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National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012:Preparing for Life After High School

by Sandy Shacklady-White

The National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS) 2012 provides updated information on youth with disabilities in light of the challenges youth with disabilities have been facing in recent years to inform efforts to address their needs. There is concern about the challenges today’s youth are experiencing because of the ever changing educational, social, and economic landscape in our nation. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education under a congressional mandate to study IDEA 2004 and the students it serves, the NLTS 2012 describes the backgrounds of secondary school youth and their functional abilities, activities in school and with friends, academic supports received from schools and parents, and preparation for life after high school. Through surveys in 2012 and 2013, the study collected data on a nationally representative set of nearly 13,000 students— mostly those with an individualized education program (IEP) and expected to receive special education services. The study also includes students without an IEP who either have no identified disability or who have an impairment that does not qualify them for special education but allows them to receive accommodations through a 504 plan under the Rehabilitation Act, another federal law pertaining to the rights and needs of youth with disabilities. Students with a 504 plan are a growing segment of the public school population, making it important to understand their needs and how their needs differ from those of students with an IEP.
The NTLS report consists of three volumes. Below is a synopsis of each volume and its corresponding link:
Preparing for life after high school: The characteristics and experiences of youth in special education Volume 1: Comparisons with other youth (U.S. Department of Education, March 2017)
Volume 1 focuses on the similarities or dissimilarities between youth with an IEP and their “peers” — youth without an IEP (both groups combined, though youth with a 504 plan are also examined separately). This assessment provides context for understanding how youth in special education have fared in the decade following IDEA 2004 and suggests several key points. See Full Report at link above.

Preparing for life after high school: The characteristics and experiences of youth in special education Volume 2: Comparisons across disability groups (U.S. Department of Education, March 2017)

This second volume focuses on youth with an IEP only and the similarities or dissimilarities across 12 disability groups defined by IDEA 2004. The assessment of diversity among the disability groups in the decade following IDEA 2004 suggests several key points. See Full Report at link above.

Preparing for life after high school: The characteristics and experiences of youth in special education Volume 3: Comparisons over time (U.S. Department of Education January 2018)
Volume 3 uses data from all three studies in the NLTS series to examine how the characteristics and experiences of youth in special education have changed over time, overall and for each of 12 disability groups defined by IDEA 2004. Most of the analyses examine trends for in-school youth ages 15 to 18 from 2003 to 2012. See Full Report at link above.

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