Samford University

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Differences between high school and college

An important issue for potential and current college students with disabilities is to understand the differences between the application of disability rights laws in secondary and post-secondary institutions. The most basic distinction between services for students with disabilities in high school and college is secondary settings are geared towards least restrictive settings whereas post-secondary institutions are obligated to provide access. In other words more responsibility is placed on student initiative in higher education.

A student’s responsibilities dramatically increase as they move from secondary to postsecondary education. The chart below illustrates differences between secondary and post-secondary obligations of students with accommodation requests.

COMPARISON OF RESPONSIBILITIES IN HIGH SCHOOL UNDER P.L. 94-142/IDEA/504 AND IN COLLEGE UNDER SECTION 504 AND ADA

Legal

High School College
Services provided under IDEA or Section 504 Services provided under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and The Americans with Disabilities Act
School district responsible for identifying and evaluating disability at no cost to student or family Student must self identify and provide documentation of disability

 Academic Environment

 

High School     College
Special education teacher liaison and buffer between student, other teachers, administrators, and parents  - Student responsible for self advocacy
The decision to receive accommodations is made by educators and parents. Students have little or no choice  - Student can choose not to seek services and accommodations and can choose to function independently
- Student must self identify disability and request services from college
- Student required to provide recent documentation (less than 3 years old) of disability
- Documentation must clearly support requested accommodations
Help readily available  - Student must independently seek help using effective communication skills
- Services must be requested well in advance (i.e., you cannot wait until day of test to ask for accommodations)
 Student “labeled” as special education student  - Student not “labeled” or served separately from other students
 Student possibly served separately from other students - Other students and faculty will not know about student’s disability
- Faculty only notified of required accommodations
 Personnel talk freely with parent about student progress and planning - Personnel cannot discuss student without student’s written permission

 

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