THE STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT / THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK / ALBANY, NY 12234

 

TO:

The Honorable the Members of the Board of Regents

FROM:

Rebecca H. Cort

 

Johanna Duncan-Poitier

 

SUBJECT:

Postsecondary Education and Students with Disabilities

 

DATE:

November 11, 2005

 

STRATEGIC GOAL:

Goal 4

 

AUTHORIZATION(S):

 

 

Summary

 

Issue for Discussion

 

Update on access and success of students with disabilities in postsecondary education.

 

Proposed Handling

 

This item will come before the full Board for discussion at its December meeting.

 

Procedural History

 

††††††††† The Offices of Higher Education (OHE) and Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) reported on postsecondary education activities in June 2003 and continues to collaborate with the higher education sectors in advancing this initiative.In July 2003, leaders from SUNY, CUNY and Utica College met with the Board to discuss some of the initiatives that are under way to move the postsecondary education agenda forward and how the higher education community can work together for the benefit of students with disabilities.

 

Background Information

 

In January 2004, a joint work plan was developed by OHE and VESID with support from the higher education sectors that focused on several key strategies.The strategies focus on the legislative bill for the improvement of disability services and a joint advocacy plan; the students with disabilities initiative in the Statewide Plan for Higher Education; institution of higher education (IHE) faculty development; increased involvement of IHE disability service coordinators and transition coordination sites and the implementation of Chapter 219 (alternate format for college instructional materials).†††††

 

Recommendation

 

††††††††† Given the Regents interest in increasing the access and success of students with disabilities in postsecondary education, we seek your assistance on the key strategies identified in the report, particularly the Regents priority bill for the improvement of disability services in postsecondary education.

 

Timetable for Implementation

 

††††††††† N/A

 


Update on Access and Success of Students with Disabilities in Postsecondary Education

 

The New York State (NYS) Board of Regents, Commissioner of Education and the leadership of the four higher education sectors - the State University of New York (SUNY), The City University of New York (CUNY), the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities (cIcu) and the Association of Proprietary Colleges (APC) convened a Task Force on Postsecondary Education and Students with Disabilities to develop a report of recommendations to New York State for Strategies to Increase Access and Opportunity for individuals with disabilities in postsecondary education programs.The report was completed in 2000 and the goals were endorsed by the Board of Regents, the Commissioner and the leadership of all four higher education sectors.

 

From the Task Force recommendations, a joint work plan was developed by the State Education Departmentís Offices of Higher Education (OHE) and Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities (VESID) with support from the higher education sectors that focused on several key strategies.The strategies focus on the legislative bill for the improvement of disability services and a joint advocacy plan; institutions of higher education (IHE) master plans; IHE faculty development; increased involvement of IHE disability service coordinators and transition coordination sites and the implementation of Chapter 219 (alternate format for college instructional materials).†††††

 

Why This Initiative is Important

 

        In 2002-03, 69 percent of students with disabilities who completed secondary education earned either a Regents diploma, local diploma or high school equivalency diploma.

 

        Over 48 percent of NYS students with disabilities who complete high school are planning to pursue postsecondary education programs.

 

        The number of self-identified students with disabilities enrolling in higher education programs has increased by 52 percent (24,953 to 38,037) from 1993 to 2003. Yet, only about half of the colleges in the State have more than 60 students enrolled at their institutions. Many students with disabilities select colleges based upon the availability of support services as opposed to academic offerings.

 

        Studies have shown that the attainment of a postsecondary degree is positively related to median earnings and inversely related to unemployment.

 

Updates on Key Strategies

 

        Regents Priority Legislative Bill for the Improvement of Disability Services in Higher Education: The bill was introduced in the 2005 legislative session by Senator Morahan (S4136) and Assemblymember Paulin(A8292). It was reported out of the two Higher Education Committees into the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees.Department staff are working with the higher education sectors to target their advocacy efforts to these committees. The bill will establish a funding program for the improvement of disability services at institutions of higher education to do the following:provide base funding to increase enrollment of students with disabilities; support programmatic activities; and support recruitment of students with disabilities.

 

        Statewide Plan for Higher Education 2004-2012:The Board of Regents has identified a priority goal within the plan regarding students with disabilities.The Regents asked IHEs to focus on access and success for students with disabilities in their master plans.The plans from the four sectors were reviewed by the Department, and public comment sessions were held on the Tentative Statewide Plan. The Tentative Plan was revised, and the Regents adopted the Statewide Plan in June 2005.The Department is developing a schedule for implementation of the initiatives in response to each priority goal over the next seven years.Implementation may involve adoption, amendment, or repeal of regulations; adoption or modification of policies; proposed legislation; and budget proposals. In addition, the Department will continue its collaboration with the sectors as they implement their own long-range master plans.

 

        Chapter 219 Implementation:In 2003, New York State Education Law (Chapter 219, Section 715) was amended to require publishers and manufacturers of instructional material that is essential to a studentís success in a course of collegial study to make such material available in alternate format and in a timely manner.This law took effect in August 2004.†† A group of key stakeholders from across the State (i.e. college disability service and ADA/504 coordinators, publishers, college administrators and technology staff, and Department staff) contributed to a Department field memo outlining roles and responsibilities of stakeholders and formed a subcommittee to develop a training package on the implementation of the law.Two training sessions were conducted in June 2005; one upstate in Canandaigua with over 100 participants and one downstate with 110 participants. The training was intended for postsecondary disability service coordinators, campus policymakers, 504/ADA coordinators, technology staff and publishers.The support received from the key stakeholders for this initiative and response to the training sessions from disability service coordinators and transition coordination site directors has been very positive.The subcommittee will reconvene in early 2006 to determine the next steps.

 

        Higher Education Support Center (HESC): The HESC, a VESID project, was established at Syracuse University as an outgrowth of the NY Partnership for Statewide Systems Change. During the first years of the Partnership, the educational community realized that traditional teacher preparation programs had not fully prepared teachers for the challenges and opportunities of inclusive schools.In 1996, teacher educators from 19 colleges and universities in NYS formed the Task Force on Quality Inclusive Schooling.In 2001, the HESC was created to provide support and services to the Task Force as its members, now totaling 72 IHEs, committed themselves to the goals of quality teacher preparation and partnership in high need schools.

 

This initiative is also designed to prepare future teachers in teacher preparation programs to implement transition planning for secondary students with disabilities. Earlier this year, a leadership workgroup consisting of faculty members of IHEs, college disability service coordinators and transition coordination site (TCS) directors was convened to identify critical content and curriculum to be incorporated into courses taught at the preservice level.The curriculum will be disseminated to all 72 IHEs associated with the HESC with the goal of enhancing courses available at each institution.

 

        Reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA): Staff from VESID and OHE are working collaboratively developed language for the HEA amendment that will recognize the needs of students with disabilities in areas such as financial aid, academic support and teacher preparation and recruitment.†† Recommendations include enhancements to sections regarding Pell grants and TRIO programs, work-study programs, cost of attendance and family contribution.

 

Recommendations for Regents Activities

 

        Support a coordinated legislative advocacy effort to seek passage of the bill (S4136) and (A8292) to improve disability services at IHEs in NYS.

 

        Work with NYS Legislators to seek legislative and/or rule changes for the existing financial assistance program (TAP) to consider higher awards to defray the costs of services that students with disabilities need in order to participate fully in their postsecondary education studies.

 

        Support the recommendations in the HEA reauthorization, particularly those that seek the same financial changes on the federal level (i.e. Pell grants).

 

        Continue collaboration with the higher education to help implement the students with disabilities initiative in the Statewide Plan for Higher Education.