January 20, 2015
Individuals with intellectual disabilities who attend postsecondary
programs are finding greater success in the job market than those who do not
pursue further education, a new study suggests.
Graduates of postsecondary programs reported higher rates of employment
since completing high school, according to findings published online this month
in the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities. The research offers support for a
growing number of programs at colleges and universities specifically geared
toward young adults with developmental disabilities.
For the study, researchers interviewed administrators and surveyed 34
graduates from two postsecondary programs — one focused on providing supports
so students can participate in typical college classes and the other offering a
more specialized program just for those with disabilities. Researchers asked
about the work experiences of the graduates who completed postsecondary
programs between 2011 and 2013.
The graduates’ experiences were then compared to data from the
federally-funded National Longitudinal Transition Study 2 on the post-high
school outcomes of individuals with intellectual disabilities who did not
attend postsecondary programs.
Researchers found “steep gains” for individuals in both the specialized and
inclusive postsecondary offerings.
Slightly over half of those who did not seek additional education after
high school said they had been employed in the last two years. By comparison,
roughly 9 in 10 of those who graduated from a postsecondary program reported
that they had worked outside their home or former school in the same time
“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that (postsecondary
education) programs for individuals with (intellectual disabilities) are highly
effective as a means to increase employment rates for such individuals,” wrote
Eric J. Moore of the University of Tennessee and Amy Schelling of Grand Valley
State University in their findings. “Such data can and should be used to
encourage further propagation of (postsecondary) programs for individuals with
IDs and provides justification for pilot programs of similar kinds in countries
wherein (postsecondary) programs have not yet been made available for
individuals with IDs.”