oversight

Special Education: Federal Actions Can Assist States in Improving Postsecondary Outcomes for Youth

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2003-07-30.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

             United States General Accounting Office

GAO          Report to the Ranking Minority
             Member, Committee on Health,
             Education, Labor and Pensions,
             U.S. Senate

July 2003
             SPECIAL
             EDUCATION
             Federal Actions Can
             Assist States in
             Improving
             Postsecondary
             Outcomes for Youth




GAO-03-773
                                                July 2003


                                                SPECIAL EDUCATION

                                                Federal Actions Can Assist States in
Highlights of GAO-03-773, a report to the       Improving Postsecondary Outcomes for
Ranking Minority Member, Committee on
Health, Education, Labor and Pensions,          Youth
U.S. Senate




States receive federal funds under              Of all IDEA youth who left high school during the 2000-01 school year, 57
the Individuals with Disabilities               percent received a standard diploma and an additional 11 percent received
Education Act (IDEA) to help                    an alternative credential. High school completion patterns of IDEA youth
students with disabilities reach                have remained stable over recent years despite concerns that states’
their postsecondary goals, and                  increasing use of exit examinations would result in higher dropout rates.
various federal programs offer
services that can assist these youth.
                                                Students with some types of disabilities were much less likely, however, to
However, research has                           complete high school with a standard diploma, receiving an alternative
documented that youth with                      credential or dropping out instead. IDEA youth without a diploma have some
disabilities are less likely to                 options for entering employment or postsecondary education, but national
transition into postsecondary                   data on their post-school status are over a decade old. Twenty-one states
education and employment.                       routinely track students’ post-school status, but these data have some
Congress requested that GAO                     limitations. While most states used post-school data for program
provide information on (1) the                  improvement purposes such as monitoring service delivery, some officials
proportion of IDEA students                     indicated that guidance was needed on how to best collect and use these
completing high school with a                   data.
diploma or alternative credentials,
and their postsecondary status;
(2) the transition problems being
                                                A variety of transition problems, such as lack of vocational training and poor
reported and state and local                    linkages between schools and service providers, have been consistently
actions to address them; and                    reported by students, parents, and others. While state and local educational
(3) the types of transition services            agencies have taken actions to address some of the problems, other
provided by the vocational                      problems such as lack of transportation are less likely to be addressed at the
rehabilitation, the Workforce                   state level. While state Directors of Special Education reported being
Investment Act youth, and the                   generally satisfied with assistance provided to them by the Department of
Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency             Education in addressing transition issues, some expressed concerns about
programs, and the factors affecting             the timeliness of the federal feedback on their state improvement plans and
participation of IDEA youth.                    inconsistency in the quality of technical assistance provided by the six
                                                federal Regional Resource Centers.

GAO recommends that the                         The vocational rehabilitation (VR) program, the Workforce Investment Act
Department of Education                         youth program (WIA), and the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency (Ticket)
(1) gather and provide states with              program all offer an array of employment and education-related services that
information on sound strategies to              can aid some IDEA youth. However, several factors may impede
collect and use postsecondary data,             participation by the IDEA populations that are eligible for services. The lack
(2) develop a plan to provide states            of participation may be explained in part by the insufficient capacity of the
with timely feedback and                        VR and WIA programs to serve eligible populations requesting services, and
consistent quality of technical
                                                potential concerns of Ticket participants about losing public assistance
assistance, and (3) coordinate with
other federal agencies to provide               because of employment income. A general lack of awareness by youth and
IDEA students and their families                families of these programs may also limit participation.
with information on federally
funded transition services.


www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-03-773.

To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact David Bellis at
(415) 904-2272 or bellisd@gao.gov.
Contents


Letter                                                                                   1
               Results in Brief                                                          3
               Background                                                                5
               A Majority of IDEA Youth Complete High School, but Data on
                 Transitions Are Limited                                                 8
               Problems Impeding Transition of IDEA Youth into Postsecondary
                 Education and Employment Remain Partially Addressed                   17
               The VR, WIA, and Ticket Programs Provide Transition Services, but
                 Several Factors May Limit the Number of IDEA Youth Who Use
                 Them                                                                  25
               Conclusions                                                             32
               Recommendations for Executive Action                                    33
               Agency Comments and Our Evaluation                                      33

Appendix I     Scope and Methodology                                                    36
               Survey                                                                  36
               State Telephone Interviews and Analysis of State Data                   36
               Site Visits                                                             37
               Review of National Studies on Transition                                38
               Analysis of Existing Data                                               38

Appendix II    State Data Collection Efforts                                            40



Appendix III   State Waiting Lists for Vocational Rehabilitation
               Services in Fiscal Year 2001                                             49



Appendix IV    Youth Eligible to Participate in the Ticket Program
               as of June 2003                                                          50



Appendix V     Availability of Medicaid Buy-In to Working People
               with Disabilities as of May 2003                                         52




               Page i                                         GAO-03-773 Special Education
Appendix VI     Comments from the Department of Education                                53



Appendix VII    Comments from the Department of Labor                                    55



Appendix VIII   Comments from the Social Security Administration                         58



Appendix IX     GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments                                   60
                GAO Contacts                                                            60
                Staff Acknowledgments                                                   60


Tables
                Table 1: High School Completion and Dropout Rates by Disability
                         Type, 2000-01 School Year                                        9
                Table 2: Problems Reported by Stakeholders in the Transition
                         Process                                                        18
                Table 3: Education’s Response Time as of March 26, 2003, to States
                         Submitting Improvement Plans in 2002                           23
                Table 4: All Youth Ages 14 to 21 Served by Selected Federal
                         Programs                                                       27
                Table 5: Selected Services Provided to Youth through the VR
                         Program in Fiscal Year 2001                                    28
                Table 6: Selected Services Provided through WIA in Program Year
                         2001                                                           28
                Table 7: Site Visit States and Local School Systems                     37
                Table 8: State Approaches to Collecting Data on Postsecondary
                         Employment and Education Status of IDEA Youth                  40
                Table 9: State Methods of Collecting Data on Postsecondary
                         Employment and Education Status of IDEA Youth                  43
                Table 10: State Examples of Using Postsecondary Employment and
                         Education Status Data                                          47




                Page ii                                        GAO-03-773 Special Education
Figures
          Figure 1: Disability Characteristics of IDEA Youth Leaving High
                   School in School Year 2000-01                                                     6
          Figure 2: Completion and Dropout Rates for IDEA Students from
                   1997-98 to 2000-01 School Years                                                  11
          Figure 3: States That Collect Data on IDEA Youth Leaving High
                   School                                                                           14
          Figure 4: Types of Postsecondary Employment and Education Data
                   Available in States                                                              46




          Abbreviations

          ADA               Americans with Disabilities Act
          IDEA              Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
          IEP               individualized education program
          NCES              National Center for Education Statistics
          NLTS              National Longitudinal Transition Study
          NLTS2             National Longitudinal Transition Study-2
          OSEP              Office of Special Education Programs
          RSA               Rehabilitation Services Administration
          SIG               State Improvement Grant
          SLIDEA            Study of State and Local Implementation and Impact of the
                             Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
          SPeNSE            the Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education
          SSA               Social Security Administration
          SSDI              Social Security Disability Insurance
          SSI               Supplemental Security Income
          VR                vocational rehabilitation
          WIA               Workforce Investment Act youth program



          This is a work of the U.S. Government and is not subject to copyright protection in the
          United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in its entirety without further
          permission from GAO. It may contain copyrighted graphics, images or other materials.
          Permission from the copyright holder may be necessary should you wish to reproduce
          copyrighted materials separately from GAO’s product.




          Page iii                                                   GAO-03-773 Special Education
United States General Accounting Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   July 31, 2003

                                   The Honorable Edward M. Kennedy
                                   Ranking Minority Member
                                   Committee on Health, Education,
                                    Labor and Pensions
                                   United States Senate

                                   Dear Senator Kennedy:

                                   In 2003, states received nearly $9 billion for assuring that over 6 million
                                   children and youth identified as having a disability received a free
                                   appropriate public education, as required by the Individuals with
                                   Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).1 Most youth had been identified as
                                   having learning disabilities such as dyslexia, with a smaller number having
                                   some type of emotional, mental, or physical impairment. Research has
                                   documented that youth with disabilities—especially those with some types
                                   of disabilities such as emotional disturbances—are less likely to transition
                                   into postsecondary education and employment once they leave high
                                   school. In the 1997 Amendments to IDEA, Congress required greater state
                                   and local accountability for improving graduation rates and postsecondary
                                   results for youth with disabilities. The law directed state education
                                   agencies to include youth with disabilities in statewide achievement
                                   assessments, and to begin including a statement of the transition service
                                   needs in students’ individualized education program (IEP) at age 14, in
                                   addition to age 16. The Department of Education (Education) monitors
                                   states’ compliance with these requirements, as well as provides technical
                                   assistance to enhance state and local capacity to improve graduation rates
                                   and the postsecondary employment and education status for youth with
                                   disabilities. In addition, other federal agencies fund programs that can
                                   assist youth with disabilities during their transition into the adult world.

                                   In an effort to better ensure that all students have the necessary academic
                                   preparation to successfully pursue postsecondary education or
                                   employment, many states are now requiring that students pass exit
                                   examinations to graduate from high school with a diploma. However,



                                   1
                                    The data on the number of children covered under IDEA are for the 2001-02 school year,
                                   the latest year for which data are available.



                                   Page 1                                                    GAO-03-773 Special Education
concerns have been raised that states’ use of exit examinations will result
in higher dropout rates for youth with disabilities or issuing alternative
credentials2 in lieu of diplomas that may limit youths’ options for
postsecondary education and employment. While federally funded
transition services are available to help youth with disabilities pursue
postsecondary options, there are also concerns that many may not be
using these services. To address these concerns, you asked that we
provide information on: (1) the proportion of IDEA students completing
high school with a diploma or alternative credentials, and what is known
about their postsecondary education and employment outcomes; (2) the
types of transition problems that have been reported and actions taken by
state and local education agencies to address them; and (3) the types of
transition services provided by the vocational rehabilitation (VR) program,
the Workforce Investment Act youth program (WIA), and the Ticket to
Work and Self-Sufficiency (Ticket) program, and the factors affecting the
number of IDEA youth using them.

To provide this information, we administered and analyzed results from a
survey to 50 state Directors of Special Education, as well as conducted
phone interviews with state officials in the 21 states that reported
routinely collecting data on IDEA students’ postsecondary outcomes. We
also visited 3 states and 6 school districts where we met with state and
local officials, school administrators, teachers, parents, IDEA students,
and service providers.3 In addition, we synthesized the findings of
nationally available studies on IDEA students’ transition experiences,
interviewed federal officials responsible for programs that can assist
students during transition, and analyzed program data from federal
agencies administering these programs. Appendix I explains our
methodology in more detail.

We performed our work in accordance with generally accepted
government auditing standards between June 2002 and June 2003.




2
 Alternative credentials may be issued based on various criteria, including completion of an
IEP, attendance, or occupational skill attainment.
3
 We conducted fieldwork in New York, Alabama, and California. We selected these states
to obtain a mix based on differences in geographic location, the size of the IDEA
population in the state, high school completion patterns, exit examination policies for
IDEA youth, postsecondary data collection efforts, and state monitoring processes, as well
as recommendations of experts in transition.




