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Perceptions and Expectations of Youth With Disabilities  (NLTS2)
NCSER 2007-3006
September 2007

Chapter Four: Youth With Disabilities' Views of Secondary School

Research has demonstrated that the way youth feel about school can be related to their behavior and performance at school, outside of school, and in the years after leaving school. For example, studies have established linkages between students' participation in school, enjoyment of school, and academic achievement (Fredricks and Eccles 2006; Herman and Tucker 2000; Hudley et al. 2002; Newmann 1992; Singh, Granville, and Dika 2002; Sirin and Jackson 2001). Further, a recent "snapshot of America's teens" (Albert et al. 2005) reports research that suggests that teens who feel connected to their schools and are highly involved at school are less likely to have sex at an early age, and girls are less likely to get pregnant (Manlove 1998; Resnick et al. 1997). Pursuit of postsecondary education also has been statistically related to youth's engagement in their schooling during their high school years (Finn 2006; Fredricks and Eccles 2006; Mahoney, Cairns, and Farmer 2003). However, little research has addressed the perceptions youth with disabilities have of their experiences in secondary school.

This chapter addresses this gap in the knowledge base by documenting the self-reported perceptions of youth with disabilities28 regarding the following aspects of their school experiences:

  • academic challenges;

  • interpersonal challenges;

  • school safety;

  • services and supports received at school;

  • affiliation with school; and

  • enjoyment of school.

28 Readers are reminded that findings are national estimates for the subsample of youth with disabilities who could report their own perceptions and expectations, not a sample of all youth with disabilities in the NLTS2 age range. See chapter 1 for further details on the group that is the focus of this report.