Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Teaching and Learning

Committee Chair

Simmons, Thomas J.

Author's Keywords

Special education; Mild disabilities; Transition; Employment; Learning disabilities; Postsecondary education; Transition intervention


Children with disabilities--Education (Secondary)


The process of transition from high school to adult life is particularly important for students with mild disabilities because these students show a pattern of overwhelmingly low expectations and progress. Transition services, self-determination, and focus on outcomes are essential to improve success. Curriculum designed around the interests and abilities of the student, with assistance to meet goals through a coordinated set of activities, academics, work experiences, and personal insight is essential. The STEP Grant supported students with mild disabilities in collaboration with the University of Louisville and a metropolitan school district in Kentucky. Helping students obtain their high school diplomas was emphasized. Students were involved in planning, personality development, work experiences, and connections to adult services. This dissertation constitutes program evaluation of this transition intervention follow-up program for high school students with mild disabilities (N = 50). Data were obtained from district archival records for IEPs, Transition Plans, grades, personality testing (Self-efficacy and Locus of Control), and a STEP Grant Student Follow-up Survey. The quantitative or qualitative methods were specified for each different research question. Procedures included descriptive statistics, reliability calculations for the personality measures, ANOVA, correlation, chi-square, semipartial correlations, and qualitative analysis of student comments. Important findings included (a) many IEPs lacked Transition Plans; (b) 46 of 50 students met STEP criteria for success and 100% graduated from high school; (c) the personality measures were generally not reliable for this sample of low-socioeconomic status students with mild disabilities; (d) vocational plans, training/education, and jobs generally did not match; (e) wages were negatively related to LD (as opposed to MMD and BD categories) and attendance. However, results must be viewed with caution because there is no way of ensuring that participants were similar to the other 58 students who did not return surveys. Compared to students with mild disabilities who generally do not fare well with respect to transition outcomes, the students in this STEP Grant did manage to stay in school. Yet more detailed analyses indicated that this "success" was belied by the reality that most were in low-wage, low-status service jobs.