Page 2                                                      GAO-03-773 Special Education
                   State data reported by Education show that in the 2000-01 school year,
Results in Brief   about 70 percent of IDEA students completed high school with either a
                   standard diploma or an alternative credential. However, completion rates
                   ranged from 45 percent to 83 percent depending on disability type. The
                   high school completion rate was the lowest for youth with emotional
                   disturbances and the highest for youth with impairments affecting hearing
                   or eyesight. Despite concerns that states’ increasing use of exit
                   examinations would result in more IDEA youth dropping out of high
                   school, high school completion patterns have remained fairly stable,
                   perhaps in part, because states have generally offered alternative routes to
                   high school completion for youth with disabilities. However, what happens
                   to IDEA youth after they leave high school is difficult to determine. Less
                   than half of the states routinely collect data on students’ employment or
                   education status after graduation, and existing data collection efforts have
                   limitations. Despite limitations of individual states’ efforts, state studies
                   taken together show that IDEA youth were much more likely to enter
                   employment than postsecondary education or training programs. In
                   Wisconsin, for example, 80 percent of IDEA youth reported being
                   employed and 47 percent reported attending some type of postsecondary
                   education institution 1 year out of high school.4 While most state officials
                   reported using data on IDEA youth postsecondary status for purposes
                   such as monitoring service delivery or targeting schools for technical
                   assistance, some officials indicated that guidance was needed on how to
                   best collect and use these data. Education officials in 2 states, for
                   example, were unsure whether their survey questions were appropriate to
                   obtain the best information on outcomes, while another state official had
                   concerns that local school systems did not have the expertise to use such
                   data to improve transition outcomes for IDEA youth.

                   During our site visits, students, parents, teachers, and others consistently
                   reported a variety of problems that impede youth transition to
                   postsecondary education and employment, including poor linkages
                   between schools and youth service providers and a lack of community
                   work experience while in high school. States and local education agencies
                   have taken various steps to address some of the problems, including hiring
                   transition coordinators and offering work preparation experiences, such
                   as job shadowing opportunities. Some schools, however, have not yet
                   benefited from these efforts and continue to experience problems. For



                   4
                    Percentages do not add to 100 since some youth were both employed and in
                   postsecondary school.




                   Page 3                                                  GAO-03-773 Special Education
example, a number of schools still rely on special education teachers to
develop linkages with community service providers according to the Study
of State and Local Implementation and Impact of the Individuals with
Disabilities Education Act (SLIIDEA), although teachers indicated during
our site visits that they often do not have the time or training to do so.
Further, while research has shown work experience and vocational
education to be a significant factor in obtaining postsecondary
employment with higher earnings, findings from the National Longitudinal
Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) show that 60 percent of IDEA youth had paid
work experience and about 24 percent received vocational services. Our
survey of state Directors of Special Education shows that states have
developed action plans to increase services such as vocational training,
and community work experience for IDEA youth. Other significant
problems, however, are less likely to be addressed because they are not
considered by state officials to be within the purview of the education
system. For example, the 3 states we visited did not include transportation
problems for IDEA youth in their state improvement plans, although it was
one of the most cited problems by parents and school and state officials.
Education provides some assistance to states in their efforts to address
transition problems, and most state Directors of Special Education found
this assistance useful. For example, states can use Education’s Continuous
Improvement Monitoring Process to obtain feedback on state
improvement plans for addressing transition problems, and obtain related
technical assistance from Education’s Regional Resource Centers for
Special Education (Regional Resource Centers). State officials expressed
some concerns, however, about the timeliness of Education’s feedback on
their state plans and some inconsistency in the quality of assistance
provided by the Regional Resource Centers.

The VR, WIA, and Ticket programs all provide similar and complementary
services that can ease youth transition from high school to postsecondary
education and employment, but several factors may affect how many
IDEA youth use them. Services include tutoring and study skills training,
job coaching and placement, as well as necessary support services such as
transportation and counseling. However, IDEA youth are not
automatically eligible for these services. For example, available data
suggest that about 29 percent of IDEA youth meet Workforce Investment
Act’s low-income requirement, and about 13 percent of IDEA youth meet
Ticket’s age and benefit requirements. While not all IDEA youth eligible
for VR, WIA, or Ticket services may need or want to use them, several
factors may impede those that do. For example, WIA officials from states
we visited said that workforce centers often do not have the expertise to
serve youth with disabilities, and may refer these youth to VR; Education


Page 4                                          GAO-03-773 Special Education
             officials report that a number of states currently have waiting lists for VR
             services. The most recent data available from fiscal year 2001 show that
             VR agencies in 25 states had waiting lists for its services that may defer
             access for transitioning youth. Further, youth may not access services
             because they are concerned about losing access to public assistance, or
             are unaware that these federal resources exist. For example, while all
             youth aged 18 or older that qualify for Social Security disability benefits
             are eligible for transition services under the Ticket program, less than
             1 percent participate, in part, due to concerns that employment income
             may jeopardize their eligibility for other federal and state services such as
             health insurance and subsidized housing according to parents and service
             providers we spoke with. Finally, students, parents, and teachers who are
             responsible for identifying transition service needs were generally
             unaware of the universe of available federal transition services and how to
             access them in the states we visited. While most people we talked with
             were aware of VR services, many were unaware of the Ticket program,
             and knowledge of the Workforce Investment Act assistance centers varied
             widely, even though these programs all serve overlapping populations.

             We are making recommendations to Education to help state and local
             education agencies improve transition outcomes for IDEA youth by
             disseminating information on best practices for collecting and using data
             on their postsecondary status, providing more timely and consistent
             services to states seeking assistance, and identifying strategies for
             informing students and families about federal transition resources.


             States that receive IDEA funding must comply with certain requirements
Background   for special education and related services. These requirements include the
             development of an IEP that spells out the specific special education,
             related services, and supplementary aids and services to be provided to
             each student based on the student’s needs, including transition services
             designed to help the student obtain the skills and experiences to reach
             desired postsecondary goals.

             During the 2000-01 school year, over 300,000 IDEA youth left high school.5
             Most youth had been identified as having learning disabilities such as




             5
              This includes those students that graduated with a diploma or alternative credential,
             dropped out, died, or aged out.




             Page 5                                                      GAO-03-773 Special Education
dyslexia, with a smaller number having some type of emotional, mental, or
physical impairment, as shown in figure 1.

Figure 1: Disability Characteristics of IDEA Youth Leaving High School in School
Year 2000-01

                                                                   Emotional disturbances
                                                                   Other




                  12%

        13%
                                        61%                        Learning disabilities

         14%




                                                                   Mental retardation
Source: GAO analysis of data from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Note: Disability types included in the “other” category are speech or language impairments, multiple
disabilities, hearing impairments, orthopedic impairments, visual impairments, autism, deaf-blindness,
traumatic brain injury, and other health impairments. They have been combined into a single category
because each of these disability groups represents less than 10 percent of IDEA youth population
leaving high school.


In an effort to raise expectations for IDEA youth and to make school
systems accountable for their performance, IDEA Amendments of 1997
required that these students be included in state and district assessments,
to the extent possible. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 also required
school systems to establish annual assessments in order to demonstrate
that all students, including those with disabilities, made academic
progress. Although federal law does not mandate that school systems tie
assessment results to graduation with a standard diploma, current law
does provide states with the flexibility to implement exit examination
policies that would require students to pass an exit examination in order
to graduate with a diploma.

Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) provides a
number of resources to assist state and local education agencies in serving



Page 6                                                                               GAO-03-773 Special Education
children and youth with disabilities. One such resource is OSEP’s
Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process, whereby OSEP provides
feedback to state education officials on state improvement plans they
develop to address problems providing education and transition services
to IDEA youth at the state and local level. Another resource is Education’s
six Regional Resource Centers for Special Education through which OSEP
facilitates networking and information sharing among states, and helps
state and local areas improve education programs by providing technical
assistance, consultation, and training.

In addition, the federal government funds other services that may offer
assistance to IDEA youth during their transition from high school into
postsecondary education or employment through programs administered
by agencies such as Education, the Department of Labor (Labor), and the
Social Security Administration (SSA).

The Department of Education. Education’s Rehabilitation Services
Administration provides funds to state VR agencies to help persons with
disabilities prepare for and engage in gainful employment. The regulations
implementing the Rehabilitation Act require state VR programs to develop
an individualized plan for employment for students eligible for vocational
rehabilitation services before they leave school. Furthermore, for a
student with a disability who is receiving special education services, this
plan must be coordinated with the student’s IEP in terms of goals,
objectives, and services.

The Department of Labor. Labor’s Employment and Training
Administration oversees the implementation of the Workforce Investment
Act of 1998. The Workforce Investment Act promotes partnerships among
diverse programs and community representatives, including educational
institutions. For all youth, who are between 14 and 21 years of age, WIA
includes provisions for preparing them for the transition from high school
to employment and postsecondary education that may interrelate to the
transition requirements under IDEA.

The Social Security Administration. SSA implements the Ticket
program, established under the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives
Improvement Act of 1999. The goal of the Ticket program is to enable
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) beneficiaries and disabled or
blind Supplemental Security Income (SSI) beneficiaries, who are between




Page 7                                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
                           18 and 64 years of age, to obtain the services necessary to find, enter, and
                           retain employment.6


                           During the 2000-01 school year, almost 70 percent of IDEA youth
A Majority of IDEA         completed high school with a standard diploma or an alternative
Youth Complete High        credential.7 Completion rates for IDEA youth remained stable over recent
                           years despite concerns that states’ increasing use of high school exit
School, but Data on        examinations would result in higher dropout rates. IDEA youth who leave
Transitions Are            high school without a standard diploma have some options for entering
                           employment or postsecondary education, but national data on their
Limited                    postsecondary status are over a decade old. Nearly half of the states
                           routinely collect such data, but states’ data collection systems are subject
                           to a number of limitations. Most states used these data for purposes such
                           as monitoring or improving programs that serve IDEA youth, but several
                           officials involved with state data collection efforts had concerns about
                           whether states were employing the best approaches to collecting and
                           using these data.


A Majority of IDEA Youth   During the 2000-01 school year, 57 percent of IDEA youth completed high
Complete High School       school with a standard diploma and an additional 11 percent completed
with a Diploma, but        high school with an alternative credential. Students with some types of
                           disabilities were much less likely to complete high school with a standard
Differences Exist among    diploma, receiving alternative credentials or dropping out instead. (See
Disability Types           table 1.) For example, in 2000-01, about 28 percent of high school
                           graduates with mental retardation received an alternative credential
                           instead of a diploma, compared with about 11 percent for the overall
                           population of IDEA youth. Dropout rates for youth with emotional
                           disturbances were generally more than twice as high as for youth with
                           other disabilities; more than half of these students dropped out during the
                           2000-01 school year compared with about one-fourth or less of their peers
                           with other disability types.



                           6
                            SSDI is provided to workers who become disabled for as long as they cannot work due to
                           their medical condition, and the amount of the benefit is based on past earnings. SSI is
                           provided to individuals who can demonstrate financial need and have a disability affecting
                           their ability to participate in any substantial gainful activity, whether or not they have
                           worked in the past.
                           7
                            An OSEP official said that students leaving high school without a standard diploma are
                           still eligible to receive special education services until they receive a diploma or age out.




                           Page 8                                                        GAO-03-773 Special Education
Table 1: High School Completion and Dropout Rates by Disability Type, 2000-01
School Year

                                                           Completion rate
                                                                                                Total
                                                                   Alternative             completion
 Disability                                    Diploma              credential                   rate Dropout rate
 All IDEA students                                      57                      11                     68       29
 Emotional
 disturbances                                           39                        6                    45       53
 Learning disabilities                                  64                        8                    71       27
 Mental retardation                                     40                      28                     68       25
 Other cognitive
 disabilities                                           57                      20                     77       13
 Speech/language
 impairments                                            64                        8                    72       26
 Orthopedic
 impairments                                            64                      11                     76       18
 Sensory impairments                                    69                      14                     83       14
 Other health
 impairments                                            68                        7                    75       23
 Multiple disabilities                                  48                      20                     68       17
Source: GAO analysis of data from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.

Notes: Total completion rate may not equal the sum of diploma and alternative credential rates
because of rounding errors.

Total completion and dropout rates do not add to 100 because a small percentage of students aged
out of high school or died.


