Special Ed & Disability Services in Post-Secondary Education

college students doing classwork together

As you begin your college journey, you may hear people talking about “post-secondary education.” This term may be unfamiliar to you because it is used mostly in an academic setting. It refers to college- or university-level coursework. Secondary education is what we, in the United States, consider high school. Therefore, post-secondary education is coursework that comes after graduating from high school.

The people most interested in the difference between secondary and post-secondary education are those pursuing an education degree. Future teachers and professors need to know what type of education degree or academic track to follow in order to reach their goals.

Teachers who want to teach at the high school level need a certain skillset, while those who work in a post-secondary environment need an additional set of tools and knowledge. This knowledge is especially important when learning how to work with students with disabilities. Let's find out more about what education degree majors need to know about students with disabilities at secondary and post-secondary education.

Secondary Education

Secondary education refers to high school level. Special education at this level is governed by federal education laws, meaning that section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are all applicable.

Public high schools must ensure that all eligible students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate education. This means that special education and related services are provided by the school. In addition, students with disabilities may not be discriminated against or excluded from any program activity at the high school level.

All students with disabilities are eligible from birth through age 21 to receive special education services up to and through secondary education. The high schools are responsible for providing students with disabilities with trained professionals and educated teachers who can meet the learning needs of the student. In addition, the school must provide other services that the high school student may need, such as occupational therapy and counseling.

Post-Secondary Education

The Americans with Disabilities Act, as well as Section 504 apply at the college and university level. The goal at the post-secondary level is to ensure that any student with a disability has access to education at and is not discriminated against by the institution.

Any student who is eligible to apply to and be accepted to college and can document the needs related to their disability can have those needs met at the post-secondary level. Students are responsible for providing that disability documentation and presenting it to their university.

Colleges and universities have disability services departments that work with students with disabilities in order to ensure that they receive the required accommodations. The students are responsible for connecting with disability services, providing the documentation and working with staff to ensure that the accommodations make the educational programs accessible.

If you are considering teaching at the secondary or post-secondary level, you will likely come across students who have exceptional needs. When you earn your Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies, you will learn about how to work with all types of students. Join the secondary education degree program at Grand Canyon University to begin your career path toward becoming a teacher or professor who makes a difference in students’ lives.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.