As of 2008, there were slightly over three million students diagnosed with learning disabilities enrolled in postsecondary education in the United States either in vocational and career schools or two and four year colleges and universities.
In the Bay Area, 15% of high school students have been diagnosed with a learning disability.
Our goal is to make the college transition easier for these students. To do this, we created a blog with contact information, student population numbers, resources, and software available for students with learning disabilities at four different colleges in the Bay Area: St. Mary’s College, University of San Francisco, College of San Mateo, and San Francisco State University. We intervied the director of each school’s disabilities department and toured their facilities. Finally, we offer a final analysis of what we think of each program; feel free to offer your own opinion on our blog.
The four schools were chosen in order to give examples of programs at varying levels of postsecondary education. We are looking to add more schools to our blog in the coming months, along with photos and possibly video tours of the different campus facilities.
This is a very important issue that is affecting many students and families. The national high school dropout rate in the United States as of 2005, the last year that the data was collected by the Department of Education, was 29%, an improvement of 5% since the beginning of the decade, according to the New York Times. The dropout rate for students with learning disabilities was 36% at that same point, though the Advocacy Institute claims the dropout rate for LD students is currently double that of students without. This is partly because high schools cannot help all LD students find a postsecondary school that meets their needs and partly because laws concerning students with disabilities change at the postsecondary level.
Throughout their academic careers, the 1973 Rehabilitation Act (Section 504) and 1990’s Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, both of which prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary level, protect these students.
These laws give rights to LD students in every school district and postsecondary school in the United States, but responsibilities change significantly at the postsecondary level in how those rights are addressed.
For example, in elementary and secondary education, a school district is required to offer a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students with learning disabilities within their district, meaning the district must identify needs on a case-by-case basis and provide aids and services necessary to meet those needs. In providing these aids and services, the school district must ensure that the needs of LD students are met as well as the needs of students without disabilities.
Postsecondary schools are not required to provide FAPE. They are only required to provide aid that is necessary to ensure they are not discriminating against LD students.
In fulfilling this requirement, postsecondary schools must similarly take into account individual needs.
Examples of services to attend to these needs are providing note takers, sign language interpreters, and priority registration. Postsecondary schools are not required to provide personal services or devices, such as tutoring and typing.
Because postsecondary schools are not required to provide as many resources for LD students as elementary and secondary schools, postsecondary education choices for LD students is even more narrow and limited. Our goal is to make the school selection process easier for LD students, their families, and high schools by having all of the information needed in a single location. If you would like us to add something to our blog, or find something that you think should be changed, feel free to let us know. We have provided a link to the blog below along with our own contact information.
Nicholas Mukhar: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nicholas Baradello: Nicholas.email@example.com
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