At 15 to 19 years old, NLTS2 youth are on the threshold of adulthood. As they look toward their future adult roles, what are their academic, occupational, and independence expectations? Multiple factors have been found to be associated with aspirations and expectations, including individual abilities and social context (Hudley et al. 2003; Sirin et al. 2004). For example, teachers' supportive behaviors—emotional warmth and academic validation—have been found to be related to students' educational aspirations (Yun and Kurlaender 2004), and occupational aspirations have been found to be more closely associated with youth's perceived efficacy than with their actual academic achievement (Bandura et al. 2001).
Youth's future aspirations are positively related both to their high school outcomes and their adult achievements (Nurmi 1991; Wyman et al. 1993). Having more positive expectations for the future is associated with being academically successful and engaged in high school (Hudley et al. 2002; Murdock, Anderman, and Hodge 2000). Higher expectations of academic and career success is related to higher high school completion rates (Franse and Siegel 1987), thereby avoiding the negative impact on employment and postsecondary education attainment associated with dropping out (Wagner et al. 2005). In addition, higher educational aspirations are associated with higher postsecondary school attendance rates (Durham, Danner, and Seyfrit 1999).
NLTS2 asked youth with disabilities to envision their futures and articulate their expectations for the period following high school. This chapter presents findings regarding expectations related to educational and independence achievements for youth with disabilities as a whole and for those who differ in their primary disability category.40 No differences in expectations between youth with different demographic characteristics reach the p < .01 level of statistical significance; thus, they are not reported here.
40 Readers are reminded that findings are national estimates for a 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.