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Changes in Postsecondary Education Participation of Youth with Disabilities

Changes in Postsecondary Education Participation of Youth with Disabilities

Two studies by the U.S. Department of Education provide documentation of changes experienced since the mid 1980s by secondary school students with disabilities as they transition to young adulthood. Purpose: To assess change between 1987 and 2003 in the early postschool outcomes (i.e. postsecondary enrollment, employment, engagement in the community, living arrangements, and social involvement) of youth with disabilities. Changes also are described for youth with disabilities who differed in their school-exit status, age, gender, household income, and race/ethnicity. Findings: By 2003 there were significant increases in youth with disabilities' postsecondary education enrollment and employment rates. There also was an increase in participation in organized community groups. Despite the positive changes, other changes were disconcerting: the sizable increase in the proportion of youth with disabilities who had been fired from a job or arrested. In addition, there was no real change in earnings over time when wages were adjusted for inflation. There were differential changes in outcomes across disability categories, continued limitations for youth from households with lower income, and decreasing but persistent racial/ethnic differences. Conclusion: The age groups included in NLTS and NLTS2 and the timing of data collection in the two studies permit one more comparison between youth with disabilities represented in the two studies--when youth were ages 18 through 21 and had been out of high school up to 4 years. Analyses of those cohorts, to be presented in future reports, will reveal the ways in which the changes in the early postschool outcomes of youth with disabilities documented in this report evolve as youth continue into early adulthood.

APA Citation: 

Newman, L. (2005). Chapter 4: Changes in Postsecondary Education Participation of Youth with Disabilities. Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education, The, 27(2), 30-38.

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