Senator Hosts Discussion: Barriers, Opportunities Impacting Student Success in College

Written by NCLD Policy Team | 3 years ago

It’s no secret that students with learning and attention issues can succeed – including in college – when provided with the right accommodations and supports. But far too few of them enroll in and finish college-level programs.

For Senator Casey (D-PA), the needs of students with disabilities and their families has been a long time priority. Senator Casey was a champion for the community during Congress’s rewrite of NCLB/ESEA. As Congress wrote the Every Student Succeeds Act (which was signed into law in December 2015) he led the effort to make sure students with disabilities were kept on track to earn a regular high school diploma.

But we know that graduating from high school is not enough. Students with learning and attention issues can do so much more. As we strive to increase the numbers of students with disabilities who are not only enrolling but succeeding in college, Senator Casey is working alongside the community and is turning his attention to this important issue.

On April 11th, NCLD joined with Senator Casey to host a roundtable discussion.  This was an opportunity to hear directly from college students through the Eye to Eye program, parents from across the state of Pennsylvania, a higher education professional from Temple University, and dedicated advocates within the community. The group spoke about the challenges students with disabilities face when applying to and succeeding once enrolled in college.

Every person in the room had their own, unique story to share, each filled with challenges and triumphs, concern and hope.

But everyone had one thing in common: a vision for the future where students with learning and attention issues could easily receive the help they need to succeed in college.

What resulted was a deep and thoughtful conversation about how this change is possible – how colleges can become more welcoming and knowledgeable about the needs of students with varied learning styles and how students can become stronger self-advocates in their transition to college.

For students with learning and attention issues, few issues are more important than access to and success in college.  Young adults with LD attend four-year colleges at half the rate of the general population. Once there, only 17% of students with LD receive the accommodations and supports they need. And in the end, only 41% of students with learning disabilities will complete college.

We can and should do better for our students, because we know they can achieve higher.

As Senator Casey summed up well in a Senate hearing earlier this week, “Parents and advocates have taught us that students with disabilities have a lot of ability, we’ve just got to give them the tools and resources to succeed.”

We couldn’t agree more.


Photos from the 4/11/16 event:

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