Using post-school status data for special education graduates for program decisions
Post-school status data have been collected for students in special education for policy purposes. Transition services were mandated as a response to these follow-up data. Yet there is little evidence that practitioners use these data to inform program decisions or modification.This analysis examined the use of post-school follow-up data for special education graduates in five school districts using case study methodology. Data were collected using questionnaires, focus group discussions and individual interviews.Informants' preferences regarding data collection and dissemination included: (1) data should be "personalized" in order for practitioners to connect the numbers to their students and programs. This was described as "hearing the stories"; (2) data should be examined with colleagues in order to discuss and use these data for program evaluation and decision-making; (3) data should be presented in graphs rather than tables, and include a one-page summary of the local data.Additional themes concerning policy and programs developed. These included: (1) The low numbers of graduates in the district study were surprising and disturbing to the informants. These numbers were perceived as an indication of a high dropout rate for special education students. (2) The informants identified the lack of curricular options in the high school as an additional concern. These options included lack of vocational programs, lack of functional life skills programs for students with mild disabilities, and lack of work-based learning opportunities. (3) Credits and graduation requirements were described as having priority over transition services in planning a student's program. State academic standards and high stakes tests were described as increasing the tension between school reform efforts and transition services.Recommendations from this study include implications for local school practices and policy regarding post-school status data and recommendations for further research.
- Education - Seattle