We found no data source that could be used to compare high school
completion rates for IDEA and general education students. The National
Center for Education Statistics (NCES) had data from 33 states on all
youth who completed high school during the 1999-2000 school year, as
well as data from 36 states and the District of Columbia on all youth who
dropped out during that year. These data show that among the 33 states,
high school completion rates for all youth ranged from about 63 percent to




Page 9                                                                                GAO-03-773 Special Education
                             89 percent. Among 37 states, dropout rates ranged from about 3 percent to
                             9 percent.8


Graduation Rates             Completion and dropout rates for IDEA youth remained stable between
Remained Stable Despite      the 1997-98 and 2000-01 school years. As figure 2 illustrates, the rate of
States’ Use of High School   IDEA students graduating from high school over that time period with a
                             standard diploma or completing high school with an alternative credential
Exit Examinations            fluctuated between 67 percent and 69 percent, while the dropout rate
                             remained at 29 percent in the latter 3 school years.




                             8
                              Officials from OSEP and NCES cautioned that there are large differences in the
                             methodologies used by the two entities to calculate students’ completion and dropout
                             rates. For example, OSEP’s rate is based on the total number of students who left high
                             school in a given year, while NCES’ s rate is based on the total number of students enrolled
                             in grades 9 through 12 in a given year. In addition, NCES did not provide national totals for
                             completion or dropout rates because not all states reported the number of dropouts to
                             NCES.




                             Page 10                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
Figure 2: Completion and Dropout Rates for IDEA Students from 1997-98 to 2000-01
School Years

Percent
70


60                                  58                                              57
         56                                                  56


50


40

                      31
                                                29                        29                      29
30


20

              11                         11                        11                      11
10


    0
           1997-1998                 1998-1999                 1999-2000               2000-2001
        School year


                 Diploma rate

                 Certificate rate

                 Dropout rate

    Source: GAO analysis of data from the Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.


Completion and dropout rates among IDEA youth remained stable despite
states’ increasing use of exit examinations for students to graduate from
high school with a standard diploma. While states’ use of exit
examinations addressed concerns over whether students obtaining a
diploma are able to demonstrate evidence of academic achievement, it
also generated concerns that dropout rates will rise among youth unable
to pass such examinations, particularly among youth with disabilities. A
study of 1998-99 completion and dropout rates sponsored by Education
did not show higher dropout rates in states with exit examinations, or
among the various disability groups.9 We updated that analysis using



9
 Berry, Hugh and William Halloran, Graduation Exam Requirements and Students with
Disabilities: A Correlational Study of Disability, Race, and Outcomes (Washington, D.C:
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services,
February 2003).




Page 11                                                                               GAO-03-773 Special Education
                            states’ completion and dropout rates from the 2000-01 school year, and
                            found similar results.10

                            Despite these study results, the effect of exit examinations on IDEA
                            graduation rates has not been fully tested because most states have been
                            providing IDEA youth with different options, such as exempting them
                            from the examinations, modifying the examinations to various extents, or
                            offering alternative exit credentials that do not require students to pass the
                            exit examinations.11 For example, IDEA students in Georgia can petition
                            for an exemption from the state’s exit examination and still receive a
                            diploma. New York allows students with disabilities who are unable to
                            pass state’s exit examinations to take a modified and less rigorous version.
                            Other modifications available to IDEA youth in some states include using
                            different scoring criteria or allowing IDEA students to retake the
                            examination. In addition, more than half of the states with exit
                            examinations also offered alternative credentials. For example, Alabama
                            allows IDEA students to obtain an occupational diploma based on
                            completion of courses incorporating certain career and technical
                            education standards, such as Consumer Mathematics and Employment
                            English in lieu of traditional Mathematics and English. A state official from
                            Alabama stated that offering such alternative credentials assists the state
                            in raising academic standards for all students without increasing IDEA
                            youth’s dropout rate.


IDEA Youth Transitioning    IDEA youth completing high school with alternative credentials or
from High School without    dropping out do have some opportunities to immediately enter
Standard Diplomas Have      employment. State and local officials, as well as employer representatives
                            in states we visited, indicated that some employers place higher value on
Some Options for Entering   the prospective applicant’s job skills, such as willingness to learn and
Employment or               ability to interact with others, than on a specific graduation document. For
Postsecondary Education     example, New York officials from the State Workforce Investment Board



                            10
                             We updated Education’s analysis for all IDEA students, but not for individual disability
                            groups.
                            11
                              Education’s analysis of 1998-99 completion rates showed that the percentage of IDEA
                            youth receiving a certificate in states with exit examination requirements was
                            approximately 16 percent, compared with about 6 percent for states without such
                            requirements. We updated that analysis for the 2000-01 school year and found that about
                            14 percent of IDEA youth in states that have implemented the exit examination
                            requirement received a certificate compared with about 9 percent of IDEA youth in states
                            that did not have such requirement or have not fully implemented it.




                            Page 12                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
                           and a local Employment and Training Center said that employers would be
                           willing to hire youth with disabilities without a standard diploma and
                           provide job related training as long as they had the necessary
                           communication skills and basic work ethic.

                           Options for pursuing postsecondary education include programs focusing
                           on vocational education and skills training, as well as academic programs.
                           In California, for example, IDEA youth can enter Regional Occupational
                           Programs that lead to vocational certificates in a wide range of fields.
                           While high school diplomas may not be necessary for such programs,
                           other prerequisites, such as entrance examinations, may be required.
                           Community colleges are another option for youth wishing to pursue a
                           college degree. In many states, community colleges have an open
                           enrollment policy, admitting students regardless of high school diploma
                           status. Some community colleges, however, may require youth to pass an
                           entrance examination to determine if they have the ability to benefit from
                           the college’s academic programs. Youth who do not pass the entrance
                           examination may enroll in remedial adult education courses to prepare for
                           the examination or obtain a high school equivalency degree.


State Data Showing         Data from Education’s National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS),
Transition of IDEA Youth   showing the proportion of IDEA youth who obtain jobs or pursue
into Employment and        postsecondary education after high school, are over a decade old.12
                           Education is currently funding NLTS2, but information on the long-term
Postsecondary Education    transition outcomes of students included in the study is not yet available
Have Limitations           since they are only now beginning to complete high school.13 These
                           national studies are not representative at the state level. However,
                           according to our national survey of state Directors of Special Education,
                           nearly half of the states routinely collect data on students’ transition for
                           their own use.14 (See fig. 3.)



                           12
                             Education funded NLTS in the late 1980s and early 1990s, providing information on a
                           nationally representative sample of students ages 13 to 21 enrolled in special education
                           programs in the 1985-86 school year.
                           13
                             Education plans to conduct the study until 2010 and release reports annually. The study
                           involves a nationally representative sample of special education students who were 13 to
                           16 years old as of December 2000.
                           14
                             In addition, state education officials from Kansas, Maine, and Minnesota reported to us
                           that they are in the process of developing and implementing a routine data collection
                           system.




                           Page 13                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
Figure 3: States That Collect Data on IDEA Youth Leaving High School




                           Wash.

                                              Mont.                                                                                                           Maine
                                                                   N.Dak.
                   Oreg.                                                                                                                                Vt.
                                                                                    Minn.
                                   Idaho                                                                                                                              N.H.
                                                                   S.Dak.                          Wisc.                                         N.Y.                 Mass.
                                                Wyo.                                                               Mich.
                                                                                                                                                                      R.I.
                           Nev.                                                         Iowa                                               Pa.                        Conn.
                                                                     Nebr.
                                       Utah                                                                                Ohio                                       N.J.
                                                                                                       Ill.     Ind.
                                                      Colo.                                                                       W.Va.                               Del.
               Calif.
                                                                       Kans.                Mo.                                            Va.                        Md.
                                                                                                                       Ky.

                                                                                                                                          N.C.
                                                                                                                Tenn.
                                     Ariz.                                 Okla.
                                                N.Mex.                                      Ark.                                    S.C.

                                                                                                     Miss.         Ala.      Ga.

         Hawaii                                                        Tex.                  La.


                                                                                                                                    Fla.


                                   Alaska




                                                                  States without routine data collection efforts

                                                                  States with routine data collection efforts

Source: GAO survey data.

                                                        Costs and funding sources for the data collection efforts varied among
                                                        states. (See app. II, table 8.) To fund their data collection efforts, most
                                                        states used federal funds such as those provided under IDEA, and some




                                                        Page 14                                                                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
    states also used state funding.15 For example, New York is using IDEA
    discretionary funds for a $2.75 million 7-year follow-up study, while
    Florida is spending approximately $400,000 for the state fiscal year
    2002-03 effort, using primarily general state revenues.

    Despite state efforts to collect information on the postsecondary
    employment and education status of IDEA youth, state methodologies
    have limitations that preclude using the data to represent the status of
    IDEA youth in the state, or decrease the usefulness of the data in other
    ways. (See app. II, table 9 and fig. 4 for information on state methodologies
    and type of data states have available.)

•   Selection of students. Ten states did not design their follow-up efforts to
    include a representative sample of IDEA youth. For example, Alabama and
    California collected data only on students in those school districts
    participating in the states’ model transition initiatives. In addition,
    approximately half of the states collecting data did not include IDEA youth
    who had dropped out of high school.

•   Adjusting for nonresponse bias. At least 8 states had a response rate of
    less than 50 percent. For example, Texas had a response rate of less than
    12 percent. Moreover, none of the states reported that they conducted
    analyses comparing the characteristics of respondents and
    nonrespondents to identify possible sources of bias in the results.

•   Ability to disaggregate data. Six states did not collect information on
    IDEA students’ disability type. In addition, 2 states collected information
    on the outcomes of all students without the ability to differentiate between
    outcomes for IDEA youth and their peers.

•   Timing and number of student follow-ups. All but 1 state followed up
    within 2 years of students leaving high school to obtain information on
    their immediate transition outcomes. For example, Delaware conducted
    its follow-up after 6 months, while Alabama collected information 1 year




    15
      IDEA funds included state discretionary grants and State Improvement Grants (SIG).
    Discretionary funds are awarded to states on the basis of a competitive review process.
    SIGs are provided by Education to assist state education agencies and their partners in
    reforming and improving systems for providing educational, early intervention, and
    transitional services, including systems for professional development, technical assistance,
    and dissemination of knowledge about best practices to improve results for children with
    disabilities.




    Page 15                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
    after graduation. However, only 8 states collected data at more than one
    point in time to examine students’ long-term transition outcomes.

•   Type of data available. Only 6 states had data on how many students
    were both employed and attending postsecondary school. These data are
    necessary to determine the overall proportion of IDEA youth transitioning
    to these activities after high school. Only 11 states collected information
    on reasons why some students failed to successfully transition into
    employment or postsecondary education.

    While studies from most of the states with routine data collection efforts,
    by themselves, are of insufficient methodological quality to be cited alone,
    together they show that the majority of IDEA youth were working or going
    to school within a year of leaving high school, and that they were more
    likely to be employed than to be enrolled in postsecondary education
    programs. For example, in Wisconsin, a state with one of the more sound
    approaches to data collection and analysis, 88 percent of IDEA youth who
    left high school between December 1999 and 2000 participated in an
    employment or educational activity 1 year later. Of these youth, 80 percent
    reported being employed and 47 percent reported attending some type of
    postsecondary education institution.16 These results are consistent with
    the national survey findings from the early 1990s.

    Most states that collected data have been using them for purposes such as
    monitoring school districts or targeting schools for technical assistance.
    (See app. II, table 10 for examples of state uses of data.) For example,
    Idaho looked at the transition outcomes of students in order to select
    school districts for focused monitoring, and New York prioritized its
    technical assistance to school districts that appeared to be struggling with
    transition. Nearly one-third of these states, however, did not regularly
    share the results with local school systems.

    Finally, while more than half of the states do not routinely collect data on
    postsecondary employment and education status of IDEA youth, most
    expressed interest in doing so. However, officials familiar with state data
    collection efforts indicated that state and local school systems did not
    always have appropriate guidance on how data could be collected,
    analyzed, and used to improve programs and outcomes for youth with



    16
     Percentages do not add to 100 since some youth may have been both employed and in
    school; the results are unweighted.




    Page 16                                                 GAO-03-773 Special Education
                            disabilities. For example, officials in 2 states reported that they were not
                            certain whether their surveys included appropriate questions related to
                            students’ postsecondary status. In another state, an official reported that
                            local school systems did not have the necessary expertise to use data
                            available to them for purposes such as improving programs for IDEA
                            youth.


