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 - 1996

Services Anticipated to be Needed by Exiting Students with Disabilities: Results of the Second PASS Field Test

IDEA requires that the Secretary of Education collect data on those services anticipated to be needed for students ages 12-21 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 3 years. Data on anticipated services 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 education system. Initially, OSEP collected the data from States on an aggregate basis. However, at least two problems with these data were identified. In some cases, State personnel based service needs estimates on the student's disability classification. 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.

In order to address these problems, OSEP developed the PASS (Performance Assessment for Self-Sufficiency) system in conjunction with transition experts and State and local administrators and practitioners in special education and adult services. PASS instruments, which capture information about the functional performance of students, are completed by teachers on the basis of their knowledge of their students. This information is then fed into an expert system that translates the teachers' assessments into useful information that special education and adult services agencies at all levels can use to anticipate service needs, and to plan services for young adults with disabilities.

Results of the Second Field Test

The PASS instrument collects data on individual students. Because of the technical complexity of the data collection, OSEP elected to conduct a second field test of the PASS. (The Seventeenth Annual Report to Congress reported on the first PASS field test.) The primary goals of this second field test were to determine the administrative feasibility of conducting a student-level data collection, to provide checks on the decision rule base of the expert system, and to collect anticipated services data as required by law.

Eight States were involved in the second field test: Arizona, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, and West Virginia. Four of these States--Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, and North Dakota--participated in the original field test as well.

In the second field test, 2,206 assessments were completed for students exiting the educational system. This sample was more than twice as large as that of the first field test. Additionally, two States--Nebraska and West Virginia--completed assessments for nonexiting students. In Nebraska a sample of students with disabilities who returned to regular education (n=171) was assessed. In West Virginia, PASS instruments were completed for 755 nonexiting students with disabilities for use in transition planning.

Overall, the adult service needs projected from the second field test were similar to findings from the earlier test.8 Table 1.7 shows the percentage of exiting students with disabilities having primary needs in the 16 adult service categories. Primary needs are defined as those needs judged to be essential for the student. The most prevalent primary need was case management (80 percent of the total sample). The majority of all exiting students in all eight States were considered to require this service. The percentage of students requiring this service ranged from 67 percent of exiting students with disabilities in Nebraska to 93 percent of the exiting students with disabilities in Minnesota.

TABLE 1.7 Percentage of Students with Disabilities Exiting the Educational System in the 1994-95 School Year Anticipated to Have a Primary Need for Services Beyond High School

Anticipated Services Arizona (n=272)
Minnesota (n=116)
Mississippi (n=98)
Nebraska* (n=593)
Nevada (n=433)
North Carolina (n=234)
North Dakota (n=178)
West Virginia (n=282)
Total (2,206)
Mobility 21% 11% 28% 8% 15% 20% 23% 17% 15%
Specialized transportation 8% 3% 13% 2% 8% 7% 8% 6% 6%
Technological aids 28% 22% 20% 23% 33% 45% 35% 14% 28%
Medical and medically-related 18% 29% 16% 10% 15% 23% 24% 15% 17%
Communication 41% 48% 32% 30% 26% 47% 60% 22% 35%
Independent living 31% 24% 48% 22% 22% 25% 22% 31% 26%
Residential living 8% 16% 8% 10% 9% 25% 22% 31% 26%
Social skills training 26% 22% 36% 33% 26% 21% 30% 31% 29%
Mental health 18% 21% 14% 24% 17% 26% 21% 18% 20%
Vocational training and job placement 3% 0% 1% 4% 9% 3% 2% 1% 4%
Ongoing employment-related 22% 16% 26% 27% 23% 15% 25% 18% 22%
Alternative education 59% 59% 59% 55% 39% 45% 53% 49% 51%
Services to support postsecondary education 51% 67% 24% 53% 46% 59% 68% 28% 49%
Recreation and leisure 42% 45% 44% 48% 32% 42% 43% 35% 41%
Family services 15% 5% 22% 14% 9% 15% 6% 9% 12%
Case management 91% 93% 89% 67% 83% 91% 91% 68% 80%
No goods or services anticipated 6% 3% 4% 4% 6% 3% 1% 16% 6%

* Students assessed in Nebraska exited the school system in the 1993-94 school year.

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

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).

In Arizona, Mississippi, Nebraska, and West Virginia, alternative education, which includes programs for continuing adult education, Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Educational Development (GED), adult high school diploma, and adult compensatory or special education, was the next most common primary need found among the sampled students. In Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, and North Dakota, services to support postsecondary education were considered a primary need for the majority of students assessed. Communication services--assistance and training related to the act of communication, including speech/language therapy, interpreter services, reader services, braille training, and tactile interpreting services--were considered primary needs for over a third of the total sample. However, in North Dakota 60 percent of the exiting students with disabilities were projected to require this service from adult service providers. Vocational training and job placement were reported as a primary need for relatively low percentages of students. In no State were as many as 10 percent of the students considered to have this need.

These percentages are comparable to those in the first field test. However, these percentages seem lower than those that might be expected, given the anecdotal information provided by the States. During the next year, OSEP will review the data on which these projections were based to identify any problems in the decision rules or the assessment items that might be affecting the projection of vocational service needs.

In the total sample, only 6 percent of the students had no anticipated services. This percentage varied across States. West Virginia reported the largest percentage (16 percent) of students projected as not needing adult services. In North Dakota only 1 percent of the sample had no adult service needs.

Few students with disabilities were projected as having secondary needs for adult services. Secondary needs are defined as those needs considered warranted, but which experts felt were not critical. No exiting students with disabilities were identified as having secondary needs in the areas of mobility, specialized transportation, medical services, and recreation and leisure services. The most common secondary need was for services to support postsecondary education. Again, these findings are consistent with those of the first field test.

OSEP Activities on Anticipated Services Data

OSEP provided funding to the National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) to query States not participating in the PASS field test to identify alternative methods used to collect anticipated services data that would meet the IDEA data requirement, as well as provide useful information to adult service providers. Nine States--Arkansas, California, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Vermont--provided information to NASDSE concerning these alternative methods.

Seven of the States use monies from transition system change grants to address the issue of anticipated services for a sample of students. The types of activities pursued in these system change projects include case studies, follow-up surveys to assess post-school functioning, and school district self-evaluations. Vermont currently collects anticipated services data for all students with disabilities. Teachers complete a one-page form and indicate the services that will be needed upon exit from school. The five areas of need used by Vermont are living arrangements, employment, postsecondary education, community participation, and other.

In Kentucky, a "Student Career/Transition Plan" is completed for all students (those with disabilities and those without) in the ninth grade and above. A checklist of needed services is composed of 15 items, including additional vocational assessment, career counseling, social skills, community skills, continuing education support, vocational rehabilitation, job placement, employability skills, work-based learning, self-sufficiency, representative postsecondary education, community college/university, employment services, ongoing job support, and other. The plan for students with disabilities includes an additional list of services, such as domestic or community skills instruction, family support, medical needs/therapies, residential services, assistive technology, and case management.

OSEP will continue to develop the PASS system as a resource for States and school districts to use. OSEP will also continue its investigations into other States' model programs in an effort to provide information to adult service providers that will enhance the seamless transition of students with disabilities into the adult world.

8 The discussion below is based only on assessments completed for students exiting the educational system.
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