RSA Evaluation Studies
Archived Information

The Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) conducts evaluation studies pursuant of Section 14 of the Rehabilitation Act, which states:

"For the purpose of improving program management and effectiveness, the Secretary, in consultation with the Commissioner, shall evaluate all the programs authorized by this Act, their general effectiveness in relation to their cost, their impact on related programs, and their structure and mechanisms for delivery of services, using appropriate methodology and evaluative research designs. The Secretary shall establish and use standards for the evaluations required by this subsection. Such an evaluation shall be conducted by a person not immediately involved in the administration of the program evaluated."


Longitudinal Study of the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program

The largest single ongoing study was initiated in 1992 and is being conducted by Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International. The study's broad purpose is to assess the performance of the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program in assisting eligible individuals to achieve positive, sustainable economic and non-economic outcomes as a result of their receipt of VR services. This study, which tracks VR participation and post-VR experiences (for up to three years) of approximately 8,500 participants, is designed to answer questions associated with consumers' outcomes; including, for example, what consumer demographic characteristics, attitudes, work histories, functional limitations and services are associated with achievement of employment, earnings, benefits and integration into the community. The study also examines the environments in which services are provided and seeks to identify the affect these environments have on the program outcomes.

To date the study has issued three of four final reports, three interim reports and one special sub-study. The first final report of the Longitudinal Study of the Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program examines the affect that consumer characteristics have on access to, receipt of, and outcomes of the VR Services Program. The second final report focuses on VR services and outcomes including: services and the VR process, receipt of specific VR services, VR services and primary disability, VR Services and vocational goal, and VR services and consumer outcomes. The third final report concentrates on the context of VR services including the local environment and local offices in which VR counselors and other staff arrange for or deliver services to VR consumers, and analyzes the influence of the environment and organizational characteristics of VR offices on the outcomes that VR consumers achieve as a result of VR services.

The final reports are:

  • Final Report 1: How Consumer Characteristics Affect Access to, Receipt of, and Outcomes of VR Services.
    MS Word (2.0M) | PDF (894K)
  • Final Report 2: VR Services and Outcomes.
    MS Word (1.7M) | PDF (938K)
  • Final Report 3: The Context of VR Services.
    MS Word (785K) | PDF (771K)

The interim reports, sub-study and article are:

  • Second Interim Report: Characteristics and Perspectives of VR Consumers.
    MS Word (574K) | PDF (117K)
  • Third Interim Report: Characteristics and Outcomes of Former VR Consumers with an Employment Outcome.
    MS Word (357K) | PDF (133K)
  • Fourth Interim Report: Characteristics and Outcomes of Transitional Youth In Vocational Rehabilitation.
    MS Word (304K) | PDF (117K)
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Experiences Among Individuals Who Experienced a Supported Employment Outcome.
    MS Word (407K) | PDF (117K)
  • "Basic Skills and Labor Market Success: Findings from the Longitudinal Study," American Rehabilitation, Winter 1999/2000, 11-18.
    MS Word (189K) | PDF (52K)


Evaluation of the American Indian Vocational Rehabilitation (AIVRS) Services

In 1999, Development Associates, Inc. received a contract to conduct an evaluation of the AIVRS program. The AIVRS program provides grants to governing bodies of Indian tribes located on federal and state reservations and to consortia of such governing bodies to provide vocational rehabilitation (VR) services to American Indians with disabilities residing on or near such reservations. The study examined the types of consumers served, services provided, and the employment outcomes for AIVRS consumers. The study also described the AIVRS projects' practices, organizational structures and economic and resource environments. Data were collected utilizing a mail survey of the projects and site visits to a statistically representative sample. The study's Executive Summary and Final Report are below:


Evaluation of the Projects With Industry Program

Note: this program is no longer funded

In October 2000, Research Triangle Institute (RTI) initiated an evaluation of the Projects With Industry (PWI) program under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education. The broad purpose of the evaluation was to examine the role and performance of the PWI program as one component of the broader set of employment-related services available to individuals with disabilities, with a particular focus on the extent to which PWI projects fulfilled their intended goal to create and expand job opportunities for individuals with disabilities at the project level. The specific objectives of the study were to:

  • Describe the structure and operations of PWI projects with respect to type of grantee organization, project foci, funding, staffing, types of services provided, and other variables.
  • Describe the relationship of the PWI program to the employment community in terms of BACs, local employers, and WIA entities.
  • Identify the characteristics of individuals served by PWIs in terms of demographic and disability characteristics, types of PWI services received, and employment outcomes obtained.
  • Describe the degree to which there is cooperation and coordination between the PWI and state/federal VR programs, and compare the characteristics and outcomes of PWI participants with those of VR consumers.
  • Identify the degree to which PWI compliance indicators influence project operations and are supported by accurate and reliable data.
  • Describe the extent to which PWI projects vary in how they pursue program purposes and identify how the PWI model might be improved in ways that would enhance its ability to function as a complement to the VR services program.

RTI collected the data needed to address these study objectives through (1) a survey of all PWI projects funded as of October 2000, and (2) on-site data collection at 30 randomly selected PWI projects.

  • Evaluation of the Projects With Industry Program—Final Report.
    MS Word (624K) | PDF (341K)


Evaluation of the Centers for Independent Living Program

Note: this program has transferred to HHS/ACL

This study was initiated in 1999, and it was conducted by CESSI with assistance from WESTAT. This document reports on a national evaluation of federally funded Centers for Independent Living–consumer-directed non-profit agencies providing services and advocacy to individuals with significant disabilities, conducted during the years 2000-2002. Mail surveys of executive directors of federally funded centers and telephone surveys of over 500 randomly selected CIL consumers throughout the country were conducted. According to directors and consumers, CILs are providing independent living services and systems advocacy mandated by law and doing so in accordance with the independent living philosophy. The report presents information on the services consumers received, their satisfaction with those services, and the life changes they felt resulted from center services. CILs are serving a population of poor, ethnically diverse consumers. Consumers said they were largely satisfied with CIL services and that many participated in the center's advocacy activities. They attributed new knowledge and significant life changes to CIL services. There were few differences in the services consumers received or their satisfaction with those services by race, gender, or rural or urban location of the center. The report concludes with recommendations to RSA and CILs to strengthen CIL programs.


Last Modified: 01/26/2017