                            A variety of problems that impede IDEA youth transition to postsecondary
Problems Impeding           education and employment have been consistently reported by youth,
Transition of IDEA          parents, teachers, and others. States and local education agencies are
                            addressing some of the reported problems related to education and work
Youth into                  experiences youth receive while in school; however, transportation
Postsecondary               problems are less likely to be addressed at the state and local level. State
                            Directors of Special Education are generally satisfied with assistance
Education and               provided to them by Education in addressing transition issues at the state
Employment Remain           and local level, but some expressed concerns about the timeliness of
Partially Addressed         federal feedback on their state improvement plans and inconsistency in
                            the quality of technical assistance provided by federal Regional Resource
                            Centers.


Poor Linkages between       Discussions with students, parents, teachers, and others during our site
Schools and Youth Service   visits revealed that a variety of transition problems still remain that have
Providers and Other         been consistently reported by these groups in past surveys and published
                            studies. Transition problems affecting IDEA youth include those related to
Problems Impeding IDEA      self-advocacy training and insufficient information about the transition
Youth Transition Have       process. For example, youth responding to a national survey by a youth
Been Partially Addressed    association,17 reported problems identifying and learning how to ask for
at the State and Local      specific accommodations they need to succeed in school and the
Level                       workplace. In addition, parents we interviewed said they did not have
                            information about the spectrum of education and employment service
                            providers that were available. Other problems included an absence of
                            linkages to adult service providers, insufficient vocational education and
                            work-related experiences obtained during high school, and lack of



                            17
                              The survey was conducted by the National Youth Leadership Network during 2001-02 and
                            included responses from 202 youth with disabilities between the ages of 16 and 24. Survey
                            respondents came from 34 states and the District of Columbia but were not randomly
                            selected and survey results cannot be generalized to the national population of youth with
                            disabilities.




                            Page 17                                                    GAO-03-773 Special Education
transportation after high school to the job site or postsecondary school.
(See table 2.)

Table 2: Problems Reported by Stakeholders in the Transition Process

 Transition problem                                                                           Stakeholders
 Lack of self-advocacy training                                                               Youth
 Insufficient information about transition process                                            Parents
 Absence of linkages between school systems and service                                       Teachers
 providers
 Lack of vocational education and community work experience                                   Researchers
 Lack of transportation                                                                       Federal, state, and local
                                                                                              officials
Source: National Youth Leadership Network 2001-02 Youth Survey, site visits, Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education
(SPeNSE), NLTS2, and our interviews.


Self-advocacy training. Youth with disabilities responding to a national
survey by a youth association, reported problems obtaining knowledge
about their rights under laws like IDEA and the Americans with
Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990,18 and identifying and learning how to ask
for specific accommodations they need to succeed in school and the
workplace. Research shows that many youth with disabilities have
difficulties developing the necessary attitudes and skills to prepare for
their lives after graduation, but suggest that youth who obtain self-
determination skills are more likely to achieve positive education and
employment outcomes. State Directors of Special Education in 24 states
reported that less than half of IDEA students received self-advocacy
training while in high school.

Many states and local education agencies have taken various actions to
provide and promote self-advocacy training. For example, 3 states passed
legislation or developed regulations mandating self-advocacy curriculum
in schools according to our survey of state Directors of Special Education,
and 44 percent of local education agencies include self-advocacy training
for IDEA youth in their curriculum according to a national survey by
Education.19 While a national survey of personnel serving students with



18
 The ADA prohibits discrimination in employment, public services, and public
accommodations against qualified individuals with disabilities.
19
 SLIIDEA collected transition data in 1999-2000 from the 50 states and a nationally
representative sample of districts and schools that serve children with disabilities.




Page 18                                                                              GAO-03-773 Special Education
disabilities20 shows that less than two thirds of special education teachers
frequently teach self-determination skills, Directors of Special Education
in about half of the 50 states we surveyed reported introducing programs
to train teachers on how to teach self-advocacy skills.

Transition process. Parents interviewed during our site visits reported
problems helping their child navigate the transition process as students
prepare to leave high school for the adult world. Research shows that
when parents participate in their child’s education, their child improves
academically and has higher aspirations for school and career
development. However, parents from our site visits and family support
groups said that they did not have the necessary information to adequately
participate in their child’s transition from high school. Parents we
interviewed said they did not have information about where to go for
assistance after high school, the spectrum of education and employment
service providers that were available, and the type and level of support
that may be offered by providers. Moreover, they were unaware of the
ADA or other laws protecting their children’s rights, and family support
resources available to them in the community such as Parent Training and
Information Centers.21

States have taken some actions to provide this knowledge to parents.
Eight states indicated in our survey that they have passed legislation or
regulations to include parents or advocacy groups in transition planning
while youth are in high school.22 In addition, at least three-fourths of the
states are funding parent centers or other family advocacy groups,
establishing task forces and workgroups, and providing technical
assistance to local school systems. Ongoing efforts also exist in over half




20
  SPeNSE surveyed personnel from a nationally representative sample of districts,
intermediate education agencies, and state schools for students with vision and hearing
impairments.
21
  Parent centers are funded by Education and serve families of children and young adults
with disabilities. The centers provide training and information to parents and connect
children with disabilities to community resources that address their needs. Each state has
at least one parent center, and states with large populations may have more. There are
approximately 100 parent centers in the United States.
22
  IDEA also requires that parents be given the opportunity to attend meetings discussing
the child’s individualized education program, provide consent to any provision of services
to the child when given the first time, and be informed of the child’s progress toward
annual goals.




Page 19                                                    GAO-03-773 Special Education
of the states to increase parent participation through developing culturally
diverse transition materials.

Linkages between schools and service providers. Teachers
responding to a national survey by Education23 reported that in the area of
IDEA youth transition, more than half rarely, if ever, coordinate referrals
to adult service providers. National data from NLTS show that more than
85 percent of IDEA youth received services that were sought after high
school, and IDEA legislation requires that a student’s IEP include a
statement of interagency responsibilities or any needed linkages, if
appropriate, to ensure that IDEA youth will receive the services needed to
achieve their postsecondary education or career goals. Twenty-one state
Directors of Special Education reported in our survey that many local
school systems do not have designated intermediaries to establish such
linkages, and 18 Directors of Special Education said that their agency also
had difficulty coordinating with other state agencies outside of the school
system. Teachers from our site visits cited lack of time and knowledge
about available service providers as part of the problem.

All states are taking some action to provide direction and resources for
improving linkages between schools and service providers. Ten states
reported in our survey that they passed legislation or regulations providing
for greater coordination between schools and service providers. In
addition, according to Education’s survey of state and local education
areas, while less than half of school districts reported having a transition
coordinator at each high school, all but 3 states reported hiring state
transition coordinators who can assist teachers in their efforts to link
students with providers after high school. All states reported providing
technical assistance or training to local education agencies on interagency
coordination, with Connecticut also developing policies and procedures
for students to access adult services, and Utah providing training to other
state agencies on IDEA transition requirements.

Vocational education and community work experience. Findings
based on parent interviews from NLTS2 show that 24 percent of youth
received vocational services and 60 percent had paid work experiences
while in high school, despite findings from the SLIIDEA study that about
90 percent of high schools reported offering prevocational training and
work experience to IDEA students. Past research has shown that IDEA


23
 SPeNSE.




Page 20                                          GAO-03-773 Special Education
youth who received these services experienced higher rates of successful
transition. For example, NLTS researchers reported that youth with
disabilities obtaining vocational education and community work
experience had been less likely to drop out of school, and achieved greater
success in obtaining employment with higher earnings.24 Those conducting
more recent state and local studies reported similar results. State and local
education officials from 3 states we visited indicated that school districts
have difficulties offering an appropriate mix of vocational programs that
reflect the job market demands as well as meet the students’ career
interests.

States and local education agencies have taken various actions to provide
and promote vocational education and career preparation opportunities
for IDEA youth. Nine Directors of Special Education in our state survey
said that their state had passed legislation or regulations requiring
vocational education and career preparation for IDEA students, and most
Directors of Special Education said that they disseminated best practices
in the area of vocational education and career preparation. Other actions
taken by half of the states included funding outreach and collaboration
efforts of local education agencies to create vocational education and
work opportunities.

Transportation. Federal, state, and local officials in 3 states we visited all
said that many youth may not have access to transportation they need to
pursue employment and postsecondary education. In rural areas, public
transportation may be very limited, or may not be available during the time
needed to get to their job site or college. Availability of transportation is
not always the only issue. One parent told us that using public
transportation was not feasible because her child suffered from seizures.
While private providers may be better prepared to serve youth with
disabilities, parents and advocacy groups said that private providers were
often unreliable and their services were not coordinated with public
transportation systems. An advocacy official indicated that one reason
why these providers are unreliable is because they generally operate on a
priority system that gives medical needs a higher priority than employment
needs.



24
 NLTS showed that vocational education has a positive impact on both education and
employment outcomes for the majority of students, while work experience has a positive
impact on education for all students with disabilities and on employment for students with
orthopedic or health impairments.




Page 21                                                    GAO-03-773 Special Education
                          The 3 states we visited had not addressed transition issues related to the
                          lack of reliable transportation in their state improvement plans.25 State
                          education officials said these types of problems are outside their area of
                          responsibility. In New York and California, however, some local areas are
                          taking initiative to address this problem. In western New York, a
                          collaborative endeavor involving 30 agencies provides transportation, as
                          well as other services, to youth with disabilities to help them in career
                          preparation activities. In California, youth workforce development centers
                          work with the Sacramento Regional Transit District to provide
                          complementary transit tickets to youth with disabilities so they can come
                          to the centers for educational and employment services.


Education Provides Some   Over half of state Directors of Special Education reported that federal
Assistance to States in   assistance was very helpful in assisting states address transition problems,
Addressing Transition     but some stated that the timeliness or consistency of assistance could be
                          improved. One of the ways Education provides assistance to states is by
Problems, but Concerns    providing feedback on state improvement plans that states develop and
Remain about Timeliness   use to show how they plan to address areas of weakness in implementing
and Consistency of        IDEA, including transition requirements.26 While 39 state Directors of
Assistance                Special Education found this feedback useful, some expressed
                          dissatisfaction over Education’s timeliness in providing the feedback. For
                          example, of 21 state plans submitted to Education in 2002, only one-fourth
                          received feedback within 6 months, and at least another one-fifth did not
                          receive formal written feedback for a year or more. (See table 3.)




                          25
                            We previously reported on federal, state and local actions needed to coordinate
                          transportation services, U.S. General Accounting Office, Transportation - Disadvantaged
                          Populations: Some Coordination Efforts Among Programs Providing Transportation
                          Services, but Obstacles Persist, GAO-03-697 (Washington D.C.: June 30, 2003).
                          26
                           For more information on Education’s oversight process, see U.S. General Accounting
                          Office, Special Education: Clearer Guidance Would Enhance Implementation of Federal
                          Disciplinary Provisions, GAO-03-550 (Washington D.C.: May 20, 2003).




                          Page 22                                                  GAO-03-773 Special Education
Table 3: Education’s Response Time as of March 26, 2003, to States Submitting
Improvement Plans in 2002

                                                State                          Federal        Elapsed time
 State                                submission date                    response date           in months
 Response received
 Minnesota                                    February-02                    March-03                   14
 Illinois                                      January-02                  February-03                  14
 Connecticut                                  February-02                 December-02                   10
 Delaware                                     February-02                   October-02                    8
 Idaho                                              April-02              December-02                     8
 Nevada                                              July-02                January-03                    7
 Oklahoma                                            July-02                January-03                    6
 Wyoming                                             May-02                 October-02                    4
 Virginia                                      October-02                  February-03                    4
 Michigan                                            July-02                October-02                    3
 New Hampshire                                   August-02                  October-02                    2
 Response pending
 South Carolina                               February-02                     Pending                  14+
 Texas                                            March-02                    Pending                  13+
 Oregon                                             June-02                   Pending                   9+
 North Carolina                                     June-02                   Pending                   9+
 Tennessee                                           July-02                  Pending                   9+
 Rhode Island                                        July-02                  Pending                   9+
 Kentucky                                            July-02                  Pending                   9+
 Indiana                                             July-02                  Pending                   9+
 Georgia                                   September-02                       Pending                   7+
 Iowa                                          October-02                     Pending                   6+
Source: Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.


