example, share an essay without transition sentences. Have students identify what is missing and revise to include the necessary transitions. Or share just the last paragraph of a narrative and have students fill in a story that builds to that conclusion.
When assigning a chapter book, audit the book's early chapters to determine if essential information from these chapters could be communicated via alternative means. Often the beginning chapters of youth and young adult fiction are devoted to establishing characters and setting. Experiment with summarizing these in non-text formats (e.g., story-telling, illustration, character family tree) to reduce students' reading load. Decreasing the number of pages students have to read can reduce fatigue (especially for slower readers and students reading behind grade level) and allows students to focus their best reading efforts and attention on the most essential sections of text.

Related Strategies