In light of the data supporting the education of individuals with severe disabilities in natural contexts, it stands to reason that programs would no longer provide training in contexts other than those that result insurable employment opportunities. However, this continue to occur. Even with mandated transition planning integrated employment outcomes are not improving for students with severe disabilities. Many of these students will then enter the public welfare system and/or segregated adult programs.
The purpose of this study was to identify variables that are correlated with successful integrated employment outcomes for transitioning students with severe disabilities.
The setting included 20 different schools sites within 12 school districts in a county in California.
The sample included 104 students with severe disabilities, ages 18-22, who had exited school without diploma. Close to half (48%) of the participants had an IQ that placed them in the profound (25%) or severe (23%) category. The majority of the participants were white (53%), followed by Hispanic (28%), Asian (13%),African American (4%) and Pacific (2%). Around 53% of the students were males. Around 80% of the participants lived at home; the others lived in group homes.
The specific variables measured in this study included: the influence of duration of community-based training (CBT) that included on-the-job training, on the-job training as a subset of CBT, the least restrictive environment (LRE), or the degree of integration with non-disabled peers during the school day, demographics(gender, ethnicity, home setting, behavior problems, physical disability and mental ability) as measured by
intelligence quotient (I.Q.).Data was collected by structured interview with teachers and administrators, record review and on site observations. Correlations were used to examine predictive relationships between the independent variables and the dependent variable of post-school integrated employment. Cross tabulations and chi-square analysis of correlated variables were then used to identify significance of specific variables on employment outcome.
The intervention was community based training. This included on the job training and physical integration with non disabled peers.
There was no comparison or control group
These data indicate significant interactions between community based training (r = 0.387, p < 0.001), degree of integration with typical peers (r = 0.360, p < 0.001), andon-the-job training (r = 0.305, p = 0.001) and employment outcome. There were also strong intercorrelations among the three variables of CBT, degree of integration or LRE and on-the-job training.Transitioning students who received CBT and on the job training had a 69% integrated employment rate after leaving school.
The combinations of least restrictive environments,CBT/on-the-job training, and innovative teacher advocacy are potent predictors of post school employment for students with severe disabilities, regardless of intellectual functioning.