North Branford Public Schools
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Transition From High School to College

Differences
In high school, the school has responsibilities which include the following:

  • Provide assessment of students with disabilities
  • Identify students with disabilities
  • Classify disabilities according to specified diagnostic categories
  • Provide a free and appropriate education
  • Develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs)
  • Involve parents or guardians in educational decisions
  • Place students in appropriate programs where they receive educational benefit with parent participation and approval in the planning and placement team (PPT) process
  • Provide related services (i.e., speech, OT/PT, school nurse or health service)
  • Modify educational program as appropriate

The post-secondary level institutional role changes as follows:

  • Accept and evaluate verifying documentation
  • Determine that a mental or physical impairment causes a substantial limitation of a major life activity based on student-provided verifying documents
  • Determine whether students are otherwise qualified for participation in the program or service, with or without accommodations, and if so, whether a reasonable accommodation is possible
  • Inform students of office location and procedures for requesting accommodations
  • Inform students of their rights and responsibilities
  • Make reasonable accommodations for students who meet the above qualifying criteria
  • Provide access to programs and services which are offered to persons without disabilities
  • Provide reasonable access to program and service choices equal to those available to the general public
  • Make reasonable adjustments in teaching methods which do not alter the essential content of a course or program
  • Assure that off-campus and contracted program facilities also comply with Section 504 and ADA

(Other differences may exist for post-secondary institutions which provide housing programs, health services, psychological counseling services, and extensive international programs.)

In contrast to their K-12 educational experience where many responsibilities were assumed by the school, student responsibilities at the post-secondary level change as follows:

Students have a responsibility to:

  • Self-identify or disclose their disability to the designated office for disability services
  • Provide verifying documentation to that designated office
  • Obtain assessment and test results and provide them to that office
  • Act as independent adults
  • Arrange their own weekly schedules
  • Contact their instructors to activate and adopt accommodations for each class
  • Arrange for and obtain their own personal attendants, tutoring and individually fitted or designed assistive technologies

Post-secondary institutions 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)

Remember Privacy Issues:  Students in colleges and universities are considered adults, with privacy and confidentiality protections. College staff cannot talk with parents and guardians about a student’s academic activities as was typical in K-12.

Special education services in high school are based on a student’s eligibility under one of the thirteen disability categories (i.e., specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairment).

Eligibility for reasonable accommodations in post-secondary institutions while also requiring a diagnosis is more importantly driven by the severity of the impact on a major life activity.  This is why documentation for a post-secondary institution has to provide more information than just a diagnosis and must address the issue of severity of impact. 

Documentation requirements may vary from institution to institution.  Each institution has the right to establish its own guidelines for documentation requirements.  Students will need to speak to each institution regarding their documentation requirements.

College students must structure and plan their own study time; colleges do not arrange study periods or provide time to do homework during classes.

Professors and classes may differ regarding attendance requirements, scheduling assignment due dates and exams.  The student must study each professor’s syllabus for each class.  Attendance may be considered an essential requirement of some courses and therefore not be subject to waiver or reduction.

Students with disabilities must take the initiative to identify themselves as a person with a disability.  They must take specific action to request those accommodations for their disabilities and must provide verifying documentation such as psycho-educational test results, medical documents and doctor’s statements.  The documentation must verify the disability, describe the extent/severity of the impairment and provide information regarding the functional impact of the disability, which supports the need for a specific accommodation.

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