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After School: Entering The Unknown For Students With Disabilities

The following article was published, originally, in Education Week. We encourage you to read the full article Are High School Students With Disabilities Prepared for Life After School? We encourage conversation about this ever-important topic and have provided our thoughts below the snippet of the original article.

Are High School Students With Disabilities Prepared for Life After School?

A new, two-volume report exploring the experiences of students with disabilities was released today, and there’s enough information here to keep special educators reading for a long time.

The reports compile information from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012, which is explored the characteristics and experiences of a representative sample of nearly 13,000 students, most of who have individualized education programs. The students, ages 13 to 21, and their families were surveyed in 2012 and 2013. Mathematica Policy Research and the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota led the investigation.

Volume 1 of the report compares students with disabilities to their typically developing peers. Among the findings:

  • Youth with an IEP are more likely than their peers to be socioeconomically disadvantaged and to face problems with health, communication, and completing typical tasks independently. However, a deeper dive into the numbers is instructive: Students with intellectual disabilities and emotional disturbances are more socioeconomically disadvantaged and are more likely to attend a lower-performing school than youth with an IEP overall. For youth with autism or a speech and language impairment, it’s the opposite: Those students tend to be more financially well-off and to attend higher-performing schools than their peers with IEPs overall.
  • Good news: The vast majority of youth with and without an IEP feel positive about school. Bad news: those with an IEP experience bullying and suspension at higher rates, and are less engaged in school and social activities.
  • A worrisome finding: Youth with an IEP are more likely than other youth to struggle academically, yet less likely to receive some forms of school-based support.

Continue reading to find out the results of Volume 2

In Response to Christina Samuels Article –

There’s good news and bad (but not unexpected) news in a just released report on how students with disabilities do after their school years are over.  The good news is that the study was conducted.  Concerns for students leaving special education and entering ”real life” are deep and justified on the part of parents and special educators as well.  Far too many of these young adults “fall off the cliff” in terms of continuing vocational supports and structures that allow them to move toward independence.  The report  is large in scope, 13,000 students, and longitudinal in nature.

It indicates that students with IEPs are more likely to be socioeconomically disadvantaged, face more challenges transitioning from high school, and are less likely to experience characteristics linked to success like getting together with friends regularly, participating in a club or sport, or having a paid job.  In How Autism Is Reshaping Special Education,  Mark Claypool and I suggest that special education services be continued until age 25 for students with more severe disabilities who need additional time and support to make the transition to adult life and independent living.  Results from this study align to our recommendation.


Check out my thoughts on The Role Of Academic Rigor Within Special Needs Education

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