• High School VS. College

    Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA)

    The ADA is a federal civil rights law designed to provide equal opportunity for people with disabilities. While legislation for K-12 persons with disabilities is focused on student success, the ADA, as it applies to the college environment, is focused on making sure that students with disabilities have access to the various programs, services and activities of the university. That is not to say that colleges are not interested in student success, and most provide a wide array of academic support services that are designed to help all students perform at their highest level. It does mean that the federal laws that may have required certain accommodations in K-12 are different than the ones for colleges and universities.

    Section 504

    Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 is a law that protects students from discrimination based on their disabilities. Subpart D of the act applies to grades K-12, and Subpart E applies to postsecondary institutions. A 504 Plan is developed when a K-12 student needs certain accommodations and modifications to either the physical space in the school or the learning environment. However, a 504 Plan indicates that there is no need for special edu- cation (if there were a need for special education, the student would have been given an IEP as discussed above).

    It is very important to understand that IEPs and 504 Plans do not suffice as adequate documentation to accompany a student to a postsecondary institu- tion since both are required under laws that do not apply once the student attends college. Although students are covered under Section 504 once they get to college, it is a different subpart, as noted above. While IEPs and 504 Plans are sometimes helpful to colleges in determining appropriate reasonable accommodations, they are insufficient as the sole forms of documentation of a disability.

    Topic High School College
    Applicable Laws
    • IDEA
    • SECTION 504 (D)
    • Rehabilitation Act
     
    • ADA (ADAAA)
    • Section 504 (E)
    • Rehabilitation Act
     
    Required Documentation
    • Individual Education Plan
    • School provided evaluation at no cost to the student
    • School conducts evaluations at prescribed intervals
     
    • Varies depending on the disability
    • IEP & 504 Plans are not sufficient; must include the testing on which the requested accommodations are based
    • Student must get evaluation at own expense
    • Student generally not required to be re-tested after initial documentation approval unless additional accommodations warrant more documentation
     
    Student Role
    • Student is identified and supported by parents/teachers
    • Primary responsibility for accommodations belongs to the school
     
    • Student must self-identify at designated office
    • Primary responsibility for accommodations belongs to the student
     
    Parent Role
    • Parent has access to student’s records and participates in accommodation process
    • Parent advocates for the student
     
    • Parent does not have access to disability- related records (unless student provides written consent)
    • Student self-advocates
     
    Curriculum & Instruction
    • Many schools modify curriculum and/or alter pace of assignments
    • Use multi-sensory approach
    • Weekly testing, mid-term, final, and graded assignments
    • Attendance taken and reported
     
    • Not required to modify curriculum
    • Tend to rely on lecture; May or may not use a multi-sensory approach
    • Student is responsible for attending class
     
    Grades
    • Some schools modify tests
    • Grades may be modified based on the quality of the curriculum
     
    • Grades reflect the work submitted
     
  • A Princeton Review Best Western College  
  • Council for Christian Colleges & Universities  
  • Center for Student Opportunity: Promoting a College-Bound Culture  
  • US News Best Colleges  
  • The Chronicle on Higher Education, Great Colleges to Work For: 2014  
  • Military Friendly  
  • Colleges of Distinction  
  • University and College Accountability Network