Education inequity impacts students with learning disabilities

One of the many effects that comes with education inequity is the impact on students with learning disabilities.

Created by: Dylan Ashcraft

equal access for students with learning disabilities

Across the world, about 93 million children are living with disabilities. Children with disabilities, whether physical, learning, or mental, should receive school accommodations to help the child reach their highest potential. Many times, families will move their children from public schools to specialized schools to receive the appropriate education programs. Under American federal regulation Section 504, it is required that school districts provide students with disabilities with education services that are appropriate for their needs.  Section 504 states, “No otherwise qualified individual with handicaps in the United States… shall, solely by reason of her or his handicap, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal finance assistance…”

Why 504 Plans are Essential for Children with Disabilities:

According to, 504 plans are developed to give children with disabilities the support they need. Students ages 3 to 22 can be protected under the 504 plans.  Covered under a 504 plan, students can receive extended time on tests or assignments or take breaks during class without being penalized. These plans, covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (1973), try to eliminate any obstacles for a student with a disability.  To test a child, the school district where the student is enrolled must have a reason to believe that the child is in need of accommodations and services under Section 504.

Some accommodations that are available but are not limited to are:

  • Highlighted textbooks
  • Extended time on tests or assignments
  • Peer assistance with note taking
  • Frequent feedback
  • Extra set of textbooks for home use
  • Computer aided instruction
  • Enlarged print
  • Positive reinforcement 
  • Behavior intervention plans
  • Rearranging class schedules
  • Visual aids
  • Preferred seating assignments
  • Taping lectures
  • Oral tests
  • Individual contracts

Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are covered under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  For a family to obtain an IEP for their child, the child must be tested for a learning disability, ADHD, autism or others.  In an IEP, families can ask their school district to pay for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE). With IEPs, a team of people must be aware of the measures being taken: the child’s guardians, at least one of the child’s general education teachers, the school psychologist and a district representative. An IEP also tracks a student on their academic and functional performance with daily goals about how to stay on track. With IEPs, a child is required to be tested every three years to determine if the services granted are still needed.  

In various occasions, if the guardians do not agree with the school's evaluation of any type, the school is not required to pay for an independent evaluation.  If the guardian, for any reason, disagrees with the developed evaluation, they can move forward with due process hearing where the case is brought to the board and is seen by higher ups.  

These regulations were put in place to help achieve education equity for all students.  Without these laws and procedures, many students could be pushed through the system or even left behind.  The goal is to provide  students with the opportunity to be more successful in school.

Written by: Michelle Guerin

why accommodations are essential for student success

For students who are required to have accommodations, it is important for teachers and instructors to follow the protocol of a student's needs. Whether it’s more attention or extra time on tests, a student's success can rely on their established accommodations.

Produced by: Michelle Guerin
Edited by: Alex Maiorana

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