A Public School-Sponsored Program for Students Ages 18 to 21 with Significant Disabilities Located on a Community College Campus: A Case Study
Redd, Vanessa Alvarez
Neubert, Debra A
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Since the early 1990's there is a growing interest in providing inclusive age-appropriate experiences to students who are ages 18 to 21, with significant disabilities, and are still enrolled in public schools. These efforts have resulted in local school systems (LSS) developing programs and services that are located in the community and on college campuses. Although there is a body of literature on postsecondary opportunities for these students, little is known about the programs and supports provided, or the views of consumers. In an effort to extend the literature, a case-study approach was used to gather information on a program located in a community college. Observations, individual interviews, focus groups, and document reviews were used to address the following: (a) What criteria (i.e., rationale for development, allocation of resources, staffing decisions, admission into program, factors that facilitate or act as barriers to program development and sustainability) are employed in the development and implementation of a public school-sponsored program for students ages 18 to 21 with SD within a community college campus?; (b) What program components described in the literature as best practices for secondary students with significant disabilities are incorporated in this public school-sponsored program located on a community college campus?; and (c) What are the students' and parents' views on the role of this public school-sponsored postsecondary program for students with SD ages 18 to 21 in preparing students for the future? Software designed for use in qualitative research was used to sort and code information, and data were triangulated across methods, informants, and analysts. Findings suggest that although the LSS developed and operated the program on a community college campus, students received segregated instruction (e.g., functional academics, social skills, independent living skills) and students had limited interactions with typical college students and limited opportunities for self-determination. However, students and parents were satisfied with the program, and students who exited the program experienced no disruption in services during the transition into the adult services system. Implications for future practice and research, and limitations of the study are discussed.