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IES Grant

Title: Factors Associated with Postsecondary Success for Students with Disabilities
Center: NCER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Newman, Lynn Awardee: SRI International
Program: Postsecondary and Adult Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (7/1/2012-6/30/2014) Award Amount: $689,151
Type: Exploration Award Number: R305A120300

Purpose: Students with disabilities face significant obstacles in making successful transitions to college. Not only do students with disabilities continue to face challenges to learning as they move into college, only 28 percent of postsecondary students with disabilities disclose their disabilities to their colleges, and thus may not receive the types of supports they received in the K–12 system. Previous research has demonstrated that college interventions designed to help at-risk students in the general population are associated with improvements in college persistence and completion. What currently is unknown is the specific relationship between these types of college interventions and postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities. The purpose of this study is to examine this relationship.

Project Activities: The researchers will conduct secondary data analyses of the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2). It is the only nationally representative database on the secondary school and post-high school experiences and outcomes of students with disabilities. By applying propensity score matching to the analysis of data available in the NLTS2, the researchers will answer two questions. First, what is the relationship between receipt of postsecondary interventions—both those available because of a disability and those available to the general student body—and postsecondary persistence and completion for students with disabilities? Second, what are the factors associated with disclosing a disability and requesting supports and accommodations?

Products: Products will include preliminary evidence about the relationship between college interventions and postsecondary outcomes specifically for students with disabilities, and peer reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: NLTS2 contains a nationally representative sample of secondary level and post-high school level students with disabilities.

Sample: NLTS2 contains a sample of more than 11,000 youth drawn from hundreds of districts nationwide.

Intervention: The researchers will focus on two types of postsecondary school interventions. The first is the receipt of disability-related supports or instructional accommodations (e.g., additional time for tests and technology aids). The second is the receipt of the types of schoolwork help that are available to the general postsecondary student body, such as tutoring assistance, or help from a study or writing center.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use data from the five NLTS2 data waves. These waves were collected every other year beginning in 2001 and ending in 2009. Analyses will focus on students with disabilities who attended postsecondary school at any time during the study period. When supported by sufficient sample size, subgroup analysis of students in different disability categories will be conducted, focusing specifically on categories with relatively high rates of postsecondary attendance. In addition, analyses will be conducted on students attending different types of postsecondary institutions, including 2- and 4-year colleges, and technical, business, or vocational schools. Data are mostly from the waves-2-through-4 parent and youth telephone interviews and mail surveys. Individual-level covariates, such as demographic characteristics, functional abilities, and academic achievements are based on interviews, direct assessments of academic skills, surveys of high school staff, and high school transcripts.

After completing initial descriptive analyses, the team will use propensity score methods to describe the relationship of postsecondary school interventions to outcomes for students with disabilities. Variables related to student demographics, family characteristics, disability and functioning, high school experiences and performance, and postsecondary school experiences will be used in the propensity score methods to create "statistical twins"—postsecondary students with disabilities who are similar in these characteristics but who differ relative to participation in a particular postsecondary school intervention. Intervention receipt then will be related to measures of postsecondary outcomes using logistic regressions.

Control Condition: Postsecondary students who did not receive an intervention constitute the control condition in the analyses.

Key Measures: The key covariate is participation in the intervention programs. Key outcome measures include: the relative probabilities of completion and dropout; and overall probability of completion, persistence, and dropout.

Data Analytic Strategy: Methods used include descriptive statistics and propensity score matching. To estimate treatment effects, the researchers will conduct logistic regressions within each quintile to estimate the quintile-specific effect of the intervention (e.g., the increase in the odds ratio for graduation). They will also include in the outcome models any covariates that remained imbalanced after the propensity score subclassification.

Related IES Projects: Factors Associated with the High School Preparation and Post-High School Outcomes of Youth with Disabilities: Secondary Analysis of Data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (R324A100025); Factors Associated with High School and Post-High School Outcomes for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students (Secondary Analysis of NLTS2 Data) (R324A120188)


Inside IES Research Blog Post

Students with Disabilities and Postsecondary Success: An Interview with Lynn Newman, Ed.D. and Joseph Madaus, Ph.D. (2015)

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Newman, L.A., and Madaus, J.W. (2015). An Analysis of Factors Related to Receipt of Accommodations and Services by Postsecondary Students With Disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 36(4): 208–219.

Newman, L.A., and Madaus, J.W. (2015). Reported Accommodations and Supports Provided to Secondary and Postsecondary Students With Disabilities: National Perspective. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 38(3): 173–181.

Newman, L.A., Madaus, J.W., and Javitz, H.S. (2016). Effect of Transition Planning on Postsecondary Support Receipt by Students with Disabilities. Exceptional Children, 82(4): 497–514.

Shattuck, P.T., Steinberg, J. Yu, J., Wei, X., Cooper, B.P., Newman, L., and Roux, A.M. (2014). Disability Identification and Self-Efficacy Among College Students on the Autism Spectrum. Autism Research and Treatment. Article ID 924182.

Wei, X., Christiano, E. R., Jennifer, W. Y., Blackorby, J., Shattuck, P., and Newman, L. A (2014). Postsecondary Pathways and Persistence for STEM Versus Non-STEM Majors: Among College Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44(5): 1159–1167.