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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition: Creating opportunities for youth with disabilities to achieve successful futures.

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This topic explores how the kinds of supports that are currently offered in postsecondary education and the manner in which they are offered differ from supports in secondary education, and how they may affect outcomes for individuals with disabilities.


Individuals with disabilities are less than half as likely as individuals without disabilities to obtain a postsecondary degree. Several reasons for the low attendance and retention rate of persons with disabilities in higher education have been proposed. One possible reason is that many youth with disabilities are not adequately prepared to meet the entrance requirements and academic rigor of postsecondary institutions. It is also possible that youth with disabilities are not encouraged to extend their education beyond secondary school.

Other possible explanations lie within postsecondary institutions themselves. For example, the kinds of supports they provide to students with disabilities may be different than those offered by secondary education institutions, and students with disabilities may experience difficulty when transitioning between these different systems of supports. Another possible explanation could be that postsecondary schools focus on equal access, ensuring compliance with disability discrimination legislation, rather than focusing on providing a quality experience for their students with disabilities.

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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
Institute on Community Integration
University of Minnesota
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Minneapolis MN 55414

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This page was last updated on January 12, 2022.