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ERIC Number: EJ1066327
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
Problematic Data on How Many Students in Postsecondary Education Have a Disability
Leake, David
Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, v28 n1 p73-87 Spr 2015
The most widely cited statistics on postsecondary students with disabilities in the United States are based on the Department of Education's quadrennial National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS). However, these statistics are called into question by their substantial variability across NPSAS administrations and by results of the second National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS2). For example, according to NPSAS 2008 telephone survey results, fewer than 10% of postsecondary students with disabilities reported having learning disabilities, compared to the NLTS2 finding of nearly 70%. The NLTS2 results can be considered to be of superior validity and reliability given that study's (1) longitudinal tracking into early adulthood of a large nationally representative sample of high school students in special education and (2) categorization of participants as to their disabilities based on their school records. By contrast, the cross-sectional NPSAS relies on self-reports by postsecondary students who are likely to interpret questions about disabilities in varied ways. In addition, many NPSAS participants may decline to identify themselves as having disabilities, as suggested by NLTS2 findings that most postsecondary students with disabilities decide not to self-disclose to their institutions. It appears that NPSAS disability statistics are misleading and their dissemination should be discontinued. Given the potential utility of accurate data on students with disabilities, postsecondary education institutions may want to consider conducting their own campus-level disability surveys.
Association on Higher Education and Disability. 107 Commerce Center Drive Suite 204, Huntersville, NC 28078. Tel: 704-947-7779; Fax: 704-948-7779; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: National Longitudinal Transition Study of Special Education Students
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A