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IES Grant

Title: Project Summer: Improving Summer Employment and Community Inclusion Outcomes for Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2006
Principal Investigator: Carter, Erik Awardee: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Program: Transition Outcomes for Secondary Students with Disabilities      [Program Details]
Award Period: 7/1/2006 to 6/30/2009 Award Amount: $915,346
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324S060023
Description:

Purpose: The purpose of Project Summer is to develop a practical, but effective, intervention designed to improve transition services for youth with disabilities and maximize engagement in summer employment and other transition-related activities. While research on transition services for youth typically has focused on educational and vocational programming provided during the academic school year, little is known about the employment and community activities of youth with disabilities during the summer. Summer offers an opportune time to address transition-related goals in community contexts-employment in particular-circumventing many of the limitations associated with addressing these goals during the school year. Unfortunately, empirically-validated strategies aimed specifically at promoting the summer employment of youth with disabilities remain absent from the literature.

Project Activities: The researchers are developing a summer intervention strategy for use with youth with disabilities. First, the researchers will examine the summer employment and community activities of adolescents with disabilities to identify differences between youth who do and do not engage in summer employment or transition-related summer activities and assess the degree to which student, family, educational, and community factors predict students' summer engagement. Specifically, this project will describe and compare the summer activities of youth (a) with EBD (n = 60), (b) with significant disabilities (e.g., mental retardation, autism, multiple disabilities; n = 60), and (c) without disabilities (n = 60). Second, focus groups and surveys will be used to obtain the input of key stakeholders regarding (a) barriers and challenges to youth participation in summer employment and inclusive community activities, and (b) educational services and community supports that might promote youth participation. These efforts will be directed toward soliciting recommendations and strategies from individuals who may play a direct role in facilitating and/or supporting summer employment. Third, the researchers will evaluate the impact of an innovative intervention approach on the summer employment and community involvement of adolescents and young adults with EBD or significant disabilities.

Products: The expected outcomes from this study include:

  1. An intervention approach to be used during summer employment and inclusive community activities with young adults with EBD or significant disabilities,
  2. Published reports on the effectiveness of the intervention involving person-centered planning, resource mapping, collaborative involvement, community connectors, and stakeholder recommended components, and
  3. Presentations on the identified strategies to disseminate these findings widely and strategically to relevant parties.

Setting: Research will be conducted in 13 high schools across 10 rural, suburban, and urban school districts in Wisconsin. Grades 9 through 12 will be the focus.

Population: Students with emotional behavioral disabilities (EBD), students with significant disabilities (e.g., MR, ASD, multiple disabilities), and students without disabilities will be included in the research conducted by this project. All students will be in grades 9 through 12. An initial comparative study of summer activities will include 180 students (60 in each of the aforementioned groups). The intervention developed by the project will be tested on an experimental group of 50 students with disabilities (25 with EBD and 25 with significant disabilities) compared with a similarly constituted control group of 50 students with disabilities.

Intervention: The researchers will develop a summer intervention that involves person-centered planning, resource mapping, collaborative involvement, community connections, and other components to be determined by research and stakeholder input.

Research Design and Methods: For the initial study comparing students with EBD, students with significant disabilities, and students without disabilities, up to ten students from each group will be randomly selected from a sample of 8 or more high schools in Wisconsin. Data will be collected during the spring and summer. The project will also analyze data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study - 2 (NLTS-2) to identify services and supports that predict successful summer outcomes. The project will also conduct a total of 18 focus groups including students with disabilities, parents, and service providers to obtain additional input concerning the intervention to be developed. After the intervention has been developed, it will be tested by means of a randomized block design in which youth aged 16 to 21 will be assigned to experimental or control groups on the basis of the high school attended.

Control Condition: The experimental test of the intervention developed will involve a control group that receives transition services traditionally provided to students with disabilities, but none of the components of the intervention.

Key Measures: The initial comparative study of summer experiences will involve measures of employment status including weeks employed since start of summer, hourly earnings, hours per week, job type, job satisfaction, and informal and formal supports received, and efforts made to obtain and sustain work activities. In addition, scales of community involvement and summer satisfaction will be developed. All of these data will be collected via structured telephone interview. The initial comparative study will also use predictor measures such as demographic data collected from school records, the AIR Self-Determination Scale, the Transition Planning Inventory, and project-developed interviews concerning summer expectations and plans. The test of the developed intervention will involve the same measures used in the initial comparative study described above, plus measures of treatment fidelity and social validity (Treatment Acceptability Rating Profile-Revised and Intervention Rating Profile-15).

