In a previous blog post, I discussed how the laws that govern accommodations/supports for students change with the transition from grade 12 to the next level of education. After grade 12, the purpose of accommodations is to provide equal access for students with a disability.
Some Individual Education Plans (IEP) in high school allow students to take multiple-choice exams that have fewer choices than the tests for other students. For example, on a Biology multiple-choice exam, the IEP could mandate that the student have three options to choose from, rather than the four options for the non IEP students. The IEP might allow for a retake of an exam for a failing grade or a grade below a “C.” Some students have a reduction in workload on a 504 plan or an IEP. Some students on IEPs are permitted to submit work in alternative formats, such as a video or class presentation, rather than a research paper. There might be forgiveness for spelling errors on class papers. Sometimes the due dates for work are extended for the high school student. Teachers might be required to provide their notes, in advance of the class, to the student on the IEP.
In college, all students complete the same work and take the same tests. Extra time to complete the test is a usual accommodation. It is the student’s responsibility to make those arrangements with Disability Services in advance of the exam. The exam may be digital, using speech-to-text, or text-to-speech technology or enlarged print, depending on the student’s disability, however, it will be the same Biology exam. If the student does poorly on an exam, there is no mandate to permit a repeat of the exam. When a student performs poorly, it would be their responsibility to speak with the professor for advice on how to prepare for the next exam or to seek tutoring.
Courses typically cannot be substituted in college. Majors have specific requirements, so in Nursing for example, all students complete the same course work. An exception might be given for Foreign Language requirements, depending on the student’s disability.
Spelling and grammar will count on papers written after high school. The student will need to seek editing help from Disability Services or from the “Writing Center” on campus. The paper is due on the same date as for the rest of the class. Students may work with their professor to turn in an early draft for critical comments; the final paper will still be due on the required date. In college, professors provide a syllabus at the beginning of the term. They do not issue constant reminders about when papers are due or dates of tests; that information is on the syllabus.
A note taker is a reasonable accommodation for a student with a Learning Disability. The student must let Disability Services know that they want a note taker for a particular class at the beginning of the semester. Disability Services would recruit and pay a student to take notes. If the notes are poor, then the student needs to work with Disability Services to find another note taker. Some professors post their PowerPoint presentation in advance of the class meeting on their website, available for all students. Some professors do not post that information, and some will not permit audio recording of their lectures. Staff from Disability Services may speak with the professor on behalf of a student with a disability, but they cannot force a professor to change how they conduct their class.
Priority registration is also a reasonable accommodation. Students can schedule courses for times when they are at their best and allow breaks to consolidate notes, exercise, take medication, attend appointments or have a snack.
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