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Evaluation of Transition Supports for Youth with Disabilities

Contract Information

Current Status:



September 2019 – December 2029



Contract Number:



American Institutes for Research
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Social Policy Research Associates
Quality Information Partners


Students with disabilities continue to lag their peers in high school graduation, enrollment in postsecondary education, and employment more than a decade after the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Although IDEA requires states and districts to support student efforts toward their post-high school goals, there is limited evidence about which strategies are effective. This study assesses variants of an approach that the Department has promoted — strengthening students' goal setting, planning, and self-advocacy skills and helping them apply these self-determination skills to their transition objectives. The first strategy is a more systematic and coordinated version of how schools commonly teach students these skills. The second increases the intensity, and cost, by not only teaching the skills but also providing individual mentoring to help students complete key steps toward their goals.

  • Is instruction in self-determination skills and how to apply them to transition planning effective in improving the intermediate and post-school outcomes of students with disabilities?
  • Is offering individual mentoring along with self-determination skill instruction effective?
  • What is the added benefit and cost of providing individual mentoring support?

This study will randomly assign approximately 3,000 high school students with an individualized education program who are two years from expected graduation. They will receive one of the study's transition support strategies or continue with the regular transition supports they receive from their school. Training on the study's transition support strategies and students' participation in the strategies will occur over two years, 2023–2024 and 2024–2025. Data collection will include (1) student surveys and student records to estimate intermediate outcomes, (2) administrative records on postsecondary participation and employment to estimate longer term outcomes, and (3) documentation of strategy implementation.

The first report from the study is expected in 2027 and will be announced on

Key findings will be available after the study report is published.