Education does not have a standard response period and has not set a
performance goal for providing feedback to states on their improvement
plans. While Education officials stated that they provide extensive
informal feedback to states prior to issuing a formal written response, they
also stated that they are taking action to try and expedite the agency’s
formal written responses. To preclude delays on the formal written
feedback resulting from the agency’s internal review process, Education
has developed standard language and written review procedures to be
used in preparing feedback. According to Education officials, having
standard language and review procedures will decrease the time necessary




Page 23                                                                        GAO-03-773 Special Education
to write and review the feedback report. They also hope these actions will
reduce the response time to states.

Another way Education provides assistance to states is by funding
6 Regional Resource Centers that states can use to obtain technical
assistance for addressing transition issues.27 Services provided to states by
the centers include guidance, training, information dissemination,
assistance with state development of training materials, and facilitation of
meetings states convene to address problems. Directors of Special
Education in 29 states reported in our survey that assistance obtained
from the centers was very helpful, but there are some concerns that the
quality of services was sometimes inconsistent among the centers. One
center, for example, consistently received high marks from the states in
that region, while the remaining 5 centers received mixed reviews.

State and center officials attributed the inconsistent quality of services to
variation in the expertise available at each center, an observation also
reported in a previous performance evaluation of the centers.28 This
evaluation recommended that Education provide training to alleviate the
disparity in staff expertise, particularly with regard to transition issues. In
response to this issue, Education officials said that the agency offers
periodic professional development opportunities and encourages the
centers to operate as a network by sharing knowledge and expertise.
Despite these efforts, however, some states still have concerns about
service quality and are turning to private consultants to obtain help with
transition issues.




27
 Education also funds the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition to
coordinate national resources, offer technical assistance, and disseminate information
related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities in order to create
opportunities for youth to achieve successful futures.
28
 The performance evaluation of the Regional Resource Centers was conducted by
Education’s Federal Resource Center of Special Education—June 2001.




Page 24                                                      GAO-03-773 Special Education
                             The VR, WIA, and Ticket programs all offer services that can aid some
The VR, WIA, and             IDEA youth in their transition to postsecondary education or employment.
Ticket Programs              While the federal agencies administering these programs are not required
                             to track how many IDEA youth use them, several factors may impede
Provide Transition           participation by the IDEA populations that are eligible for services. One
Services, but Several        factor limiting services under VR and WIA is insufficient program capacity
                             to serve all eligible populations requesting services. Another factor
Factors May Limit the        affecting participation under the Ticket program is family concerns about
Number of IDEA               whether finding employment would result in youth losing public
Youth Who Use Them           assistance. A factor that may affect IDEA youth participation in all
                             programs to various extents is a general lack of awareness by youth and
                             families that these federal resources are available for transition assistance.


The VR, WIA, and Ticket      The VR, WIA, and Ticket programs all offer an array of similar and
Programs Provide a Variety   complementary education, employment, and support services for certain
of Education and             population groups.
Employment Transition        Education services. These services can support youth who are trying to
Services                     complete their high school education as well as those youth furthering
                             their education in postsecondary institutions, such as community colleges.
                             Services for youth at all education levels can include those that prepare
                             them for learning by providing tutoring and study skills training as well as
                             providing access to educational programs through tuition support.
                             Education services support both out of school youth, as well as those at
                             risk of dropping out. We observed a tutoring program in an Alabama
                             school district, for example, that used WIA funds to assist high school
                             youth who are struggling academically.

                             Employment services. These services can assist IDEA youth that are
                             trying to obtain a job or obtain job skills necessary to increase potential
                             wages. Services for youth in either situation can include those that prepare
                             them for employment by providing job coaching and training, as well as
                             direct placement with an employer. A service provider under the Ticket
                             program in New York, for example, said that in addition to employment
                             preparation services, they help find jobs for enrollees.

                             Support services. These services can assist IDEA youth pursue their
                             education and employment goals as well as achieve goals for independent
                             living. These services can include mentoring and counseling, childcare,
                             and transportation, as well as any other services that might be needed. In
                             California, for example, the VR agency has cooperative agreements with
                             education agencies to provide support services to youth with disabilities,


                             Page 25                                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
    including financial assistance for assistive technology, such as wheelchairs
    and adapted computers, conducting vocational assessments for students,
    and providing information on options for both independent and supported
    living facilities.

    IDEA youth are not automatically eligible for these education,
    employment, and support services, and the VR, WIA, and Ticket programs
    serve populations that are both different and overlapping. Of the
    approximately 2 million IDEA youth ages 14 to 21, only some of these
    youth are eligible for these federally funded services.

•   Under the VR program, all people with a physical or mental impairment
    are potentially eligible for services, but states may only serve those with
    the most significant disabilities in times of funding constraint. The former
    administrator of Oregon’s VR program said that in the past the state was
    unable to serve some youth with psychiatric disorders due to funding
    constraints.

•   WIA primarily limits services to low-income youth that have some type of
    barrier to employment.29 While disabilities under IDEA may qualify as
    barriers for WIA purposes, available data suggest that only about 29
    percent of IDEA youth meet WIA’s low-income requirement.30

•   To qualify for the Ticket program, individuals must be at least 18 years old,
    and qualify for disability benefits from SSA.31 Available data suggest that
    about 13 percent of the IDEA youth population meets Ticket’s age and
    benefit requirements.32

    Education, Labor, and SSA are not required to track the number of IDEA
    youth who are enrolled and obtaining transition services provided through


    29
     Under WIA, youth are eligible for services if they fall within one or more of the following
    categories: deficit in basic skills, school dropout, homeless, runaway, or foster child,
    pregnant or parent, has disability, offender, or requires additional assistance to obtain
    employment. Income qualification can be waived for up to 5 percent of youth in a local
    area.
    30
     To estimate the percentage of IDEA youth eligible for WIA programs, we used data
    reported in the NLTS2 survey on income of IDEA youth’s families.
    31
     Benefits are provided under the SSI program and the SSDI program.
    32
     We determined the percentage of IDEA youth eligible for the Ticket program by using
    data provided by SSA on the number of youth ages 18 to 21 receiving Social Security and
    SSI disability benefits.




    Page 26                                                      GAO-03-773 Special Education
the VR, WIA, and Ticket programs.33 However, available data for all youth
show that over 550,000 were enrolled and received services during the
time frames outlined in table 4.

Table 4: All Youth Ages 14 to 21 Served by Selected Federal Programs

    Program                                                           Time frame                                Youth served
                                                                                                                                   a
    VR                                                          10/1/01-9/30/02                                         175,000
    WIA                                                           7/1/01-6/31/02                                         376,014
                                                                                       b
    Ticket                                                             2/02-11/02                                              496
    Total                                                                                                                551,510
Source: The Department of Education’s Rehabilitation Services Administration, the Council for State Administrators of Vocational
Rehabilitation, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, and the Social Security Administration.
a
The estimate of the number of youth served is based on the proportion of youth (ages 14-21) who
exited the VR program in fiscal year 2001.
b
This time period reflects the first 9 months that Ticket was implemented in 13 states.


While federal agencies are not required to collect data on the type of
education, employment, and support services actually provided to IDEA
youth under the VR, WIA, and Ticket programs, Education and Labor do
collect information on services provided to all youth ages 14 to 21.34
Education data on the approximately 94,000 youth who received services
and exited the VR program in fiscal year 2001 show that three-fourths of
youth obtained vocational, medical, and social counseling, and more youth
obtained employment services than services to further their education or
training. (See table 5.)




33
    In fiscal year 2002, Education began collecting data on IDEA youth.
34
    SSA does not collect data on services provided to participants in the Ticket program.




Page 27                                                                                GAO-03-773 Special Education
Table 5: Selected Services Provided to Youth through the VR Program in Fiscal
Year 2001

                                                                                                      Percent of youth
    Type of service                                                                                ages 14 to 21 served
    Employment services
    Job finding services                                                                                            36
    Job placement services                                                                                          29
    Training services
    Business/vocational training                                                                                    12
    On-the-job training                                                                                              8
    Educational services
    Postsecondary educational training                                                                              21
    Educational training below postsecondary level                                                                  19
    Support services
    Counseling and guidancea                                                                                        74
    Transportation services                                                                                         23
Source: GAO analysis of data provided by the Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration.
a
 Counseling and guidance includes personal adjustment counseling, counseling that addresses
medical, family, or social issues, vocational counseling, and any other form of counseling necessary
for an individual to achieve an employment outcome.


Labor data on the approximately 80,000 youth who received services and
exited the WIA program in fiscal year 2001 show that about 40 percent of
youth obtained employment and education services, but less than one-
fourth received support services. (See table 6.)35

Table 6: Selected Services Provided through WIA in Program Year 2001

                                                                                                      Percent of youth
    Type of service                                                                                ages14 to 21 served
    Employment services                                                                                             41
    Summer employment opportunities                                                                                 50
    Educational services                                                                                            38
    Support services                                                                                                18
    Leadership development opportunities                                                                            15
Source: GAO analysis of data provided by the Department of Labor.




35
    These data may be incomplete as the data set had a number of missing records.




Page 28                                                                               GAO-03-773 Special Education
Lack of Awareness and      While IDEA youth vary in their need and desire to use federal transition
Other Factors May Impede   services, there are several factors that may impede their access to them.
IDEA Youth Participation   Three factors that may limit IDEA youth participation include
                           (1) limitations in program capacity to serve the eligible population seeking
in Federally Funded        services, (2) youth and family fears that employment income may
Transition Services        jeopardize access to other public assistance, and (3) a lack of awareness
                           about the availability of the transition resources.

                           Program capacity. In regard to program capacity, the VR, WIA, and
                           Ticket programs face different issues in serving IDEA youth eligible for
                           their services. These problems include a lack of expertise to serve youth
                           with disabilities, a lack of resources to serve all those seeking services,
                           and unavailability of services in some states. For example:

                       •   Under the VR program, IDEA youth compete with all adults and youth
                           with disabilities for services. Education officials report that a number of
                           states have waiting lists for VR services. At the end of fiscal year 2001, for
                           example, VR agencies had more people seeking services than resources to
                           serve them, and about 30,000 people in 25 states were on waiting lists for
                           services. (See app. III.)36 Of this total, Education reported that about
                           20 percent, or about 6,000 individuals, were on a waiting list for VR
                           services in Washington state.

                       •   Under WIA, IDEA youth compete with all youth facing some type of
                           barrier to employment, and older youth also compete with adults for
                           services under the WIA adult program.37 WIA officials told us that WIA
                           providers generally do not have the expertise to serve youth with
                           disabilities,38 and in some cases facilities do not have the appropriate
                           physical accommodations. In light of these deficiencies, WIA officials told
                           us that this population is often referred to VR agencies for assessment and
                           services.

                       •   The Ticket program has resources to serve all eligible youth seeking
                           services; however, this new program has not yet been implemented in all


                           36
                             Moreover, Education officials informed us that the presence of waiting lists might keep
                           additional individuals from seeking VR services.
                           37
                            WIA does allow local areas to waive income qualification criteria for up to 5 percent of
                           youth served.
                           38
                            SSA has partnered with Labor to place disability navigators at all WIA assistance facilities.
                           The navigators will have expertise in Social Security disability programs, disability law, and
                           other relevant issues.




                           Page 29                                                      GAO-03-773 Special Education
states. SSA plans to complete its rollout of the program to the final
17 states and the U.S. territories by 2004, which will increase access to the
program for over half of the approximately 257,000 youth receiving
assistance from SSA.39 (See app. IV.)

