High School vs. College Disability Services:
What’s the Difference?

  • Applicable Laws

    High School

    • IDEA
    • Section 504
    • Rehabilitation Act

    College / University

    • ADA
    • Section 504
    • Rehabilitation Act
  • Required Documentation

    High School

    • IEP (Individual Education Plan) and 504 Plan
    • School provides evaluation at no cost to student
    • School conducts evaluations at prescribed intervals

    College / University

    • Varies depending on the disability. IEP and 504 are not sufficient, must include the testing on which the accommodations are based
    • Student must get evaluation at own expense
    • Student generally not required to be retested after initial documentation approved
  • Student Role

    High School

    • Student is identified and supported by parents/teachers
    • Primary responsibility for accommodations belongs to the school

    College / University

    • Student must self-identify to the ADA counselor
    • Primary responsibility for accommodation requests belongs to the student
  • Parental Role

    High School

    • Parents have access to student records and participate in the accommodation process
    • Parents advocate for students

    College / University

    • Parents do not have access to disability-related records unless student provides written consent
    • Students advocate for themselves
  • Teachers/Professors

    High School

    • May modify curriculum and/or alter pace of assignments
    • Use multisensory approach
    • Weekly testing, mid-term, final, and graded assignments
    • Attendance taken and reported

    College / University

    • Not required to modify curriculum
    • Tend to rely on lecture; may or may not use multisensory approach
    • Testing and assignment frequency vary
    • Attendance often not taken; student is responsible for attending class
  • Grades

    High School

    • Grades may be modified based on curriculum

    College / University

    • Grades reflect the quality of work submitted

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