Shortened Class Assignments

The Strategy

Shortened assignments is a strategy in which teachers give the student a shorter assignment than other students. Shortening classroom assignments is a way to reduce the impairment experienced by a student with academic and behavioral difficulties. In theory, by shortening the assignment, the student will be able to be more attentive to the content that is presented and complete the assignment with higher quality. Although this strategy may lead to higher rates of classwork completion, it will not provide the student with skills that allow them to meet typical classroom expectations. Thus, this strategy should be used in conjunction with other strategies (note taking intervention; self-monitoring; daily report card; student choice) that facilitate skill development. 

  1. Identify assignment types or content areas that are particularly difficult for the student. For example, consider assignments that tend to lead to frustration or restlessness after a period of time.
  2. Discuss these impairments with the student’s educational and mental health support team to identify a reasonable expectation of assignment completion for this student (e.g., complete 75% of assigned worksheets; write at least 3 sentences when the rest of the class is expected to write 5).
  3. Describe the modification and its purpose to the student (if appropriate based on development) and the student’s parents. Be clear about which assignments this reduction will be applied to and create a plan for communicating this with the parent and student on a consistent basis.
  4. Use Beacon progress monitoring tools to evaluate the extent to which this strategy is improving the target behaviors as intended.

  • Expectations for classwork completion should be clear and enforced. Make sure that the student knows exactly what is expected of them to receive credit for assignment completion each day.
  • Remind students privately about their expectations for work completion and the timeline for doing so after providing the whole class instruction.
  • Consider using this strategy as a short-term solution. To help the student meet age-appropriate expectations with regard to exams, gradually decrease the modifications given. See note taking intervention; self-monitoring; daily report card; student choice for details.

Because shortening class assignments does not effectively build the skills students need to independently meet age-appropriate expectations, it cannot be evaluated for effectiveness. The goal of shortened assignments is to ensure a student completes assignments in order to pass a course. As passing a course is much less of a priority than learning, we recommend that services such as modifying grades not be considered. Instead, the focus should be on interventions directed at improving students’ ability to independently meet age-appropriate learning expectations.

Intervention Scorecard

This intervention is recommended for the following presenting problems.

Select an age group:


Other suitable presenting problems