Preparing for Life After High School: The Characteristics and Experiences of Youth in Special Education. A Summary of Key Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012

NCEE Evaluation Brief
Publisher: Washington, DC: Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
May 15, 2018
Stephen Lipscomb, Johanna Lacoe, Albert Y. Liu, and Joshua Haimson

Key Findings:

  • Compared with other students in 2012, youth with disabilities are more socioeconomically disadvantaged and less likely to have experiences and expectations that are associated with success after high school. For example, compared with their peers, youth with disabilities are more likely to live in low-income households and with parents receiving federal food benefits. Furthermore, youth with disabilities are more likely than other students to struggle academically and less likely to take steps to obtain postsecondary education and jobs.
  • Over the past decade (2003-2012) there has been greater engagement and use of supports in school among youth with disabilities, but they are less likely than in the past to participate in some key transition activities. IDEA 2004 and its regulations emphasized providing supports for students with disabilities to make progress in school, equal opportunities to participate in school activities, and strategies to encourage successful transitions beyond high school.
  • Among the disability groups in 2012, youth with intellectual disability, autism, deaf-blindness, multiple disabilities, and orthopedic impairments were found to be more at-risk in their preparation for life after high school.

This brief summarizes findings from surveys of secondary school youth with disabilities and their parents collected for the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012, conducted as part of an assessment of IDEA.


National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012


U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences

Time Frame


Senior Staff

Joshua Haimson
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Stephen Lipscomb
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