Project Co-Directors: Bill East and Mabrey Whetsone
Project Period: October 1, 1995 - September 30, 1996
The Alabama Department of Education will conduct a study to evaluate the feasibility of implementing a statewide student tracking system for Alabama's secondary students and young adults with disabilities. Since the early 1980s, the assessment of postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities has been a growing national issue. A 1989 report by the National Council on Disability stated that rather than only examining the processes and procedures for assuring access to a public education, serious attention should be directed to assessing the nature and quality of the students' postsecondary outcomes. In other words, the issue not only is transition services themselves and whether or not the students receive them as needed, but also their effectiveness in terms of the students' outcome performance. In order to assess outcome performance, student tracking systems that provide data on those outcomes are needed. The Alabama Transition Task Force found that the need for a student tracking system continues to be critical in the State.
The major goals of this study are to test the feasibility of developing a student tracking system that would: improve the transition planning process and related service programs at the local level; serve as an accountability index for the State department regarding the performance (in-school and post-school) of its youth and young adults with disabilities; and create bridges between the data collection systems currently being utilized by a variety of agencies. The project objectives are described below.
The feasibility study will collect information on students with disabilities who are 17 years of age, and on postsecondary students with disabilities who exited during the 1994-95 school year. The sample will be drawn from high schools in Lee and Jefferson counties. Alabama's Post-School Indicators Follow-Up Questionnaire will be administered to a sample of postsecondary students with disabilities who exited school during the 1994-95 school year. A parallel form of the instrument will also be developed and administered to a sample of secondary students with disabilities who are 17 years of age. Teachers will be trained to administer the questionnaires.
The findings of this study will enable the Alabama SEA to determine the usefulness of the student tracking system for the purposes of transition planning at the local level, and as an accountability index for the State department regarding the performances of its youth and young adults with disabilities. The findings will also enable the Task Force to make policy recommendations regarding the statewide adoption of the tracking system.