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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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Getzel, L., Stodden, R. A., & Briel, L. (2001). Pursuing postsecondary education opportunities for individuals with disabilities. In P. Wehman (Ed.), Life beyond the classroom: Transition strategies for young people with disabilities (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Brookes.

The number of postsecondary students reporting a disability has increased dramatically, climbing from 2.6% in 1978, to 9.2% in 1994, to nearly 19% in 1996 (Blackorby & Wagner, 1996). Since 1990, there has been a 90% increase in the number of colleges, universities, technical institutions, and vocational technical centers offering opportunities for persons with disabilities to continue their education (Pierangelo & Crane, 1997). Nonetheless, the enrollment of people with disabilities in postsecondary institutions is still 50% lower than enrollment among the general population. This gap in educational attainment significantly affects the long-term employment prospects for persons with disabilities. This book chapter discusses a series of decisions that need to be made in order for individuals to select a program that best meets their academic and personal needs. Current trends in postsecondary education for individuals with disabilities are explored. The authors explore critical factors in successfully transitioning from secondary to postsecondary education programs, in addition to best practices in educating students with disabilities who are seeking advanced degrees.


Sharpe, M., & Johnson, D. R. (2001). A 20/20 analysis of postsecondary support characteristics. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 16(3/4), 169-177.

An analysis was conducted with data obtained from a national survey to study institutional characteristics of support services that reflect high and low levels of capacity based on supports and accommodations available to students. In this analysis, two-year and four-year public and private institutions (N = 259) were partitioned into two groups representing "High Capacity" and "Low Capacity" institutions to examine issues related to institution size, disability types of students served, staff-to-student ratios, and other elements of services that reflect "capacity". Results of this study indicate that High Capacity institutions provide significantly more supports and accommodations to a more diverse range of students with disabilities, even with staff-to-student ratios about the same or higher than Low Capacity institutions. Also, supporting other research conducted in this area, large, public institutions were found to reflect a greater level of capacity than small, private institutions.


Stodden, R. A. (2001). Postsecondary educational supports for students with disabilities: A review and response. Journal for Vocational Special Needs Education, 23(2), 4-11.

Legislation and practice in the provision of supports to students with disabilities in postsecondary educational settings is fairly recent and undocumented. Current research does not provide a clear picture of the availability and effectiveness of educational supports necessary for students with disabilities to successfully complete postsecondary education programs and obtain or sustain employment relative to training. Due to the piecemeal and unorganized nature of the information available, it is difficult to formulate conclusions and recommendations leading to improved postsecondary education and subsequent employment outcomes for people with disabilities. An extensive literature review was conducted to examine existing knowledge and perspectives on the provision of educational supports to students with disabilities in postsecondary educational settings.


Vreeberg-Izzo, M., Hertzfeld, J., Simmons-Reed, E., & Aaron, J. (2001). Promising practices: Improving the quality of higher education for students with disabilities. Disabilities Studies Quarterly, 21(1).

A program improvement cycle for increasing the quality of postsecondary programs for students with disabilities is described. Nine promising practices were selected from a review of promising practices submitted by 21 model demonstration projects that have been charged with improving the quality of postsecondary education for students with disabilities. These nine practices were divided into three phases of the program improvement cycle: (a) assessing the climate of the institution; (b) delivering professional development activities to administrators, faculty, and students; and (c) building capacity for institutional change. Focus group comments from faculty and students are infused throughout the article to illustrate the beliefs and recommendations of these two primary stakeholders. For a similar document, see:

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