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Results of Study Examining Post-High School Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

  • Published: 2010-11-30 : Author: SRI International
  • Synopsis: Students with disabilities are attending college in greater numbers and are more engaged in their communities.

Main Document

SRI International Announces Results of Study Examining Post-High School Outcomes for Students With Disabilities.

Students with disabilities are attending college in greater numbers and are more engaged in their communities, according to a new SRI International study that focused on outcomes for students in 1990 and 2005.

The study findings were released by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Special Education Research in a new report, Comparisons Across Time of the Outcomes of Youth With Disabilities up to 4 Years After High School. A Report of Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS) and the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), and provides data on a wide range of post-high school outcomes for young adults with disabilities, ages 18 to 21, who had been out of high school up to four years.

The outcomes cover several key areas, including postsecondary education enrollment and educational experiences, social and community involvement, employment status and financial independence. The disabilities of the young adults in the study included speech and language impairment, hearing impairment, visual impairment, orthopedic impairment, learning disability, mental retardation, emotional disturbances and other health impairments, including autism.

Postsecondary enrollment rates were significantly higher in 2005 than in 1990 for young adults with disabilities. Within four years of leaving high school, 46 percent of young adults in 2005 were reported to have enrolled in a postsecondary school versus 26 percent in 1990. The gains spanned across a broad range of postsecondary programs: an 18 percentage-point increase in community colleges, a 13 percentage-point increase, in postsecondary vocational, business, or technical schools and a 9 percentage-point difference in four-year universities.

Despite the increases for young adults with disabilities on the postsecondary education front, in 2005 they remained less likely than their peers in the general population to have been enrolled in postsecondary education. Sixty-three percent of young adults in the general population had attended college or a postsecondary vocational/technical school in 2005.

In addition to their postsecondary experiences, youth with disabilities participated in volunteer or community service in far greater numbers the participation rate almost doubled, from 13 percent in 1990 to 25 percent in 2005.

In areas related to financial independence and employment, the students were more likely to have a savings account in 2005 (56 percent) than in 1990 (44 percent). However, students with disabilities as a whole did not vary significantly in their reported employment status; 62 percent were employed in 1990 compared to 56 percent in 2005.

"The results reflect improvements in secondary education for students with disabilities over the past two decades," said Lynn Newman, Ed.D., a senior education researcher at SRI and project director for the study. "In general, high schools are providing more support and enhanced educational programs for students with disabilities and students are increasingly taking rigorous academic courses in high school, which better prepare them for postsecondary education."

Newman also pointed to broader societal trends that influence opportunities for students with disabilities. "Schools and parents are encouraging students to pursue a broad range of options, from higher education to vocational schools to diverse career choices," she said.

SRI's study will continue to follow the lives of students with disabilities as they age and are out of high school longer, which will provide valuable information about how post-high school outcomes evolve over time.

Overview of NLTS2

NLTS2 is intended to provide a national picture of the experiences and achievements of students in special education during high school and as they transition from high school to adult life. NLTS2 involves a nationally representative sample of students who were 13 to 16 years old and receiving special education services in December 2000 when the study began. These students were followed until 2010 in an effort to understand their educational, vocational, social, and personal experiences as they transition from adolescence to early adulthood. Findings from NLTS2 generalize to special education students nationally as a group, to each of the 12 disability categories in use for students in the NLTS2 age range, and to each single-year age group.

The study described has been one hundred percent funded via a federal contract with the U.S. Department of Education, Contract #ED-01-CO-0003. The total estimated value of this ten year contract is $23,577,424.

About SRI International's Education Research

SRI International conducts education research in three main areas: education reform, education policy, and the application of technology to improve education. Our researchers study reforms that hold promise for improving the K-16 system of schooling and lifelong learning and evaluate the design, implementation and impact of educational programs, especially those targeted at disadvantaged students. We also undertake projects to examine the design, implementation and impact of policies, programs and practices in the areas of early childhood, special education, school partnerships, and community services and strategies. One of our missions is to improve teaching and learning by conducting research on the innovative design, use and assessment of interactive learning environments. A particular focus is helping educational technology firms improve their products by providing research insights and strengthening educational designs.

About SRI International

Silicon Valley-based SRI International is one of the world's leading independent research and technology development organizations. SRI, which was founded by Stanford University as Stanford Research Institute in 1946 and became independent in 1970, has been meeting the strategic needs of clients and partners for more than 60 years. Perhaps best known for its invention of the computer mouse and interactive computing, SRI has also been responsible for major advances in networking and communications, robotics, drug discovery and development, advanced materials, atmospheric research, education research, economic development, national security, and more. The nonprofit institute performs sponsored research and development for government agencies, businesses, and foundations. SRI also licenses its technologies, forms strategic alliances, and creates spin-off companies. In 2009, SRI's consolidated revenues, including its wholly owned for-profit subsidiary, Sarnoff Corporation, were approximately $470 million. Sarnoff Corporation, a leader in vision, video, and semiconductor innovations, will be fully integrated into SRI effective January 1, 2011.


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