ERIC Number: EJ889358
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Reference Count: 19
Postsecondary Outcomes in the 21st Century--A Change Is Gonna Come?
Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities (RPSD), v33 n3 p100-102 Fall 2008
Numerous studies show that employment, community participation, and postsecondary training rates of students with severe disabilities after leaving high school are the lowest of all disability categories and compare unfavorably to those of their peers without disabilities. In addition, outcomes generally do not improve as these students age. Certo et al. (2008) focus attention again on the fact that integrated, community employment outcomes for people with severe disabilities have not improved despite the 2004 Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) mandate to address post-secondary outcomes, including integrated employment, independent living, and community participation. Instead, four times more federal funding currently is directed toward segregated, sheltered employment than toward supported employment, while supported employment participation stagnates. Numbers of people on waiting lists for employment and community services in some states exceed 74,000. Despite repeated demonstrations that individuals with severe disabilities can be successfully employed, reluctance to support integrated employment programs by policymakers, legislators, and others persists. Certo et al. (2008) cite a number of contradictions in service provision that partially accounts for the dismal employment outcomes experienced by persons with severe disabilities. To address these contradictions, they suggest: (1) authorizing school districts to subcontract with outside agencies as students transition from high school to ensure their employment; and (2) pressuring the federal government to amend legislation to provide entitlement to long-term support for exiting high school students. Implicit in these suggestions is the belief that service integration and inclusion in community employment and activities must begin while students are still in school to create a seamless transition to adult life. In concert with community agencies, schools would, therefore, have renewed incentive to address students' postsecondary outcomes, as articulated as a "results-oriented process" in IDEIA 2004. As an example of the viability of the systems change model, the authors describe the Transition Service Integration Model (Certo et al., 2003), which incorporated recommended changes and resulted in increased employment rates for students with severe disabilities. Certo et al. (2008) tell not to accept segregated, second-class outcomes for students. If "a change is gonna come" in the postsecondary lives of students with severe disabilities, it will not happen on its own. It will take parents, educators, legislators, and people with disabilities themselves to make the systems changes needed to improve adult outcomes for students with severe disabilities. The author urges people to get on the bandwagon and take action toward making Certo et al.'s recommendations become a reality.
Descriptors: Supported Employment, Independent Living, Community Involvement, Disabilities, Employment, Employees, Severe Disabilities, Federal Legislation, Adults, Students, High Schools, High School Students, Inclusive Schools, Special Education, Postsecondary Education
TASH. 1025 Vermont Avenue 7th Floor, Washington, DC 20005. Tel: 202-263-5600; Fax: 202-637-0138; Web site: http://www.tash.org/publications/rpsd/rpsd.html
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: High Schools; Postsecondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Americans with Disabilities Act 1990; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; No Child Left Behind Act 2001