Fear of losing public assistance. A second contributing factor may be
that some youth and families that receive public assistance are afraid that
employment income will jeopardize their access to other federal and state
public assistance benefits such as health insurance and subsidized
housing. SSA reports that less than 1 percent of eligible youth had signed
up for the Ticket program to increase self-sufficiency. In the 3 states we
visited, SSA officials, school administrators, teachers, advocacy groups,
and others involved in the transition process said that fear of losing
federal and state benefits is a common reason why individuals are hesitant
to participate in federal work incentive programs such as the Ticket
program. While some of these fears may be unfounded, others are not, and
working and receiving income can affect youth’s ability to retain services
such as health insurance benefits through Medicaid.40 For example, while
SSA has encouraged states to offer beneficiaries the opportunity to retain
Medicaid benefits while earning wages, only about half of the states have
established such policies. (See app. V.) While some programs allow youth
to earn a certain amount of income and retain benefits, amounts allowed
under the various assistance programs can differ, and many families are
not aware of the contingencies. Although youth unable to sustain
employment can re-enroll in public assistance programs, parents we spoke
with stated that enrollment in the various programs is a lengthy and
difficult process that they do not want to repeat.

Lack of awareness of available federal services. Finally, a third factor
that may limit IDEA youth participation in federal programs is that many
youth and families are unaware that they exist. While IDEA legislation
requires schools to provide youth with transition services and information
about available transition resources, students, parents, and teachers we
spoke with in the 3 states visited were generally uninformed about the
continuum of available federal transition services and how to access them.
Most of those we talked with were familiar with the VR program and the



39
 As of December 2002, about 244,000 youth between ages 18 to 21 were SSI recipients and
about 13,000 youth 21 and under were SSDI recipients.
40
 Medicaid is a jointly funded, federal-state entitlement program that finances health care
coverage for low-income individuals.




Page 30                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
    types of services it provides.41 However, many were unfamiliar with the
    Ticket program, and familiarity with the services provided through the
    Workforce Investment Act assistance centers varied dramatically within
    and among states. In one California suburban community, a high school
    we visited had a close working relationship with the local assistance
    center, and school administrators, teachers, and students were aware of
    the services available there. However, teachers, parents, and students we
    talked to at an urban New York school were unfamiliar with the assistance
    centers that provide WIA services, even though a center was located only a
    few miles away.

    Education, Labor, and SSA recognize that action is needed to reach out to
    youth and families and tell them about federal resources such as the VR,
    WIA, and Ticket programs. While these agencies have several efforts
    underway to publicize or increase awareness of available resources, these
    efforts may not include information on all federal transition resources, or
    reach youth, families, and teachers involved in developing transition plans
    for youth leaving high school. For example:

•   Education’s Regional Resource Center in the Southeast developed a guide
    to inform students and families about available resources, but this guide
    does not include information about WIA services. The guide is available on
    the Web, but there is no consistent distribution process to provide the
    guide to all youth and families in all states served by the center.

•   Labor partnered with SSA and other federal agencies to identify more than
    200 federal programs among 12 federal agencies that serve persons with
    disabilities. A Labor official said that once the report is finalized, it will be
    available to the public, including IDEA youth and families; however, this
    report is primarily targeted to policymakers and program officials.

•   SSA has several efforts underway to increase awareness of the Ticket
    program among other federal and state agencies, service providers, and
    advocacy groups. While the agency is conducting local outreach using
    benefits planning, assistance, and outreach centers as well as protection




    41
      VR agencies are required by law to conduct outreach to special education students while
    they are in high school.




    Page 31                                                   GAO-03-773 Special Education
              and advocacy partners, these efforts do not consistently target youth and
              families through high schools.42

              Youth served under IDEA are not a homogeneous population, and
Conclusions   graduation patterns and postsecondary education and employment status
              can differ significantly among those with physical, sensory, emotional, or
              cognitive disabilities. IDEA requires individualized education programs
              that address needed transition services that recognize the unique
              challenges each youth with a disability must face. These programs can
              best be developed when states and schools have the necessary information
              to evaluate how well existing programs are working to assist youth during
              and after graduation. State education officials increasingly show interest
              in collecting data on what happens to IDEA youth after they leave high
              school, and nearly half of the states voluntarily collect such data. Many
              states, however, are still searching for ways to develop cost-effective and
              sound data collection systems and there is no central information point to
              share alternative methodologies that may be most useful for identifying
              which groups of IDEA youth are behind their peers and whether
              programmatic changes are needed to eliminate performance gaps. In the
              absence of guidance and information on how to collect and use
              postsecondary data, state and local education agencies and schools will
              continue to experience difficulties in evaluating the effectiveness of
              existing programs for students with disabilities, initiating program
              improvements, and targeting resources to areas or groups that need them
              most.

              Although state and local education agencies are taking steps to minimize
              transition problems for youth with disabilities, challenges such as
              developing linkages between schools and community youth service
              providers still remain that need to be addressed both inside and outside of
              the education system. While Education provides some federal resources to
              help state and local education agencies address these problems, the
              usefulness of the assistance may be compromised because of delays and
              inconsistent quality of some services. Some transition challenges are likely
              to remain unless federal assistance is strengthened and used to help states
              take a more holistic approach to dealing with transition issues.


              42
                Under the Benefits Planning, Assistance, and Outreach Program, SSA has established
              cooperative agreements with entities across the nation to provide benefits counseling and
              assistance, and conduct ongoing outreach efforts to inform beneficiaries of available work
              incentives. SSA also established the Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social
              Security Program to serve SSI and SSDI beneficiaries who want to work.




              Page 32                                                    GAO-03-773 Special Education
                         Federal assistance provided under the VR, WIA, and Ticket programs can
                         help augment transition services provided by state and local education
                         agencies, or fund transportation or other services that are otherwise
                         unavailable. While these services are intended to help youth overcome
                         barriers to a successful transition, this assistance cannot be provided if
                         youth, parents, and education officials are unaware that these services
                         exist. In the absence of improved coordination among federal agencies to
                         provide these customers with information on the array of available federal
                         resources, youth eligible for such services will not be able to use them in
                         their efforts to achieve a successful education or employment outcome.


                         To expand the availability and use of data on the postsecondary
Recommendations for      employment and education status of IDEA youth, we are recommending
Executive Action         that Education collect and disseminate information to states on sound
                         strategies for collecting these data and appropriately using these data for
                         program improvement.

                         To enhance federal assistance provided to states to help them address
                         existing transition problems, we are recommending that Education
                         develop an action plan with specific time frames to

                     •   provide states with feedback on state improvement plans to address
                         education and transition problems of IDEA youth and

                     •   ensure consistency in the quality of technical assistance provided to states
                         by its regional resource centers.

                         Finally, to increase awareness of available federal transition services, we
                         are recommending that Education take the lead in working with other
                         federal agencies to develop strategies for using the federally mandated
                         high school transition planning process to provide IDEA youth and their
                         families with information about the full complement of federally funded
                         transition services.


                         We provided a draft of this report to Education, Labor, and SSA officials
Agency Comments          for their review and comment. Agency comments are reprinted in
and Our Evaluation       appendixes VI, VII, and VIII, respectively. While we made specific
                         recommendations to the Department of Education, all agencies agreed
                         with the recommendations for executive action and discussed their plans
                         to address them.




                         Page 33                                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
Education plans to take steps to implement our recommendations to
provide information to states on sound data collection strategies, improve
feedback and technical assistance to states, and work with other federal
agencies to provide IDEA youth with information about federal transition
services. Education noted that its plans and actions will depend on
legislative changes made to the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act, and that
action to implement our recommendations will be taken after
reauthorization of these laws is completed. Education also cautioned that
because of variations in the collection and reporting of state data on
student graduation, dropouts, and exit examination policies, it is difficult
to draw valid conclusions about high school completion outcomes and the
effect of exit examinations.

Labor stated that our findings and recommendations substantiated the
issues and concerns that it has with regard to transition challenges for
youth with disabilities. Labor also described the steps it has taken to
address WIA youth program concerns related to program capacity, lack of
awareness, and eligibility.

SSA noted that it would continue to work with Education to provide IDEA
youth and their families with information about SSA programs, work
incentives, and employment supports. SSA also cited its planning efforts
that are aimed at promoting employment and economic self-sufficiency
involving youth with disabilities.

Education and SSA also provided technical comments, which we
incorporated where appropriate.

We will send copies of this report to the Secretaries of Education and
Labor, SSA, relevant congressional committees, and other interested
parties. Copies will be made available to others upon request. In addition,
the report will be available at no charge on the GAO Web site at
http://www.gao.gov.




Page 34                                          GAO-03-773 Special Education
Please contact me at (415) 904-2272 if you or your staff has any questions
about this report. Other major contributors to this report are listed in
appendix IX.

Sincerely yours,




David D. Bellis
Director, Education, Workforce,
 and Income Security Issues




Page 35                                          GAO-03-773 Special Education
                         Appendix I: Scope and Methodology
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology


                         In conducting our work, we administered a mail survey to state Directors
                         of Special Education in all states, conducted telephone interviews with
                         state officials, and visited 3 states. We also reviewed the findings of
                         nationally available studies on transition experiences of students covered
                         under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), interviewed
                         officials from the U.S. Department of Education (Education), U.S.
                         Department of Labor (Labor), and the Social Security Administration
                         (SSA), who are responsible for programs that can assist students during
                         transition, and analyzed data from these programs. In addition, we
                         interviewed disability advocates and national experts from organizations
                         such as the National Organization on Disability, Parent Advocacy Coalition
                         for Educational Rights, and Council for Exceptional Children, National
                         Center on Secondary Education and Transition, and National Association
                         of State Directors of Special Education. We performed our work in
                         accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards
                         between June 2002 and June 2003.


                         To document state graduation and examination policies pertaining to
Survey                   IDEA youth, challenges experienced by these youth during transition,
                         actions taken by the states to address these challenges, states’
                         assessments of federal resources, as well as to obtain information on state
                         efforts to routinely collect data on these students’ postsecondary status,
                         we conducted a mail survey, sending questionnaires to state Directors of
                         Special Education in 50 states. All 50 states responded to our survey. In
                         many states, Directors of Special Education forwarded the survey to other
                         individuals, such as state transition coordinators or education specialists,
                         that they believed to be most knowledgeable about the issues covered in
                         the survey. We analyzed the survey data by calculating descriptive
                         statistics, as well as performing content analysis of the responses to open-
                         ended survey questions.


                         To obtain information on states’ efforts to collect data on postsecondary
State Telephone          employment and education status of IDEA students, we conducted
Interviews and           telephone interviews with state officials from 21 states who indicated on
                         our survey that their states routinely collected these data. We contacted
Analysis of State Data   individuals in those states that the survey respondents identified as being
                         most knowledgeable about data collection efforts in their states, such as
                         state education officials or university researchers responsible for data
                         collection in the state. To obtain additional information on the data
                         collection methodologies used by the states, as well as to learn about
                         postsecondary status of IDEA students in those states, we also requested


                         Page 36                                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
              Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




              all states participating in the telephone interviews provide their survey
              instruments and any published materials or other available information
              reporting students’ outcomes.

              To obtain information on states’ utilization and assessment of federal
              resources available to assist them in addressing transition problems
              experienced by IDEA youth, we conducted telephone interviews with state
              officials in 11 states. We used our survey results to select states that had
              opposing views on how helpful they believed federal resources were in
              providing assistance to address transition problems.


              To obtain in-depth information on transition experiences of IDEA youth,
Site Visits   the challenges they are facing in the course of their transition, the extent
              to which federal and other programs are available to serve them, and
              actions taken at the state and local level to address existing transition
              challenges, we made site visits to 3 states—Alabama, California, and New
              York. We selected these states to obtain a mix based on differences in
              geographic location, the size of the IDEA population in the state, high
              school completion patterns, exit examination policies for IDEA youth in
              the state, postsecondary data collection efforts, and state monitoring
              processes, as well as recommendations of experts in transition. We visited
              2 local school systems in each state, representing a combination of urban,
              suburban, and rural areas. (See table 7.) In addition, we consulted with
              state officials in helping us select local school systems with exemplary
              transition practices, as well as those that appeared to be struggling in the
              transition area.

