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Differences between High School and College

An important issue for potential and current students with disabilities is to understand the difference between disability rights laws in high school and college. In college, more responsibility is placed on the student.

Applicable Laws
HIGH SCHOOL COLLEGE
I.D.E.A. (individuals with Disabilities Education Act) A.D.A. (Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990)
Section 504, Rehabilitation  Act of 1973 Section 504, Rehabilitation Act of 1973
I.D.E.A. is about SUCCESS A.D.A. is about ACCESS
Required Documentation

HIGH SCHOOL

COLLEGE

I.E.P. (Individualized Education Plan and/or 504 Plan)

High School I.E.P. and 504 are not sufficient. Documentation guidelines specify information needed for each category of disability.

School provides evaluation at no cost to the student.

Student must get evaluation at own expense.

Documentation focuses on determining whether student is eligible for services based on specific disability categories in I.D.E.A.

Documentation must provide information on specific functional limitations, and demonstrate the need for specific accommodations.

Self-Advocacy

HIGH SCHOOL

COLLEGE

Student is identified by the school and is supported by parents and teachers.

Student must self-identify to the Disability Resources Office.

Primary responsibility for arranging accommodations belongs to the school.

Primary responsibility for self-advocacy and arranging accommodations belongs to the student.

Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance.

Professors are usually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.

Parental Role

HIGH SCHOOL

COLLEGE

Parent has access of student records and can participate in the accommodation process.

Parent does not have access to student records without student’s written consent.

Parents advocates for student.

Student advocates for self.

Instruction

HIGH SCHOOL

COLLEGE

Teachers may modify curriculum and/or alter pace of assignments.

Professors are not required to modify curriculum design or alter assignment deadlines.

You are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught, in class.

You are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class.

You seldom need to read anything more than once, and sometimes listening in class is enough.

You need to review class notes and text materials regularly.

Teachers remind you of your incomplete work of assignments.

Professors typically do not alter assignment deadlines or remind you of incomplete work.

Teachers provide you with information you missed when you were absent.

Professors expect you to get any notes (from classes) you missed from classmates.

Teachers approach you if they believe you need assistance.

Professors are unusually open and helpful, but most expect you to initiate contact if you need assistance.

Grades and Tests

HIGH SCHOOL

COLLEGE

I.E.P. or 504 plan may include modifications to test format and/or grading. 

Grading and test format changes (i.e. multiple choice vs. essay) are generally not available. Accommodations on HOW tests are given (extended time, test proctors) are available when supported by disability documentation.

Testing is frequent and covers small amounts of material  

Testing is usually infrequent and may be cumulative, covering large amounts of material.  

Makeup tests are often available

Makeup tests are seldom an option; if they are, you need to request them.

Teachers often take time to remind you of assignments and due dates.

Professors expect you to read, save, and consult the course syllabus (outline); the syllabus spells out exactly what is expected of you, when it is due and how you will be graded.

You may graduate as long as you have passed all required courses with a grade of D or higher.

You may graduate only if your average in classes meets the departmental standard.

Teachers frequently conduct review sessions, pointing out the most important concepts.  

Professors rarely offer review sessions, and when they do, they expect you to be an active participant, one who comes prepared with questions.  

Consistently good homework grades may raise your overall grade when testing grades are low.

Grades on tests and major papers usually provide most of the course grade. 

Study Responsibilities

HIGH SCHOOL

COLLEGE

Tutoring and study support may be a service provided as part of an I.E.P. of 504 plan. 

Tutoring DOES NOT fall under Disability Services. Students with disabilities must seek out tutoring resources as they are available to all students.

Your time and assignments are structured by others. 

You manage your own time and complete assignments independently. 

You may study outside of class as little as 0 to 2 hours a week, and this may be mostly las-minute test preparations. 

You need to study at least 2 to 3 hours outside of class for each hour in class. 

Personal services for medical/physical disabilities are required. 

No personal services are required.

Students are expected to read short assignments that are then discussed, and often re-taught in class. 

Students are assigned substantial amounts of reading and writing which may not be directly addressed in class. 

Students are not responsible for knowing what is required to graduate or tracking their own progress. 

Students are expected to select their own majors and/or minors and are expected to learn the graduation requirements for their program of study.