A r c h i v e d  I n f o r m a t i o n

To Assure the Free Appropriate Public Education of all Children with Disabilities - 1995

Services Anticipated to be Needed by Exiting Students with Disabilities: Results of the Pass Pilot Test

IDEA specifies that OSEP collect data on those services anticipated to be needed for students age 12 through 21 exiting the educational system.In the past, anticipated services data were collected annually. Because of changes in the law, these data are now collected every three years. Data on anticipated services data are intended to improve transition planning by informing State agencies, such as Vocational Rehabilitation and Developmental Disabilities, of the service needs of students exiting the educational system. Initially, OSEP collected the data from States on an aggregate basis. However, at least two problems with this data were identified.In some cases, State personnel based service needs estimates on the student's type of disability.In other cases, data were gathered by school and district personnel who may have been inexperienced in judging the adult service needs of students leaving the educational system.

The PASS System

OSEP began investigating alternative ways to collect anticipated services data in 1988. The PASS (Performance Assessment for Self-Sufficiency) system was designed to provide a better way to collect, synthesize, and report anticipated service needs data. The PASS system consists of two distinct components. The first component is the PASS instrument, which provides information about the functional performance of students that service providers complete on the basis of their knowledge of the student. The second component is an expert system that translates the assessments into useful information that special education and adult services agencies at all levels can use to anticipate service needs and plan services for young persons with disabilities.

The PASS instrument was developed in collaboration with well-known transition experts, State and local administrators, and special education and adult services providers. The specific skills and behaviors targeted on the PASS instrument are ones that are typically required for adult life and that have service implications. For example, very low performance ratings on several specific indicators--such as "moves self about in immediate neighborhood (e.g., walking, bicycling)," "uses public transportation if available (e.g., bus, taxi)," "uses maps and bus schedules when appropriate," etc.--suggest that the student will need assistance with the mobility and transportation aspects of daily living. The PASS instrument also provides information about the student's training, education, and employment, as well as any major behavior problems. No special assessment training is required. Service providers may complete the PASS based on what they already know about the student from direct observation or other reliable sources.

The second component of this new approach uses expert system technology for projecting service estimates in 16 categories, for individuals and service populations, based on data from the PASS instrument.6 The PASS expert system converts service providers' ratings of students on the PASS instrument into case-by-case and aggregate projections of adult service needs. The PASS expert system was constructed with input from a professionally and geographically diverse and representative group of over 30 experts knowledgeable in the full spectrum of disability categories and adult service areas.

Results of the PASS Pilot Test

A 10-State field test of the administrative feasibility of States and school districts using the PASS instrument to collect data was conducted in 1991-92. The 10 States represented the range of all States on three factors: 1) complexity of intrastate education data collection pathways; 2) availability of pupil-based data at the State level; and 3) per pupil expenditures in special education. They were also nationally representative of various demographic characteristics, such as number of urban centers and population size. The participating States were Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Ohio.

Table 1.11 shows the percentage of students anticipated to have a primary need in one of the 16 service categories in the 1991-92, as determined by the PASS expert system technology. The four PASS system need categories are:


TABLE 1-11. Percentagea/ of Students with Disabilities Exiting the Educational System in the 1991-92 School Year Anticipated to Have a Primary Need for Services Beyond High School
ANTICIPATED  ILL   LA   MASS  MICH  MINN  MISS  NJ    NC    ND    OH   TOTAL SERVICES    (114) (91)  (53)  (74)  (100) (76) (105) (104) (202) (119)(1038)
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Mobility      30   25    26    22    11    39   18    24    18    22    23   Specialized Transport.    15   12     8     7     6    14    9     9     4     8     9  Technological Aids          36   25    21    45    19    14   29    25    30    28    28  Medical and Medically-    18   15    15    24    20    18   21    17    13    13    17 Related  Communication 55   38    43    59    39    25   34    34    51    42    43  Independent Living        47   34    26    31    21    53   35    38    36    33    36  Residential Living        18   13     4    26    22    14   13    19    28    17    19  Social Skills Training      37   32    53    30    27    47   38    32    25    40    34  Mental Health 12   14    25    20    13    14   30    13    17    20    18  Vocational Training and   1    0     4     3     3     5    4     0     5     3     3 Job Placement  Ongoing Employment-   22   14    30     9    10     21  14    13    13    24    16 Related  Alternative  Education     55   36    62    36    38     66  39    59    53    55    50  Services to Support Post  36   26    34    53    67     25  37    41    58    47    45 Secondary Ed.  Recreation/ Leisure       54   42    51    49    32     53  57    44    40    47    46  Family Services      25   22    13    15     6     21   9    12     9    15    14  Case Management    83   60    79    82    81     80  70    80    89    86    80  No goods or spec. services 5    7     2     0     5      0   4     1     3     5     3 anticipated 

a/ Percentages based on the number of students with disabilities exiting the educational system.

Note: The numbers in parentheses indicate the sample size in each state.

Source: American Institutes for Research, Palo Alto, "Project PASS System Output" October 3, 1994.


Across the 10 States, case management was the primary need in most demand (required by 80 percent of the exiting students). Louisiana had the lowest demand for case management (60 percent), and North Dakota the highest (89 percent). The PASS expert system projected that in six States--Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, and Ohio--alternative education services were a primary need for over half of their exiting students. In nine States, recreation and leisure services were a primary need for over 40 percent of the students.The PASS expert system projected that only a small percentage of students had a primary need for vocational training and job placement.

In all 10 States, only 3 percent of the students had that need. Exiting students with disabilities in two States--Louisiana and North Carolina--did not require vocational services. It is interesting to note that few students had no primary needs. In fact, the PASS expert system results for Michigan and Mississippi showed that all exiting students had a primary need for a least one post-school service.

In all 10 States, the PASS expert system projected that few exiting students had secondary needs. No students were indicated as having secondary needs for services in the specialized transportation, medical and medically related, independent living, recreation and leisure, and case management categories. A secondary need for services to support postsecondary education was indicated for 13.5 percent of the students in the sample. A secondary need was indicated for 10 percent of the students in the sample in each of the areas of alternative education, communication, and technological aids.

OSEP Activities on Anticipated Services Data

PASS uses a very different mode of data collection than any other OSEP collections. To discuss the value and the administrative feasibility of the PASS system, OSEP convened a task force in March 1994. The task force included representatives from advocacy organizations and Regional Resource Centers, State directors of special education, State vocational rehabilitation agencies, State special education data managers, State transition coordinators, and university researchers. Members of the task force identified many benefits that could result from the PASS system, including providing a "seamless" transition from special education to adult services; providing a tool for outcome assessment; improving interagency cooperation at the State level; aiding transition planning for individual students; and permitting system-level planning based on a common information base. The task force also identified issues that must be resolved prior to implementing PASS nationally. These issues include:assessing whether the PASS instrument's assessment of the functional performance of students with mild disabilities is valid; assessing how student age may affect the validity of the PASS system; assessing how the demand for services would affect educational and non-educational agencies, since there is currently no Federal entitlement for adult services; having experts determine whether the decision rules are valid; and maintaining confidentiality of student records.

Based on the task force findings, OSEP decided to conduct a second field test of the instrument to identify as many implementation issues as possible. Results of the field test would also be used to refine the expert system decision rules and the PASS instrument. This field test was conducted in selected States during the 1994-95 school year.


6 The sixteen service categories used in PASS differ from earlier collections of anticipated services. For example, information was newly collected on social skills training, alternative education services (such as adult basic education and GED), services to support post-secondary education recreation and leisure services, and case management services. In some cases, old service categories were combined, while others were split.
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