              Table 7: Site Visit States and Local School Systems

               State                                                      Local school systems
               Alabama                                                                 Jefferson
                                                                                         Auburn
               California                                                          Elk GroveSan
                                                                                Francisco Unified
               New York                                                               Gowanda
                                                                                     Buffalo City
              Source: GAO data.


              On each visit, we interviewed various stakeholders in the transition
              process at the state and local levels. At the state level, we typically
              interviewed Special Education, vocational rehabilitation (VR), and Labor
              officials, as well as members of the state Steering Committees established



              Page 37                                               GAO-03-773 Special Education
                        Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




                        as part of the federal Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process.1 At the
                        local level, we interviewed school district officials responsible for special
                        education services, school administrators and special education teachers,
                        transition-age IDEA students and parents, community service providers
                        and advocates, and VR, Workforce Investment Act youth program (WIA),
                        and SSA officials responsible for local-level implementation of the VR
                        program, WIA, and the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency (Ticket)
                        program, respectively.


                        To obtain information on transition problems as well as state and local
Review of National      efforts to address them, we reviewed and summarized the findings of
Studies on Transition   nationally available studies that addressed these issues, including the
                        Study of State and Local Implementation and Impact of the IDEA, the
                        Study of Personnel Needs in Special Education (SPeNSE), the National
                        Longitudinal Transition Study-2, and the National Youth Leadership
                        Network 2001-02 Youth Survey. We used a statistician to evaluate these
                        studies for methodological rigor, as well as to determine the extent to
                        which these data could be used to offer a nationwide perspective on
                        transition problems experienced by IDEA youth and on the actions taken
                        by state and local education agencies to address these problems. We
                        determined that the results from SPeNSE might be subject to bias since
                        the nonresponse evaluation for this study was not available at the time of
                        our request. The results of the youth survey presented the views of over
                        200 youth but did not reflect a nationally representative perspective
                        because respondents were not randomly selected. We included the youth
                        survey in our review because it was reported as the only data collection
                        effort in the country designed and implemented by youth with disabilities.


                        To determine high school completion rates for IDEA students, we
Analysis of Existing    obtained data collected from the states by the Office of Special Education
Data                    Programs (OSEP) and summarized in Education’s Annual Reports to
                        Congress. We used the 22nd and 23rd Annual Reports to obtain data for
                        1997-98 and 1998-99 school years. We used OSEP-administered Web site
                        (http://www.ideadata.org) to obtain data for 1999-2000 and 2000-01 school
                        years. In calculating graduation and dropout rates for IDEA youth, we
                        relied on the method in use by OSEP. Specifically, OSEP reports what



                        1
                         We did not interview Steering Committee representatives in California because California
                        did not fully participate in the federal monitoring process.




                        Page 38                                                   GAO-03-773 Special Education
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




percentage of IDEA students leave high school with a standard diploma or
drop out during a given school year out of the total number of IDEA
students who leave high school with a standard diploma or a certificate,
drop out, age out, or die during that year. OSEP does not report the
certificate rate, but using OSEP’s data, we calculated the rate of youth
completing with a certificate in the same manner.

To determine high school completion and dropout rates for all students,
we looked at an August 2002 published report from the National Center for
Education Statistics (NCES), presenting rates of students completing
public school with a standard diploma or an alternative credential and
dropping out (among states that reported dropouts) for school year 1999-
2000. These data were collected by NCES for public school completers
and dropouts through its Common Core of Data system.

We obtained information on states’ exit examination policies from the
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition and the National
Center on Education Outcomes. We used that information to update
Education’s analysis of completion and dropout rates for IDEA students in
states with and without exit examinations. Education’s analysis did not
differentiate between states that had exit examination policies in general
and those that had fully implemented those policies by requiring all
graduating seniors to participate in the examination in order to graduate.
When we repeated Education’s analysis, we defined exit examination
states only as those that had required all graduating seniors to fully
participate in the exit examination by 2000-01. These states were:
Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota,
Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, and
Texas.

To determine how many youth participated in the VR, WIA, and Ticket
programs, we analyzed data provided by Education’s Rehabilitation
Services Administration (RSA), Labor’s Employment and Training
Administration, and SSA. Because VR participation data only reflected the
number of youth exited, we obtained from RSA and the Council for State
Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation an estimated number of youth
enrolled for services. We also analyzed data from RSA on types of services
provided to youth.




Page 39                                         GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                       Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts
Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts


                                       Table 8 shows various entities responsible for collecting data, costs of data
                                       collection efforts, and funding sources used by 21 states that routinely
                                       collected data on postsecondary employment and education status of
                                       IDEA youth.

Table 8: State Approaches to Collecting Data on Postsecondary Employment and Education Status of IDEA Youth

                                      Data collectors                                                Cost of effort
                State or
                local      Regional                                                 Cost of data
                school     Resource University      Nonprofit      Private          collection and
State           systems    Center   partner         agency         contractor       analysis              Funding source
Alabama             •                      •                                        Respondent did not Federal State
                                                                                    know               Improvement Grant
                                                                                                       (SIG) funding until
                                                                                                       2002; state and Auburn
                                                                                                       University funds
California          •                                                               Respondent did not IDEA and state funds
                                                                                    know
Delaware                                                                 •          $5 per student        SIG funds initially; state
                                                                                    follow-up survey      funds beginning in 2003
                                                                                    sent (approx.
                                                                                    $4,020 total cost
                                                                                    for following up
                                                                                    with the class of
                                                                                    1999)
Florida             •                                                               Approximately         State funds
                                                                                    $400,000 for the
                                                                                    2002-03 effort to
                                                                                    track about
                                                                                    6 million individuals
Georgia             •                                                               Respondent did not Local school system
                                                                                    know               funds used for data
                                                                                                       collection; IDEA funds
                                                                                                       used for state-level data
                                                                                                       analysis
Idaho                                                                    •          Less than $10 per     IDEA funds
                                                                                    student for 5 years
                                                                                    of follow-up
                                                                                    ($7,900 total for
                                                                                    following up with
                                                                                    the class of 2002)
Indiana             •                                                               Approximately         IDEA funds
                                                                                    $75,000 annually
                                                                                    for state and
                                                                                    district efforts
Kentucky            •                                              Planned          Respondent did not State funds
                                                                                    know




                                       Page 40                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                     Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts




                                    Data collectors                                                Cost of effort
               State or
               local      Regional                                                Cost of data
               school     Resource University     Nonprofit      Private          collection and
State          systems    Center   partner        agency         contractor       analysis               Funding source
Maryland           •                                                              Respondent did not Future funding source
                                                                                  know               not yet determined
Michigan           •                                                   •          Estimated $35,000 SIG funds
                                                                                  for one-time follow-
                                                                                  up with students
                                                                                  graduating
                                                                                  between December
                                                                                  2000 and
                                                                                  November 2001
Missouri           •                                                              Respondent did not State and federal
                                                                                  know               (IDEA, Vocational, and
                                                                                                     Title I) funds
Nebraska           •                                                              Districts receive      IDEA funds
                                                                                  $40 per student
                                                                                  from the state for
                                                                                  follow-up
New York           •                     •                                        Approximately          IDEA funds
                                                                                  $75 per student for
                                                                                  each follow-up
                                                                                  cycle ($2.75 million
                                                                                  for a 7-year
                                                                                  contract)
North Dakota                             •                                        $30,000 annually       IDEA funds
Ohio               •          •          •                                        Estimated              Federal and state
                                                                                  $150,000 annually      funds, and in-kind
                                                                                  if the effort is       university contributions
                                                                                  extended to the
                                                                                  entire state
Texas              •                                                              $220,000 annually      IDEA funds
                                                                                  for 4-year study
Utah                                     •                                        $80,000 for follow-    IDEA funds
                                                                                  up with the classes
                                                                                  of 1997 and 2000
Vermont                                                 •                         Respondent did not IDEA and state funds
                                                                                  know
Virginia                                 •                                        $93,000 for one-       SIG funds
                                                                                  time follow-up with
                                                                                  the class of 1999
Washington         •                     •                                        Approximately          IDEA funds
                                                                                  $71,000 per year




                                     Page 41                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                                                   Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts




                                                                 Data collectors                                                 Cost of effort
                            State or
                            local             Regional                                                          Cost of data
                            school            Resource University                    Nonprofit   Private        collection and
 State                      systems           Center   partner                       agency      contractor     analysis               Funding source
 Wisconsin                         •                                      •                                     First year of the      IDEA funds for follow-
                                                                                                                                                     st rd     th
                                                                                                                5-year contract:       up during 1 , 3 , and 5
                                                                                                                $50,000 (for follow-   year of the contract.
                                                                                                                up with one group      State funds provided to
                                                                                                                of students)           districts for one
                                                                                                                3rd year: $82,000      additional follow-up
                                                                                                                (for follow-up with    during “off years.”
                                                                                                                two groups of          Districts must use their
                                                                                                                students). The 5
                                                                                                                                  th   own funds for any
                                                                                                                year will also         additional follow-ups.
                                                                                                                include two groups
                                                                                                                of students.
Source: Information provided by state officials, December 2002 through April 2003.


                                                                   Table 9 presents various methods used by 21 states to routinely collect
                                                                   data on postsecondary employment and education status of IDEA youth.
                                                                   The table provides information on characteristics of students and school
                                                                   systems that states included in their data collection efforts and the time
                                                                   periods at which data were collected.




                                                                   Page 42                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                                Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts




Table 9: State Methods of Collecting Data on Postsecondary Employment and Education Status of IDEA Youth

                        Students included                                                                  Data collection times
                                                                                                         Number
                                                                                                         of post-       Points in time
                                                     Includes                                            high           when information
                                                     information     School system                       school         on students’
              All      IDEA           Includes       on students’    or district             In-school   follow-        postsecondary
State         students youth          dropouts       disability type participation           information ups            status is collected
Alabama                        •            •                •          Local school         Information     One        1 year
                                                          (Self-        systems              from 11th
                                                      identification)   participating in     grade
                                                                        state transition     student
                                                                        program              survey
                                                                        (approximately
                                                                        38 percent of
                                                                        school systems)
California                     •                             •          Some districts in    Information  Two           1 year
                                                                        Workability          from student               2 years
                                                                        Program              survey
                                                                        (covering
                                                                        approximately
                                                                        75 percent of
                                                                        special
                                                                        education
                                                                        students)
Delaware                       •            •                •          Full district                        One        6 months
                                                                        participation
        a
Florida       •                •            •                           Participation of                     N/A        Annually
                                                                        all students who
                                                                        remain in state
                                                                        after they leave
                                                                        school
Georgia                        •                             •          Full district                        One        February/March
                                                                        participation                                   after exit
Idaho                          •                                        Full district        Information  Three         1 years
                                                                        participation        from student               3 years
                                                                                             exit survey                5 years
Indiana                        •            •                •          Voluntary district   Information  One           4 years
                                                                        participation        from student
                                                                        (approximately       exit survey
                                                                        72 percent of
                                                                        planning
                                                                        districts)
Kentucky            •       Planned                                     Full district        Information  One           October/November
                              after                                     participation        from student               after exit
                             2004                                                            exit survey
Marylandb           •          •                                        Voluntary district   Information  One           1 year
                  (Until                                                participation        from student
                  2003)                                                                      exit survey




                                                Page 43                                                        GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                              Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts




