Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Effect of Transition Planning on Postsecondary Support Receipt by Students with Disabilities

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Effect of Transition Planning on Postsecondary Support Receipt by Students with Disabilities

Article excerpt

Over a 10-year period, the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) collected data on a nationally representative sample of more than 11,000 students with disabilities from 500 local education agencies and 40 special schools across the United States. Of these students, approximately 3,190 reported transitioning from high school to some type of postsecondary education and were followed longitudinally, offering a unique and comprehensive understanding of the experiences of the complete population of postsecondary students with disabilities. Most other studies of postsecondary students with disabilities feature small sample sizes, are based on institutional reports, or relied on student self-identification and thereby overlooked the nearly two thirds of postsecondary students with disabilities who do not self-disclose (Newman & Madaus, 2014b).

The NTLS2 conceptual framework (Wagner & Marder, 2003) posited that youth's experiences in secondary and postsecondary school are shaped not only by the immutable characteristics of students (e.g., disability category, gender, race or ethnicity) and their households (e.g., household income, mother's education level) but also by factors that have occurred in their past (e.g., academic preparation and performance, transition planning) and factors that are fluid and can change over time (e.g., seeking supports in postsecondary school). Newman and Madaus (2014b, 2015) conducted a series of secondary analyses of the NLTS2 data set, specific to those students who attended postsecondary education, guided by the NTLS2 conceptual framework as well as by Tinto's interactional theory of student departure from postsecondary school (Tinto, 1975, 1993). Tinto's theory examines the role of the individual characteristics of students, including family background and high school experiences, upon decisions to commit to an institution and the goal of graduation or the decision to leave college (Braxton, Hirschy, & McLendon, 2004).

The first analysis (Newman & Madaus, 2014b) examined rates of self-disclosure and accommodation receipt, an important consideration because upon transitioning to college, responsibility for decision making and advocacy shifts from the school to the student. Postsecondary students with disabilities may be eligible to receive disability-related accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans With Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008, civil rights laws designed to guarantee protection from discrimination on the basis of disability and equal access to participation. However, in order to receive disability-related accommodations and supports, college students with disabilities must disclose their disability to the school and request specific supports in a timely manner that follows the procedures set forth by the institution. Newman and Madaus (2014b) found that only 35% of students with disabilities who received special education services in high school and later attended postsecondary school disclosed their disability. Further, whereas 98% of the sample had received at least one disability-specific accommodation or service while in high school, only 24% did so in postsecondary institutions.

The second analysis by Newman and Madaus (2015) used the NLTS2 framework and Tinto's (1975, 1993) theory to examine which specific individual student characteristics and secondary school experiences were related to the receipt of postsecondary disability-specific accommodations and supports. Existing literature has noted the impact of high school experiences on postsecondary receipt of accommodations and other disability-specific supports. For example, Lightner et al. (Lightner, Kipps-Vaughn, Schulte, & Trice, 2012) found that students who received more transition planning in high school were more likely to self-disclose their disability earlier in college and then were more likely to have higher college grade point averages (GPAs) and earned credits by their sophomore year than those students who waited to disclose. …

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