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Improving Access to Education for LD Students

Friday, December 01, 2017

It may be just a matter of time before college-bound students with documented learning differences and their parents finally have a voice.

Currently, there is proposed legislation via the RISE Act (Respond, Innovate, Succeed and Empower) that aims to remove barriers to education for special needs students both when applying to college as well as once enrolled and attending classes.  The broader objectives of RISE include easing transition to college, supporting academic success, as well as improving graduation rates for students with learning differences.  

Studies indicate that LD or special needs students face continued obstacles at the time of college application as well as once they are matriculated.  High school students with 504 plans or IEPs are currently required by most colleges to update their testing in order to be eligible for campus accommodations.  Whether families attain evaluations through their child's school system or through a private source, such requirement by a college or university for updated testing brings a financial and logistical burden for many.  

Beyond documentation requirements, LD students may face challenges in seeking accommodations once on campus, an effort complicated by a lack of understanding or awareness on the part of faculty. RISE aims to develop broader awareness about learning differences and the accommodations that students may rightfully seek.  There is also focus on providing more transparent information to families about the availability of services and other resources for special needs students on individual college campuses.

As of this writing, the RISE Act is under bi-partisan review.  For more information on this progressive pending legislation and how it may affect students, please click here.

Marla Platt, M.B.A. is an independent college consultant based in Sudbury, MA through AchieveCoach College Consulting, providing personalized guidance to students and families throughout the college planning, search and admissions process. Marla is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and can be reached via

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