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Although their engagement and use of school supports have increased over the past decade (2003-2012), high school youth with disabilities are more socioeconomically disadvantaged and less likely to have experiences and expectations associated with success after high school than were other students in 2012.

The evaluation brief released today summarizes important findings from three volumes of a report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012). The report describes the characteristics and in-school experiences of youth with an individualized education program (IEP) in relation to other students without an IEP (Volume I), across the federally defined disability groups (Volume II), and over time (Volume 3). NLTS 2012 is being conducted by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) as part of the congressionally-mandated National Assessment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004, and is the third study in the NLTS series commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education over several decades.

Key findings suggest:

  • Youth with disabilities are more likely than other youth (in 2012) to live in low-income households and with parents receiving federal food benefits. While youth with disabilities are more likely in 2012 than a decade ago to live in households that received federal food benefits, their gender, racial, and ethnic makeup has not changed.
  • Although both youth with and without a disability (in 2012) feel positively about school, those with a disability struggle more academically, participate less in extracurricular activities, and are less likely to receive help from school staff outside of regular hours. Nevertheless, their participation in extracurricular activities and receipt of support services at school have increased over time (2003-2012).
  • Youth with an IEP (in 2012) lag their peers in preparing for college, careers, and independent living, and are less likely than in the past to have paid work experience.
  • Among the disability groups in 2012, youth with intellectual disability, autism, deaf-blindness, multiple disabilities, and orthopedic impairments were found to be most at-risk for not transitioning successfully beyond high school.

Read the brief at

To learn more about this study, visit