For disabled students school is hard enough, but life after it can be an even greater challenge. How do special education students fare after high school? A recently published, two-volume report on the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 may shed some light and help to answer this question. The study reveals some updated information on children with disabilities, their experience at school, their communication with peers, the support they receive and, of course, preparation for life after graduation. In a recent article Are High School Students With Disabilities Prepared for Life After School? Christina Samuels of Education Week examines the most important aspects of the survey.
The first volume of research compares the performance of special education youth with that of their “typically developing peers.” Below are some of the most important findings:
1. Socioeconomic marginalization of students with disabilities
“Youth with an Individualized Education Program (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.”
2. Everyone likes school
“The vast majority of youth with and without an IEP feel positive about school. [However] Those with an IEP experience bullying and suspension at higher rates, and are less engaged in school and social activities.”
3. Less academic support for students with disabilities
“Youth with an IEP are more likely than other youth to struggle academically, yet less likely to receive some forms of school-based support. Half of students with IEPs report having trouble with their classes.
“However, 72 percent report getting help before or after school or during the summer, compared to 78 percent of their typically developing peers. Students with disabilities said that 73 percent of youth with disabilities were guided by school staff on course selection, compared to 82 percent of students who do not have an IEP.”
Living life to the fullest–this is a goal we all share, including individuals with special needs who are attempting independent living. Achieving this goal requires knowing how to live independently in the community, as well as how to live cooperatively and respectfully with others. The second volume from the study focuses on the comparison within the disabled category, examining 12 disability groups. Here are some of the key findings:
1. Successful transition from high school
“Five groups—youth with autism, deaf-blindness, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, and orthopedic impairments—appear to be at higher risk than all youth with an IEP for challenges making successful transitions from high school.”
2. What is needed to succeed after high school
“Useful information: there are seven characteristics in the study that are linked to post-high school success: performing the acts of daily living well; getting together with friends weekly; participating in a school sport or club; avoiding suspension; taking a college entrance or placement exam; having recent paid work experience; and having parents who expect the student to live independently.
“Youth with intellectual disabilities and multiple disabilities are less likely than their peers with disabilities to have six of those seven experiences. (However, students with intellectual or multiple disabilities are more likely to have never been suspended.)”
3. Emotionally disturbed is the most vulnerable group
“Youth with emotional disturbances are the most likely disability group to be suspended, expelled, arrested, and bullied. Sixty-five percent have been suspended and 19 percent expelled, compared to 29 percent and 8 percent, respectively, of all students with an IEP.”
As a leader in the special education community, the James Stanfield Company has spent decades addressing the issue of transition readiness in students with disabilities. This recent report has only restated the problems faced by the different groups of students with special needs and emphasized the need for further implementation of transition programs in students’ IEP’s. Special needs require special care – here you can find our “School To Work Skills” programs, which help students with special needs navigate their way through various obstacles to start an independent life.
The child who is ‘left behind’ most is the one who leaves school without transition readiness.
Dr. James Stanfield, Ed.D.