Fire Away – ADA Questions

Before this collection, I hadn’t given much thought to a student with disabilities’ rights at a postsecondary institution. My knowledge of disability legislation was limited to its role in the PreK-12 world since that’s where I’m employed. I’ve seen all the accommodation notes on the course syllabi, and I guess I just assumed that the disability services from the secondary system extended to postsecondary as well. But this isn’t necessarily the case, even if some of the accommodations look familiar. I looked into this transition from high school to college a little further with these sites, Differences Between Secondary and Postsecondary Education and Students with Disabilities Preparing for Postsecondary Education, but I still have a couple questions:

  1. How, and how well, does this work? What kind of preventative measures are in place so that students with disabilities don’t fall between the cracks as they transition from high school to college? How do we go from IDEA where the parent is the most powerful advocate to the student stepping into that role? Who prepares them to self-advocate? What kinds of numbers do we see for ADA student retention rate at universities?
  2. Why does the definition of “unreasonable” change in this transition? Secondary teachers are often asked to modify the essential requirements/fundamental nature of a course for special education students, but postsecondary professor are not required to do the same. I can’t decide if I think this makes high school look like they are just trying to push kids through, or if it makes universities look like hard-asses. Is there more to this than just one is required and the other is voluntary? For some reason, this issue struck a nerve in me. What about when you’re teaching an AP class (or an actually college class) to high schoolers and they are earning college credit? They would still be covered under IDEA, but how much modification is permissable when successful completion of the course represents work done at an academically higher level?

My third question kind of bounces back to the end of my “Exploring the ADA” project. We can adequately provide for students with disabilities at the school I work at, but only to a certain extent. Students with severe disabilities are bussed to a larger school an hour away to receive the support they need. I ask a few other questions in my write up about balancing financial hardship of the district with the hardship endured by a student with disabilities having to commute outside of their community, but I realize that there are still resources available for those students, which certainly isn’t the case for most of Alaska.

      3. How do these disability rights laws work when it seems close to impossible           to support a student with severe disabilities in a rural/isolated location?                  How do village schools in Alaska support these students? Is there money                           specifically set aside to support necessary accommodations or new special                       education hires? Are students ever removed from their community because the                   school is unable to meet their educational needs?

One thought on “Fire Away – ADA Questions

  1. Your Question 2: Secondary teachers are often asked to modify the essential requirements/fundamental nature of a course for special education students, but postsecondary professor are not required to do the same.

    I am not sure I have the answer. Well, I am pretty positive I don’t 🙂 But after reading tons on the subject it seems to me it goes back to IDEA age requirements and the fact that most of the IDEA kids (lets be blunt here) do not make it to college. IDEA is definitely more strict then Section 504 and those two have specifically different agendas. 504 is broader and is targeted towards just access. IDEA is much narrower and is targeted towards student completion (the idealistic me almost said success).

    In my 10+ years of teaching in higher ed settings I only had 3 students with disabilities. Many higher ed instructors go through their entire careers never having a single student with disabilities. I am not sure it is because IDEA is not doing its job and you are absolutely right, maybe because they are just trying to push kids through. Or because there isn’t enough support on college level for those kids so they either drop out early or don’t go to college at all. One thing for sure though, it is not because universities are hard-asses. It is quiet the opposite — universities are not hard-asses enough about disabled student success and support.

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