Skip Navigation
Print Evaluations

National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012)

Contract Information

Current Status:

Collection of school records data is underway.

Duration:

Phase I (Sampling and Survey Collection): September 2010 – February 2018;
Phase II (Administrative Records Collection): September 2015 – March 2024

Cost:

Phase I: $24,243,405; Phase II: $10,144,199

Contract Number:

ED-IES-10-C-0073 (Phase I); ED-IES-15-C-0046 (Phase II)

Contractor(s):

Phase I:
Mathematica Policy Research
University of Minnesota, Institute of Community Integration

Phase II:
RTI International
SRI International
Social Dynamics

Contact:

Despite improvements over time, students with disabilities continue to face challenges in graduating and achieving other milestones towards independence after high school. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) seeks to address these challenges by requiring schools to provide the supports students need to complete high school and pursue postsecondary education and work. This study will provide an updated national picture of students' paths through high school and beyond, as well as measure the progress youth with an individualized education program (IEP) have made since the most recent reauthorization of IDEA in 2004. The study will also provide the first direct comparisons of the in-school experiences and outcomes of high-school aged youth with and without an IEP.

  • How do the personal, family, and school characteristics and in-school experiences of youth with disabilities differ from those of youth not served under IDEA? (Volume 1; March 2017)
  • How do the characteristics and school experiences of youth vary across disability groups? (Volume 2; March 2017)
  • How have the characteristics and school experiences of youth with disabilities changed over time? (Volume 3; February 2018)
  • How do the course taking paths of youth with disabilities compare to that of other youth?
  • Are youth with disabilities achieving the high school and post-high school outcomes envisioned by IDEA, and how do their college, training, and employment rates compare to those of other youth?
  • How do these high school and postsecondary outcomes vary with student characteristics, including their disability?

This descriptive study includes a nationally representative sample of over 400 districts and about 21,000 students. During Phase I of the study, survey data were collected in 2012–2013 from approximately 12,000 youth ages 13–21 and their parents, of which about 10,000 are students with IEPs representing each of the federal disability categories. The surveys asked students' background characteristics, health, functional abilities, and engagement in school, the academic supports they receive, and their expectations for and steps to achieve transitions beyond high school.

Phase II of NLTS 2012 will follow the students through high school and beyond, relying on administrative data collected by the Department and other agencies. The study will obtain high school course-taking and completion information from school district records (to be completed in 2021) and postsecondary enrollment information from the Department's Federal Student Aid (FSA) records and the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) (to be collected 2021–2022). The study is also seeking to obtain information on receipt of federal benefits and employment from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department's Rehabilitative Services Administration (RSA). Administrative data will be linked with the 2012–2013 survey data to examine key steps in high school course-taking and completion, and youth's experiences with college, training, and employment.

Three related report volumes describing the survey information collected have been released (two on March 28, 2017 and the third on February 7, 2018). A brief summarizing the key findings from across the three volumes was released on May 15, 2018. Publications are listed below. Subsequent reports will be announced on http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/.

Descriptive Reports

Preparing for Life after High School: The Characteristics and Experiences of Youth in Special Education. Findings from the NLTS 2012. Volume 1: Comparisons with Other Youth (March 2017)

Preparing for Life after High School: The Characteristics and Experiences of Youth in Special Education. Findings from the NLTS 2012. Volume 2: Comparisons among Disability Groups (March 2017)

Preparing for Life after High School: The Characteristics and Experiences of Youth in Special Education. Findings from the NLTS 2012. Volume 3: Comparisons Over Time (February 2018)

Evaluation Brief

Preparing for Life after High School: The Characteristics and Experiences of Youth in Special Education. A Summary of Key Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (May 2018)

Review Synthesis

Improving Post-High School Outcomes for Transition-Age Students with Disabilities: An Evidence Review (August 2013)

A restricted-use file containing de-identified sampling and 2012–2013 survey data is available for the purposes of replicating study findings and secondary analysis.

The May 2018 brief summarizing key findings from the Phase I data collection about students' experiences in high schools includes:

  • Although their engagement and use of school supports have increased over the past decade (2003–2012), high school youth with an IEP are more socioeconomically disadvantaged and less likely to have experiences and expectations associated with success after high school than were other students in 2012.
  • Among the disability groups in 2012, youth with intellectual disability, autism, deaf-blindness, multiple disabilities, and orthopedic impairments were found to be most at-risk for not transitioning successfully beyond high school

Key findings will be updated when subsequent reports are released.