A federal report suggests that far too little is known about the effectiveness of various types of transition programs in preparing students with disabilities for adulthood.
Despite significant emphasis in special education policy on the importance of transition, a new review from the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance at the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences found that not much is known about what approaches work best.
Researchers looked at studies conducted between April 2008 and June 2011 examining the post-high school outcomes of students with disabilities who participated in transition programs. Specifically, they sought to examine whether or not students who participated in the programs were likely to be employed, live independently or continue their training or education after leaving high school.
Just 43 studies were deemed worthy of consideration for the review. Findings from the report indicate that community-based work programs show “mixed effects” on employment outcomes though there’s some evidence that such offerings have positive effects on postsecondary education outcomes.
Meanwhile, programs focused on functional life-skills development appear to have positive effects on independent living outcomes, though the evidence was minimal, the review found.
Overall, however, the researchers indicated that a lack of meaningful studies meant they could not make broad assessments about what types of programs are best equipped to help students with disabilities make successful transitions to work, independent living or further training or education after high school.