How Well Are We
Preparing Students for the Journey to Adulthood?
It has been said that success is a journey, not a destination. So how well are we preparing students with disabilities for the trip? It’s a question we need to ask young people with disabilities who have left school and are trying to make it in the adult world. We do that every year by using post-school outcomes surveys.
About a year after leaving school, young adults in selected school districts in Kentucky who had Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) will be contacted for a survey to see how well they are doing. Are they enrolled in college? Are they pursuing some kind of job training? Have they found competitive employment? These are all good questions.
Surveys are conducted between April and September every year in every state. Participation is voluntary, of course, but the input from former students who take a little time to offer feedback is invaluable. The information is used to improve how we prepare youth with disabilities to move from high school to adulthood – a big step for any student.
Locating former students can be a challenge, however. Young adults tend to be quite mobile so it’s likely that at a student’s final IEP meeting, schools will ask students for accurate telephone numbers and e-mail addresses for family members – and others who know the student well – before they leave school. That way, it will be much easier for them to reach former students and find out how they are doing in the future.
The data is collected in different ways by different states. In
for example, a case manager or service person from the student’s former school
conducts the phone interview. To learn more about how Kentucky collects data visit Kentucky Post School Outcome Center (KYPSO). Minnesota
States are required to collect this information under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in order to develop strategies to improve the number of former students with disabilities who are enrolled in higher education or are competitively employed. All answers are confidential and the responses are anonymously compiled into a representative sample of former students. The results are included in the Annual Performance Report each state submits to the U.S. Department every year in the section for “Indicator 14” (Post-school outcomes). Kentucky’s most recent progress report is available online at Kentucky Post School Outcome Center (KYPSO) or at KDE Special Education Services.
Everyone wants to see students with disabilities become successful adults. Research indicates that when parents, teachers, and students work together to map out a realistic plan for the future, the transition to adulthood goes more smoothly. The more we know about the journey former students are on today, the better we can help other youth with disabilities make their travel plans for tomorrow.