Data Analytic Strategy: Data from the initial comparative study of summer experiences will be analyzed using multivariate procedures to compare outcomes between the three student groups. Regression analysis will be used to identify predictors of summer engagement, and logistic regression will be used to identify the optimal combination of variables for predicting summer employment and community involvement. Data from the test of the developed intervention will be analyzed by means of a series of one-way MANOVAs or MANCOVAs (to account for prior differences), and effect sizes will be calculated.

Publications from this project:

Trainor, A. A., Carter, E. W., Owens, L., & Swedeen, B. (2008). Special educators' perceptions of summer employment and community participation opportunities for youth with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 31 (3),144–153. doi: 10.1177/0885738808323717

Carter, E. W., Owens, L., Swedeen, B., Trainor, A. A., Thompson, C., Ditchman, N., & Cole, O. (2009). Conversations that matter: Expanding employment opportunities for youth with significant disabilities through community conversations. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 41 (6), 38–46.

Carter, E. W., Owens, L., Trainor, A. A., Sun, Y., & Swedeen, B. (2009). Self-determination skills and opportunities of adolescents with severe disabilities. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 114 (3), 179–192. doi: 10.1352/1944–7558–114.3.179.

Carter, E. W., Swedeen, B., & Trainor, A. A., (2009). The other three months: Connecting transition-age youth with disabilities to meaningful summer experiences. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41 (6), 18–26.

Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Cakiroglu, O., Cole, O., Swedeen, B., Ditchman, N., & Owens, L. (2009). Exploring school-employer partnerships to expand career development and early work experiences for youth with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32 (3), 145–150. doi: 10.117/0885728809344590

Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Ditchman, N., Swedeen, B., & Owens, L. (2009). Evaluation of a multi-component intervention package to increase summer work experiences for transition-age youth with severe disabilitiesResearch and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 34 (2), 1–12.

Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Sun, Y., & Owens, L. (2009). Assessing the transition-related strengths and needs of adolescents with high-incidence disabilities: Youth, teacher, and parent perspectives. Exceptional Children, 76 (1), 74–94.

Carter, E. W., Ditchman, N., Sun, Y., Trainor, A. A., Swedeen, B., & Owens, L. (2010). Summer employment and community experiences of transition-age youth with severe disabilities. Exceptional Children, 76 (2), 194–212.

Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Cakiroglu, C., Swedeen, B., & Owens, L., (2010). Availability of and access to career development activities for transition-age youth with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 33, 13–24. doi: 10.1177/0885728809344332

Carter, E.W., Trainor, A.A., Owens, L. Swedeen, B., & Sun, Y. (2010). Self-determination prospects of youth with high-incidence disabilities: Divergent perspectives and related factorsJournal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. 18,67–81. doi: 10.1177/1063426609332605

Carter, E. W., Austin, D., & Trainor, A. A. (2011). Factors associated with the early work experiences of adolescents with severe disabilities. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 49 (4), 233–247. doi: 10.1352/1934–9556–49.4.233

Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Ditchman, N., & Owens, L. A. (2011). A pilot study connecting youth with emotional and behavioral difficulties to summer work experiences. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 34 (2), 95–106. doi: 10.1177/0885728810395745

Carter, E. W., Trainor, A. A., Ditchman, N., Swedeen, B., & Owens, L. (2011). Community-based work experiences of adolescents with high-incidence disabilities. Journal of Special Education, 45 (2), 89–103. doi: 10.1177/0022466909353204

Trainor, A. A., Carter, E. W., Swedeen, B., Owens, L., Cole, O., & Smith, S. A. (2011). Perspectives of adolescents with disabilities on summer employment and community experiences. Journal of Special Education, 45 (3), 157–170. doi: 10.1177/0022466909359424

Carter, E. W., Austin, D., & Trainor, A. A. (2012). Predictors of postschool employment outcomes for young adults with severe disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 23, 50–63. doi: 10.1177/1044207311414680

Trainor, A. A., Carter, E. W., Swedeen, B., & Pickett, K. (2012). Community conversations: An approach for expanding and connecting opportunities for employment for adolescents with disabilities. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 35, 49–59. doi: 10.1177/0885728811419166

Carter, E. W., Brock, M. E., & Trainor, A. A. (2014). Transition assessment and planning for youth with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. Journal of Special Education, 47, 245–255. Doi: 10.1177/0022466912456241


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