The Transition from High School to College

IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are very different! For example, in high school, a student classified as learning disabled in a specific area (i.e., reading comprehension), may also receive special services in another area (i.e., math). In college, a student is only eligible to receive accommodations that are directly associated with the specific identified disability. In other words, accommodations listed in individual education plans (IEPs)developed at a high school are not binding on a college or university.

Differences Between High School and College
High School
  • Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
  • Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Civil Rights Restoration Act
Responsibilities of High Schools
  • Identify students with disabilities
  • Provide assessment of learning disabilities
  • Classify disabilities according to specified diagnostic categories
  • Involve parents or guardians in placement decisions
  • Provide certain nonacademic services
  • Place students in programs where they can benefit (in any way) by placement committee with parent participation and approval
  • Structure a large part of the student's weekly schedule
  • Modify educational programs
  • Prepare Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs)
  • Provide a free and appropriate education
  • Provide appropriate services by school nurse or health service
  • Section 504 of Rehabilitation Act of 1973
  • Americans with Disabilities Act
  • Civil Rights Restoration Act
Responsibilities of Colleges
  • Protect a student's right to privacy and confidentiality
  • Provide access to programs and services
  • Inform student of office location and procedures for requesting accommodations
  • Accept and evaluate verifying documentation
  • Determine (via documentation) that an impairment causes a substantial limitation on a major life activity
  • Determine for students who are otherwise qualified for participation in the program or service whether a reasonable accommodation is possible
  • Make reasonable accommodations for students who meet the above criteria
  • Provide reasonable access to program and service choices equal to those available to general public
  • Suggest reasonable adjustments in teaching methods that do not alter the essential content of a course or program
  • Assure that off-campus and contracted program facilities also comply with Section 504 (Subpart E) and ADA
  • Inform students of their rights and responsibilities
Colleges are not required to:
  • Reduce or waive any of the essential requirements of a course or program
  • Conduct testing and assessment of learning, psychological, or medical disabilities
  • Provide personal attendants
  • Provide personal or private tutors (but tutoring services normally available to persons without disabilities must be accessible to persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified for those services)
  • Prepare "Individual Education Plans" (IEPs)