Accommodations for High School Students in Advanced Placement (AP) Classes

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Can my high school student with a learning disability take an AP class? The school told us AP classes were not for kids with LD.

This is discrimination that is actionable under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

Read for yourself what “The Commentary” says in the Federal Register of August 14, 2006, at page 46668.

Beginning not later than
the first IEP to be in effect when the
child turns 16 years of age, section
614(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII)(aa) of the Act
requires a child’s IEP to include
measurable postsecondary goals in the
areas of training, education, and
employment, and, where appropriate,
independent living skills.

Section 300.320(b)(2)
includes a reference to ‘‘courses of
study’’ [ (such as participation in
advanced-placement course or a
vocational education program) ] as part of transition services,
consistent with section
614(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII)(bb) of the Act. ……

The US Department of Education assumed that a child planning to go to college may well be taking AP classes.

If the school allows my child to take an AP class, is he also allowed to have accommodations?

Of course. Failure to do so, again, is a violation of Section 504.

More Resources

College: Continuing and Higher Education

Prohibition Against Disability-Based Discrimination

School Says, “No Advanced Classes for Kids with IEPs”

Why College is Daunting for Kids with LD

Transition, Transition Services, and Transition Planning


  1. As a high school teacher with students with the most severe disabilities that are FORCED into AP classes, when they score below A kindergarten level, are non-verbaL, cannot write their name, and do not work well independently on a computer to do research, I say that those AP classes are NOT LRE and those students should be placed in regular ed and alternate standard classrooms (per IEP/504) where they can learn many more life, social, vocational, and independent skills that will have a direct effect on their quality of life.

  2. At first my child’s school said that modifications are not allowed for 504 plans, only IEPs. And then while accommodations are okay, modifications are *not* allowed for AP classes. The modification for an AP class is taking the regular classes. I’ve also been arguing with the school about the fact that if they reduce a class’ workload without changing the standards being taught that they can be considered an accommodation. They are telling me that it’s a modification. Does all of this sound about right?

  3. I am a bit confused. why would a kid who is smart enough to take an AP class require accommodations. Shouldn’t accommodations be provided for those who struggle with education?

    • Yes, but “struggle with education” comes in different forms for different people.(deaf, visually impaired, dyslexic) The ADA law says that all people are to have equal access to what “normal” people have access to. So if I can perform in an accelerated class with text to voice, braille, or more time, then I am to get that.

    • Because having the intellectual ability to master a subject is different from having the mechanics to successfully complete coursework. A child might be an expert on the minutiae of Elizabethan England but be unable to turn in their homework because they lost it by the time their class started or they have lost their pencil and paper or forgot to write down the assignment or wrote down the assignment but lost that before they got home.

  4. It is my understanding, if your child’s performance is NOT hindered by their disability, they may not qualify for services, even if they have one of the thirteen disabilities. So, my question is, if a student can successfully complete the rigor required in AP classes, as a student with a LD, I’m assuming their is no educational need for services. Is this correct or incorrect?
    Thank you.

  5. Whoever told you that is demonstrating that they do not understand what a learning disability is. If it is in a meeting, and the attitude persists, perhaps turning things around on them, and asking them to define what your student’s issues are, what they represent, your student’s strengths and weaknesses. The school personnel are definitely showing a lack of understanding of learning disabilities as technical difficulties in acquiring, processing, or output of information. There are many LD students that are also gifted. It is now referred to frequently as twice exceptional. It is disheartening to see this kind of attitude remaining decades after it should have been gone. Best of luck to you, and hold to it, get your student in the level his academic abilities indicate.

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