2017 TASH Conference has ended

Each year, the TASH Conference brings together a diverse community of stakeholders who gain information, learn about resources, and connect with others across the country to strengthen the disability field. This year’s conference theme, “Still We Rise for Equity, Opportunity, and Inclusion,” shows the resilience of individuals with disabilities and their families across the lifespan. Conference attendees will celebrate their passion for disability rights, civil rights, and human rights while exploring inclusive communities, schools, and workplaces that support people with disabilities, including those with complex support needs. Return to TASH website.

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Thursday, December 14 • 9:45am - 10:35am
Diversity in Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities: Who's In, Who's Out? LIMITED

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Limited Capacity seats available

The purpose of this presentation is to disseminate survey data that examines the diversity (or lack thereof) in transition and postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities. Two surveys were developed to examine the recruitment and participation of students from diverse backgrounds with intellectual disabilities in these programs. One of the study objectives is to determine if the representation of individuals from diverse backgrounds in transition and postsecondary programs is commensurate with their representation in the population at large and in the K-12 high school population. Therefore, one of the surveys asks directors to respond to questions about demographics of participant students and program staff and the use of recruitment strategies aimed at students from diverse backgrounds. The second survey was designed for the students in transition and postsecondary programs and enquires about their participation and methods used to retain and recruit them in the program. Postsecondary education programs including vocational/technical schools, two-year community colleges, and four-year universities enable students to continue their education after high school and are becoming a minimum standard for attaining a well-paying job. According to Banks (2014), about 70% of high school graduates go on to postsecondary programs, however only nine percent of students with disabilities attend such programs. Banks (2014) also reports that, of students with disabilities who attend college or university, 72% of freshmen are White, while only nine percent of freshmen with disabilities are Black/African-American. Black/African American students with disabilities are less than half as likely as White students to earn a college degree or certificate (Banks, 2014). With the identified importance of postsecondary education programs, there has been a move towards creating more inclusive postsecondary programs, such as programs designed to include students with intellectual disabilities. The goal of these postsecondary programs is for students to master the skills needed to gain integrated competitive employment. Achieving such employment will give students access to higher wages, health and monetary benefits, inclusive communities and work places, and higher job satisfaction (Grigal et al., 2015). Postsecondary education programs provide students with disabilities the self-sufficiency, self-determination, and social skills training and practice needed to be successfully hired in integrated and competitive places of employment. Programs for college students with intellectual disabilities are becoming increasingly popular with more than 800 students enrolled in programs across the nation (Grigal et al., 2015). Sadly, disproportionality related to students from diverse backgrounds impacts these programs. Even though students from diverse backgrounds are overrepresented in the intellectual disability category in K-12 schools, they are underrepresented in postsecondary education programs. Grigal et al. (2015) reports that "the majority of students were white (73%), 15% were black or African American, and 10% were Hispanic or Latino" (p. 2). Since these numbers mirror the percentages of individuals by race/ethnicity in the general population, the disproportional representation of students from diverse backgrounds may not seem that extreme. However, when the data is disaggregated by state, the disproportionality becomes more obvious, especially in states that have a diverse population. For example, in Florida, the most recent data report students from diverse backgrounds comprise more than 50% of K-12 students. However, the percentage of students from diverse backgrounds in Broward County, FL is 74.3%. Based on these percentages, we should expect Florida postsecondary transition programs to have higher percentages of students from diverse backgrounds. The purpose of this study is to determine if that really is the case nationally. We suspect not. The data (i.e., 73% white, 15% black or African American and 10% Hispanic or Latino) reported by Grigal et al. (2015) increases the likelihood we are correct in our suspicions. This leads to the question we are asking in our research. Why are there not more students from diverse backgrounds enrolling and participating in these beneficial, and potentially fully funded, programs? This study seeks answers to this question and to emphasize the need for these programs to create recruitment and retention processes that ensure "equity, opportunity, and inclusion" of students from diverse backgrounds, consistent with the TASH 2017 theme.


Brianna Joseph

Visiting Instructor, Florida Atlantic University
avatar for Kelly Kearney

Kelly Kearney

Florida Atlantic University
People can talk to me about:Inclusive educationMicroenterprisesBehavior analysis

Thursday December 14, 2017 9:45am - 10:35am EST
M302 265 Peachtree Center Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30303