This guide is for teachers, schools, and states to implement strategies that can enable students with disabilities to graduate high school, succeed in college, and generally become prepared for a fulfilling career.

This issue brief is intended to assist state policymakers in better understanding strategies to prepare students with disabilities and special needs for college and career. The brief provides context and background on the numbers of students with disabilities who are college and career ready; examines issues and strategies related to preparation and readiness for postsecondary education and careers; and included examples of current programs and policies that help students with disabilities to successfully transition to college and career.  In addition, the brief presents several strategies for supporting college and career readiness for students with disabilities along with the requisite actions for schools and state policy makers.  It also provides examples of policies and programs and provides information about additional resources.

Major Findings & Recommendations

There are many promising strategies to help students with disabilities become college and career ready. These approaches can inform not only the special education field but also the general education field, as educators seek to improve instruction and supports for all students. States can promote the implementation of these strategies by: 

  • Encouraging schools to raise expectations for students with disabilities, while respecting individual career and life goals, interests, and desires;
  • Increasing the amount of available information regarding postsecondary and career options early in the high school years;
  • Increasing the availability of knowledgeable counselors who can provide guidance and transition planning support;
  • Ensuring all students are served by well-trained teachers prepared to support their individual needs;
  • Helping district and school staff to better use data to inform instruction; and
  • Providing multiple pathways to post-high school success.