Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Special Education, Early Childhood & Prevention Science

Degree Program

Curriculum and Instruction, PhD

Committee Chair

Bauder, Debra

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Simmons, Thomas

Committee Member

Simmons, Thomas

Committee Member

Immekus, Jason

Committee Member

Whitney, Jeremy Todd

Committee Member

Walte, Samantha

Author's Keywords

Transition; indicator 14; special education; intellectual disabilities; autism; job satisfaction


Even though there have been decades of research, practice, and legislative efforts in the field of secondary transition, it is believed that students with disabilities are still less likely to enroll in postsecondary education or training, secure competitive employment, and live independently than their nondisabled peers. One of the reasons for this might be the lack of understanding students’ perceptions of employment opportunities. Much of the early vocational legislation focused on the needs of adult workers injured during a war or in civil employment. The last iteration of the Rehabilitation Act in the 1990s described disabilities, even the most significant disabilities, as part of the human experience and focused on the rights of individuals with disabilities (IWD) to be contributing members of society (Flexer et al., 2013; Johnson, 2012). The Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975, later renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1990, paved the way for students with disabilities to access a free and appropriate public education. IDEA went further in 2002 to include language and compliance indicators around the need for postsecondary transition planning, and reporting outcomes. IDEA required all students with disabilities in 8th grade or over the age of 14 to have Individual Education Programs (IEP) that address transition outcomes, including a multi-year course of study that helps the student in achieving their postsecondary goals. Based on the literature regarding what constitutes a successful postsecondary transition for IWD there is a paucity of evidence regarding students’ beliefs about what constitutes successful transitions. Based on this lack of information, more research is needed to explore the relationship between high school transitions and postsecondary outcomes on individuals with intellectual disabilities. The purpose of this study was to identify the relationship between disability category, manner of exiting high school, and employment type on job satisfaction for students with intellectual disabilities. Specifically, this study focused on students with intellectual disabilities, including individuals with autism, mild mental disability, and functional mental disability. The Youth One Year Out Survey data, from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, was analyzed using a linear multiple regression model to examine the relationships between disability category, manner of exiting high school, and employment status, on job satisfaction for IDW. The findings of this study reveal that there are no differences in job satisfaction based on disability category or type of high school exit, one year after exiting high school. However, IWD that are involved in competitive employment do report higher rates of job satisfaction.