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Students with disabilities' outcomes need study, says report

Sept. 16, 2003 -- "Students with disabilities, who now are estimated to represent nearly 10 percent of all college students, currently experience outcomes far inferior to those of their non-disabled peers, despite the fact that research shows that they are more likely to obtain positive professional employment outcomes after degree completion than their peers," says the National Council on Disability in a report issued yesterday.

The group, which said it released its paper in anticipation of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, is, among other things, calling for research to:

  • Document the importance and value of postsecondary education for people with disabilities through close secondary analysis of extant data sets.
  • Determine the current status of people with disabilities in postsecondary education by expanding the National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS).
  • Gather data on a national level in order to acknowledge services and accommodations for postsecondary students with disabilities; to learn about the ways in which student education, accommodations, medical and other services are financed; and to understand the differences in services provided, costs to students, and success rates from state-to-state.
  • Explore the issues that contribute to this current status through a number of effectiveness studies focusing upon specific factors that lead to successful outcomes for students with disabilities.

NCD also wants disability statistics included "in the data collected by the Student Aid Recipient Survey conducted by the Commissioner of Education Statistics, so that analysis of student expenses and ability to repay loans can include this information."

The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, says NCD, "must contain a mandate to conduct a national study that will yield a clearinghouse for the collection, classification, and ongoing dissemination of data regarding the status of people with disabilities in postsecondary education and subsequent professional employment."

Read the report from NCD

Mark Quigley, Director of Communications
National Council on Disability

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