Massachusetts HD 3072 and SD 1763 (2021)
AN ACT to create higher education opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities.
House Concurred: March 29, 2021
This legislation creates changes to higher education requirements for students with intellectual disabilities, autism, and other developmental disabilities in many ways.
The bill establishes that individuals with “severe intellectual disabilities, severe autism spectrum disorders, or other severe developmental disabilities” do not have to do the following in order to participate in undergraduate academic courses, internships, work-based trainings, inclusive extracurricular activities, and all other aspects of campus life:
· Take a standardized college entrance aptitude test
· Have a high school diploma or its equivalent
· Meet minimum academic course requirements
· Meet minimum GPA requirements
· Obtain a passing score on statewide assessment tests utilized as a basis for competency determination
The bill also classifies higher education for students with IEPs ages 18-21 as secondary school, and makes their participation in public higher education an approved expense as a special education service. Higher education institutions are not required to bear the costs of individual supports and services beyond those provided generally to students with disabilities.
The bill also establishes the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative, a discretionary grant program that funds transition partnerships between school committees and public higher education institutions. These help students with severe intellectual disabilities, severe autism spectrum disorders and other severe developmental disabilities progress from school to competitive employment through higher education. Partnerships that receive grant funding must create inclusive programs that provide credit-bearing and non-credit classes, on-campus living, extracurricular activities, and extensive support with all aspects of transition to competitive employment, including job coaching, guidance, internships, skill development, person-centered planning, and preparation for independent living. They must also train the schools’ and institutions’ teachers, faculty, and other personnel on how to support and achieve inclusion of students with ID, ASD, and other severe DD. Partnerships must also provide a waiver of tuition for higher education courses.
The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative will be overseen by a board of representatives from state agencies, school committees, the Institute on Community Inclusion, and at least 2 representatives of school districts and public higher education institutions that have implemented inclusive concurrent enrollment initiatives successfully before.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Education will submit an annual report on the initiative to the Massachusetts General Court’s Joint Committees on Education and Higher Education, as well as the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means.