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


This chapter describes youth's expectations for attaining certain educational and independence outcomes. Most youth expect they will graduate from high school, with a regular diploma. Approximately half expect they will attend school after high school and one-quarter to one-third expect they will graduate from one of three types of postsecondary schools. Youth with disabilities are less positive than their peers in the general population about postsecondary education attendance and completion.

The majority of youth with disabilities expect they will get a paid job, but they are less certain that these jobs will pay enough for them to be financially self-sufficient. Most youth think they "definitely" or "probably" will live independently in the future. Among youth who think they will not be able to live independently without supervision, half do not expect to live away from home with supervision.

Expectations are related in that youth who hold higher expectations in one domain tend to hold higher expectations in other domains. Further, youth tend to hold higher expectations for themselves than their parents held for them 2 years earlier. Despite these differences, parents' and youth's expectations are related to each other in that youth who hold higher expectations tend to have parents who hold higher expectations for them.

There are differences in expectations regarding the future educational attainment and independence of youth in different disability categories. Youth with hearing or visual impairments or traumatic brain injuries tend to hold higher expectations related to postsecondary education than do those with mental retardation or multiple disabilities. Youth with learning disabilities; emotional disturbances; speech/language, visual, or other health impairments; or traumatic brain injuries are more likely to expect to be financially self-supporting and to live independently without supervision than are those with mental retardation, autism, or multiple disabilities. No differences in expectations are significantly related to gender, age, household income, and race/ethnicity.

The longitudinal design of NLTS2 permits the monitoring of progress of youth with disabilities in their future pursuits, as well as an assessment of the extent to which the expectations examined here are realized in the years following high school.