National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012: Tracking Youth with and Without Disabilities
Over the past three decades, policymakers have sought to enhance the ways schools and other organizations help youth with disabilities prepare for a successful transition from school to adult life. To support these efforts, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has sponsored longitudinal studies examining the diverse needs, school experiences, and postsecondary paths of these youth.
Mathematica is conducting the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012—the third longitudinal study sponsored by ED—to gather up-to-date information on youth with and without disabilities. The sample consists of youth identified as needing special education services—that is, those with individualized education plans (IEPs)—as well as two other groups: (1) those with a condition that qualifies them for accommodations under Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and (2) other students with no identified disability. This enabless the study to gauge how the characteristics, experiences, and outcomes of students with IEPs differ from those of the other two groups. In addition, by comparing the results of the new surveys with those of previous ones, the study can measure changes in the characteristics, school experiences, and postsecondary outcomes of youth with IEPs.
Baseline data collection will take place in spring 2012 followed by additional data collection in spring 2014. Data will be drawn from the following sources:
- Youth interviews will provide baseline information on sample members’ experiences and perceptions of school, career and educational expectations, support for developing postsecondary plans, social interactions with peers, and self-determination skills. The follow-up interview will provide information about education experiences and a broad range of outcomes for youth in school and those no longer in school.
- Parent interviews will provide information at baseline on family and child characteristics, including the nature of a child’s disabilities and ability to perform various tasks, parents’ educational expectations for their children, assistance received to make decisions about postsecondary education or work, and supports children receive in school. Follow-up interviews will provide data on education experiences and outcomes.
- Youths' school program survey, completed by the special education staff person most familiar with the sample member's school program, will identify courses sample members take in the current semester, supports and accommodations, postsecondary transition plans, and who participated in that planning process.
- Math and language arts teacher surveys will provide information on the classroom setting, the sample member’s classroom participation compared with the rest of the class, academic performance, and social and emotional skills.
- Principal surveys will cover school policies, programs, staffing levels, and other available resources.
- An assessment of academic skills will measure math and language arts skills. Youth ages 16 or older will complete the assessment in spring 2012; younger students complete the assessment in spring 2014 when most will be 16 or older. For the small fraction of sample members who are unable to complete this assessment, a teacher or parent will provide information on students' skills.
- Students' school records will be collected at follow-up for all youth who have left high school. These records will provide more detailed information on key outcomes, including the courses sample members took, their grade point averages, test scores, attendance, suspensions, high school completion, and the type of high school degree earned.