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Students with disabilities who are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) must receive a Summary of Performance document to assist with transitioning from high school to postsecondary programs and activities. It is required when a student:
The Summary of Performance indicates the student's academic achievement, functional skills and recommendations on how to reach postsecondary goals. It is completed during the last year the student is in high school and provides guidance so the student knows what accommodations and supports might be helpful in postsecondary settings.
Work with your school counselor to request accommodations such as extended time or small group testing for the ACT or SAT.
Many school districts provide their own transition and work study classes and programs for students on an IEP. Students practice skills for independent living while a work / study coordinator arranges for job experiences. Students can either continue to earn credits towards graduation through some of these programs or defer graduation and receive a diploma when the programs are completed. Some options are located outside of the public school:
When a student with a disability graduates from high school and enters a postsecondary school, such as a college or university, they are no longer covered by an IEP. Students lose the guarantee of a free appropriate public education. Eligible students are covered Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which prohibit discrimination on the basis of a disability. An individual with a disability is a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning or working. Almost every postsecondary school is subject to one or both of these laws. They must insure that their educational programs, extracurricular activities, buildings and housing are accesible to students with disabilities. However, unlike high school, postsecondary schools are only required to provide reasonable academic adjustments including accommodations and modifications.
Accommodations are approved on the basis of the student's disability and individual needs. Examples can include priority registration, reduced course load, note takers, recording devices, sign language interpreters, extended time for testing, modified teaching methods or adaptive software or hardware for school computers. The school is not required to lower the essential requirements of a class. For example, although the school may be required to provide extended testing time, it is not required to change the content of the test. In addition, the postsecondary school does not have to provide personal attendants, readers for personal use or study, or other devices or services of a personal nature, such as tutoring and typing.
Unlike the public school district, the postsecondary school is not required to identify students with disabilities and evaluate their needs. Students must inform the school that they have a disability and need assistance. Schools usually require documentation prepared by an appropriate professional, such as a physician or psychologist. The IEP or 504 Plan from high school may help identify services that have been helpful, but it is not considered to be sufficient documentation.
Almost every postsecondary school has a Disability Services Coordinator, Section 504 or ADA Coordinator. Students can contact this person with their concerns. The school must also have grievance procedures that provide for the prompt resolution of complaints. If the student is not satisfied, a complaint can be filed with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights.
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