Students with disabilities often fall through the cracks in college plan discussions
- Federal law requires that schools create transition plans for high school students with disabilities, but schools often set goals that are too low and don’t take into account the wishes, needs and capabilities of these students, the Hechinger Report reveals in an article and podcast.
- Most students with disabilities are capable of graduating from high school and earning a college degree, according to a report from Achieve and the University of Minnesota’s National Center on Educational Outcomes — yet most will be directed to lower-paying jobs that don't require postsecondary education.
- Slightly more than half of students with disabilities will enroll in postsecondary education programs, and only about a third of those students will complete them within eight years, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Education.
When most school administrators and school counselors think about college-bound students, those with disabilities do not often spring to mind. However, most of these students are capable of succeeding in postsecondary education programs with some help and encouragement along the way. In fact, more colleges are developing programs to attract students with disabilities and are providing more resources — such as the Think College program located at the Institute for Community Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts-Boston — to help them meet their college goals. The growing use of technology is also putting college within reach of more students than before.
The issue is important, not only because of federal laws that require schools to create transition plans for students with a broad range of disabilities, but also because it helps these students to become more independent in the long run. According to the National Center for Special Education Research, “Ensuring that students with disabilities have ‘access to and full participation in postsecondary education’ has been identified as one of the key challenges in the future of secondary education and transition for such students. Postsecondary education has been linked to increased earning potential for young adults who continue their education after high school, even for those who have not earned a degree.”
High schools need to consider students with disabilities when planning college fairs and college visits. They also need to make sure that these students have access to resources to aid them and their families as they plan. Both EdSmart and U.S. News and World Report have created guides to helps students take steps toward college, and these may be valuable links to include as student resources.
- The Hechinger Report High schools push few students with disabilities to consider college