Academic journal article Exceptional Children

An Analysis by Gender of Long-Term Postschool Outcomes for Youth with and without Disabilities

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

An Analysis by Gender of Long-Term Postschool Outcomes for Youth with and without Disabilities

Article excerpt

In the past decade, investigators conducting follow-up studies of youth served by special education have reported differential postschool outcomes by gender. In a series of studies conducted by Hasazi and colleagues in Vermont (Hasazi, Gordon, & Roe, 1985a; Hasazi et al., 1985b; Hasazi, Johnson, Hasazi, Gordon, & Hull, 1989), female special education students were reported to do significantly less well than their male counterparts. For example, Hasazi et al. (1985a) found an overall employment rate of 65% for former students with learning disabilities and mild mental retardation; when the data were analyzed by gender, however, the rates were twice as high for males (66%) than for females (33%). Hasazi et al. (1985b) reported similar findings in their second study, with an overall employment rate of 46% for subjects with mild and moderate mental retardation, a 56% rate for the males, and a 23% for the females. In a third study, comparing employment rates of former special education students to a cohort with no disabilities, Hasazi et al. (1989) found that even though the employment rates of males with and without disabilities were similar (73% and 88%, respectively), less than half as many young women (30%) with disabilities were employed compared to their female peers without disabilities (63%). Similarly, Nisbet and Lichtenstein (1992) reported full-time employment for 38% of male graduates with learning disabilities, compared to 16% of their female peers. More than twice as many females as males were working part time. On a national scale, Wagner et al. (1991) reported that 52% of the males and only 22% of the females in their study were employed full time 3-5 years after exiting high school.

The purpose of the current study was to explore the differences in postschool outcomes between males and females with learning disabilities, mild mental retardation, and no disabilities, while controlling for several factors not addressed by the earlier studies (a separate data analysis by disability, consistency of time since graduation from high school, and similarities between the groups of young people - with and without disabilities).

METHOD

The data set used in this study is part of a larger project entitled The First Decade After Graduation. The Decade Project is finishing its third year of a federally funded 5-year longitudinal follow-up of two cohorts of students who are graduates of special and regular education high school programs.

The Decade Project-Gender Substudy

Sample. The Decade Project sample comprises two cohorts of young people who graduated from three school districts (one urban and two suburban) in Washington State. The special education sample included all students in the three districts who had individualized education plans (IEPs) at the time of graduation and had been classified in one of the 10 disability categories defined in the Washington Administration Code. For this gender substudy, graduates from special education identified at the time of graduation as having mild mental retardation (MMR) or learning disabilities (LD) were included. We attempted to conduct interviews for all graduates with MMR or LD from both cohorts from each of the three school districts. The graduates with no disabilities (ND) were randomly selected from the regular education graduation lists from the same school districts for the same graduation years. The sample consists of the following: Cohort 1 comprises 28 youth with MMR, 172 youth with LD, and 349 youth with ND who graduated in June 1985. Cohort 2 comprises 20 youth with MMR, 117 youth with LD, and 261 youth with ND who graduated in June 1990.

Outcome Variables. The information requested in the interview focused primarily on the postschool experiences of the graduates. In particular, we solicited information about the graduates' current and previous employment status; postsecondary education, training, and graduation credentials; residential status; and marital and parenting status, defined as follows: * Employment is defined as working at least 1 hr per week in a capacity that pays a wage. …

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