Summarizes the education and employment outcomes of students with disabilities and analyzes how the Every Student Succeeds Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act can advance college and career readiness; provides specific strategies, examples, and guidance for state leaders to improve the outcomes of student with disabilities.  

“As states consider ways to increase the number of youth who are college and career ready, they must ensure that students with disabilities are able to succeed. States can promote college and career readiness (CCR) by equipping students with the knowledge and competencies needed to enter postsecondary education, join the workforce, and lead full and independent lives. Despite advances in improving CCR for students with disabilities, a great deal of work is needed to help more students achieve their full potential. The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 (ESSA) provides states with flexibility over the design of their educational systems and offers additional provisions to support CCR for all students, including those with disabilities….The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides protections for students with disabilities to ensure all students receive a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment….

This brief examines how two federal laws, ESSA and IDEA, can promote the development of meaningful pathways to postsecondary opportunities, including 2- and 4-year college, non-degree certificate programs, apprenticeships, and more, by ensuring all students are college and career ready, and it provides examples of model programs. Specifically, this brief:

• Examines data on secondary and postsecondary education participation and employment outcomes of students with disabilities;

• Considers how CCR strategies can support students with disabilities on a path to postsecondary education and career opportunities;

• Provides analyses of the provisions under ESSA and IDEA that support CCR for students with disabilities;

• Features examples of effective practices;

• Includes guidance for state leaders” (p.1-2).

(Abstractor: Author)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The report includes information on education and employment outcomes of students with disabilities, ideas for leveraging “ESSA and IDEA, two major pieces of federal legislation,…[to] align their efforts to better support CCR of students with disabilities” (p.12), and strategies and guidance for college and career readiness: “Secondary Education Outcomes Students with disabilities graduate from high school at lower rates than the general population. During the 2014–15 school year, the high school graduation rate for all students reached an all-time high of 83%....Although the graduation rate of students with disabilities grew slightly to 65% from 64% the previous academic year, a significant graduation rate gap remains between students with disabilities and the overall rate…” (p.4). “Postsecondary Education Outcomes… [T]he percentage of people with disabilities ages 21 to 64 with a bachelor’s degree or higher level of degree attainment was 14% compared with 33% of people without disabilities…. Employment Outcomes… In 2015, the employment rate for people with disabilities ages 21 to 64 was less than half than for people without disabilities (35.2% and 78.3%, respectively)…” (p.5). “Strategies to Support College and Career Readiness for Students With Disabilities…[include:] •“High Expectations and Access to the General Curriculum” (p.6). •“Career Pathways” (p.8). •“Dual and Concurrent Enrollment” (p.9). •“Personalized and Competency-Based Learning” (p.10). The report also includes guidance for state leaders alongside the aforementioned strategies, including “subgroup accountability,” and “alignment across policies and programs” (p.15). “ESSA requires states to track outcomes for students with disabilities in their accountability system. It is important that states set an appropriate ‘N size’ for subgroup accountability so it does not discount students with disabilities” (p.15). “States should look holistically across ESSA, IDEA, and other important federal legislation such as the Perkins Act, WIOA, ADA, and Rehabilitation Act to better align and strengthen efforts to support CCR and education and workforce outcomes of students with disabilities” (p.15). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)