                      Students included                                                              Data collection times
                                                                                                       Number
                                                                                                       of post-    Points in time
                                                   Includes                                            high        when information
                                                   information     School system                       school      on students’
               All      IDEA       Includes        on students’    or district             In-school   follow-     postsecondary
State          students youth      dropouts        disability type participation           information ups         status is collected
Michigan                     •            •               •         Full district                      One         1 to 2 years
                                                                    participation
           c
Missouri          •          •                                      Full district                      One         6 months
                                                                    participation
Nebraska                     •            •               •         Voluntary district                 One         1 to 1.5 years
                                                                    participation
New Yorkd         •          •                            •         Stratified cluster     Information  Three      1 year
                                                                    sample; 2000           from student            3 years
                                                                    sample from 74         exit survey             5 years
                                                                    school districts,
                                                                    2001 sample
                                                                    from 141 school
                                                                    districts
North                        •            •               •         Voluntary district     Information  Three      1 year
      e
Dakota                                                              participation; full    from student            3 years
                                                                    participation          exit survey             5 years
                                                                    beginning in
                                                                    2003
       f
Ohio                         •                            •         6 samples in           Information  One for    1st study year:
                                                                    districts served       from student each       1 and 3 years
                                                                    by 1 of the            records      student    2nd study year:
                                                                    state’s 16                          sample     3 and 5 years
                                                                    Special                             (6
                                                                    Education                           samples    3rd study year:
                                                                    Regional                            total)     1 and 3 years
                                                                    Resource
                                                                    Centers
Texasg                       •                            •         Voluntary district                 One         For class of 1999
                                                                    participation                                  (3 years)
                                                                                                                   For class of 2001
                                                                                                                   (1 year)
Utah                         •            •               •         3 representative                   One or      1st study: class of
                                                                    samples of                         two,        1991 at 1 year
                                                                    students drawn                     depending   2nd study: class of
                                                                    from districts                     on study    1997 at 1 year
                                                                    across the state
                                                                                                                   3rd study: class of
                                                                                                                   1997 at 5 years and
                                                                                                                   class of 2001 at
                                                                                                                   1 year




                                              Page 44                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                                                    Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts




                                   Students included                                                                                Data collection times
                                                                                                                                  Number
                                                                                                                                  of post-           Points in time
                                                                             Includes                                             high               when information
                                                                             information     School system                        school             on students’
                        All      IDEA                   Includes             on students’    or district              In-school   follow-            postsecondary
 State                  students youth                  dropouts             disability type participation            information ups                status is collected
 Vermont                       •                                                                Full district         Information  One               1 year
                                                                                                participation         from student
                                                                                                                      exit survey
 Virginia                                      •                •                    •          Weighted                               One           Class of 1999 at
                                                                                                stratified random                                    2 years
                                                                                                sample from
                                                                                                participating
                                                                                                schools
                                                                                                (29 percent of
                                                                                                schools
                                                                                                participate)
                   h
 Washington                                    •                                     •          Voluntary district    Exit         One               6 months
                                                                                                participation         information
                                                                                                (approximately        from student
                                                                                                90 percent of         records
                                                                                                districts)
 Wisconsin                                     •                                     •          Representative        Exit             Two       1 year
                                                                                                sample of             information      (studies  3 years
                                                                                                students              from student     conducted
                                                                                                (20 percent of        records          every
                                                                                                IDEA students)                         other
                                                                                                                                       year)
Source: Information provided by state officials, December 2002 through April 2003.
                                                                    a
                                                                     Florida does not collect data through surveying. Data are matched across several administrative
                                                                    databases, including: state departments of Education, Corrections, Children and Families; state
                                                                    Agency for Workforce Innovation; and the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Office of Personnel
                                                                    Management, and U.S. Postal Service. The follow-up effort does not include students who leave the
                                                                    state.
                                                                    b
                                                                     Maryland collects data on all students, not specifically on students with disabilities, although it was
                                                                    possible to identify students with disabilities for the class of 2002. Beginning with the class of 2003,
                                                                    only IDEA students will be included in the follow-up effort. In addition, an Anticipated Services Survey
                                                                    is administered to all special education students when they leave high school.
                                                                    c
                                                                     Missouri adds the total numbers of students who are working and who are attending postsecondary
                                                                    school without accounting for those who may be participating in both activities, potentially
                                                                    overestimating the successful transition rate. In addition, nonresponses are often put into the "other"
                                                                    category, thus boosting the response rate.
                                                                    d
                                                                     New York Post School Indicators study is scheduled to last for 7 years. Thereafter, some aspects of
                                                                    the effort may continue.
                                                                    e
                                                                        North Dakota is planning to drop the 5th year of data collection because of a low response rate.
                                                                    f
                                                                    Ohio’s current effort is seen as a pilot project. The Ohio Board of Education has called for statewide
                                                                    surveying of IDEA students beginning in 2004.
                                                                    g
                                                                     Texas’s follow-up survey effort in 2002 included both the class of 1999 and 2001. The state used
                                                                    three different survey versions to shorten the length of each and encourage student participation.




                                                                    Page 45                                                               GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                                                      Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts




                                                                      h
                                                                       Washington encourages districts to participate by requiring them to submit information on students’
                                                                      postsecondary status in order to quality for Local Education Area grants.


                                                                      Figure 4 presents the types of data on IDEA youth’s postsecondary
                                                                      employment and education status available in 21 states with routine data
                                                                      collection efforts.

Figure 4: Types of Postsecondary Employment and Education Data Available in States

                                                                   Employment                          Education                   Overall              Other areas
                                                                                        rs ion




                                                                                   ra ege
                                                                                                t
                                                        lle niv uni uca

                                                                                            ity




                                                                                             n
                                                                                            g




                                                                                            e
                                                                                           ll




                                                                   ed ed tio
                                                                                         in
                                                                                        ed




                                                                                        nc
                                                                               pe e
                                                                                       co




                                                                                     nc
                                                                                      in




                                                                                       a
                                                                                     ve




                                                                             at in




                                                                                    rie
                                                                                     y




                                                             ar nro uc
                                                                                     y
                                                                                   ty




                                                                                    n
                                                                       uc in

                                                                                    n




                                                                     ng rie
                                           ye olle leg dar




                                                                                  ar




                                                                        uc ot
                                                                                io
                                                                    om ity




                                                                                  o
                                                                                ni




                                                                               ed
                                                                               lt




                                                                                e
                                                                    am nd




                                                                                i




                                                                               e
                                                                    ed r n




                                                  tio wo nc
                                                                             at
                                                   ed r te mu




                                                                          ex
                                                                             n




                                                               io ica
                                                                             s




                                                                          xp
                                                                             r




                                                                          y

                                                                            l
                                                                         er
                                                            co co

                                                            ge e o




                                                  po ogr co




                                                                          l


                                                               ry o




                                                                        ie
                                                                         p




                                                                       ar
                                                                        e




                                                          pl k e
                                                                       n
                                                                       e




                                                                    ho
                                                                      m




                                                          da ed




                                          an hoo per
                                                                    se




                                                          pr se



                                                                   nd
                                         om uc ch
                                                       d tim
                                                                  -ti




                                                                  ni
                                                                   r
                                                        nd e
                                                                  n
                                                                ks




                                                                 /c
                                                                 st




                                                                  y
                                                    co /u




                                                       n st




                                          du of l n
                                       po loy eco



                                                                y




                                                 sc l ex
                                                      on lo




                                                              an
                                                               rt




                                                                s
                                                                l




                                                    co nd
                                                 oy ull-




                                                              io
                                                            ge
                                                lle po




                                                    io o
                                                            or




                                                           ce
                                                          pa




                                                          ife
                                                           at




                                                            p
                                                 at d p




                                                          at




                                                            l
                                                          o




                                               se a
                                                         w




                                                se m
                                                          s




                                                       oo
                                                          f




                                                        vi
                                                       in
                                                         n




                                         ua situ
                                                       st

                                            st ed
                                          du nal
                              ed

                                     ed




                                                       n
                                            st t e
                                                       i
                                       En red




                                           uc te




                                                     er

                                                     h
                                                     e




                                                     d
                                       En ed




                                                    c
                                                   c




                                                 sc
                            oy

                                   oy




                                       ed ple
                                       Sh ry




                                                   s
                                       po no
                                                tio




                                                  y
                                               ar




                                              ng
                                               te




                                               ar
                                                ll




                                               si
                                              lit
                                               lt




                                               lt
                                              ta




                                             er
                          pl



                                       pl
                                pl




                                            ro
                                            ro




                                             p




                                             h

                                             h
                                           ca
                                           el




                                          hy
                                          ye




                                          vi
                                          ili




                                       Em




                                         ig

                                         ig
                       Em




                                         th
                                    Em
                             Em




State
                                       Vo
                                       2-




                                       Li
                                          M




                                       A




                                       W




                                       Tr
                                       A
                                       4-




                                       H

                                       H
                                       O




                                       Q
                                       C




Alabama              ●      ●      ●      ●          ●     ●                  ●                 ●              ●     ●    ●        ●    ●

California           ●      ●      ●      ●    ●     ●            ●       ●   ●      ●          ●              ●     ●    ●    ●

Delaware             ●      ●      ●      ●          ●                        ●                 ●                    ●

Florida              ●      ●                        ●     ●      ●       ●   ●                 ●     ●                        ●

Georgia                     ●      ●           ●           ●                  ●                       ●        ●

Idaho                ●      ●      ●      ●                       ●       ●   ●                                      ●    ●    ●   ●

Indiana              ●      ●      ●      ●    ●     ●     ●      ●       ●   ●          ●      ●              ●     ●    ●    ●

Kentucky             ●      ●             ●                ●                  ●                       ●

Maryland             ●      ●      ●      ●          ●            ●       ●   ●                 ●              ●                   ●

Michigan             ●      ●      ●      ●          ●            ●       ●   ●                 ●                    ●    ●

Missouri             ●                    ●                       ●       ●                     ●

Nebraska             ●      ●      ●      ●    ●     ●            ●       ●   ●                 ●              ●     ●    ●    ●   ●    ●    ●

New York             ●      ●      ●      ●    ●           ●                  ●      ●          ●              ●     ●    ●    ●   ●    ●

North Dakota         ●      ●      ●                 ●                                                               ●    ●    ●   ●

Ohio                 ●      ●      ●      ●          ●            ●       ●   ●      ●          ●                    ●    ●    ●   ●    ●    ●

Texas                ●      ●      ●      ●          ●            ●       ●   ●      ●   ●      ●              ●     ●    ●    ●   ●         ●
Utah                 ●      ●      ●      ●    ●     ●            ●       ●   ●      ●          ●              ●     ●    ●    ●   ●    ●

Vermont                     ●             ●                       ●       ●                     ●

Virginia             ●      ●      ●      ●    ●     ●     ●      ●       ●   ●      ●          ●     ●        ●     ●    ●    ●   ●    ●    ●

Washington           ●      ●      ●                 ●            ●       ●   ●                 ●     ●              ●    ●    ●             ●
Wisconsin            ●      ●      ●      ●    ●                  ●       ●   ●      ●   ●      ●     ●        ●     ●    ●    ●   ●    ●    ●

Source: Information provided by state officials, December 2002 through April 2003.




                                                                      Page 46                                                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                         Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts




                                         Table 10 identifies possible uses of data on IDEA students’ postsecondary
                                         employment and education status, and provides examples from state
                                         education officials on how data are being used at the state and local levels
                                         for each data use category identified.

Table 10: State Examples of Using Postsecondary Employment and Education Status Data

Type of data use                         State example
Providing regular reports on students’   Washington’s postsecondary outcome survey is conducted by a university contractor
outcomes to school systems               who sends 2 page outcome summaries to each school district participating in the student
                                         follow-up effort. The summaries include comparisons between student outcomes in the
                                         district and in the state, as well as results disaggregated by gender, race, and disability
                                         type.
Providing feedback to school             Florida produces annual reports of students’ outcomes that are then used to provide
systems on their performance             feedback to school districts and schools on the success of their programs. The reports
                                         are also used by parents and students in helping them choose local programs that show
                                         the greatest success.
Setting baseline for future transition   Missouri’s improvement plan places a priority on improving postsecondary outcomes for
efforts                                  students with disabilities. As a consequence, the state will use current postsecondary
                                         data to set a baseline to measure future progress.
Monitoring compliance with IDEA          Alabama uses postsecondary outcome data for conducing self-assessment and
requirements and delivery of special     developing self-improvement plan as part of the state’s monitoring effort. A statewide task
education services in the state          force of transition experts and transition stakeholders was created to use the outcome
                                         data for identifying areas for further improvement and implementing the improvement
                                         plan.
Conducting program planning or           Indiana’s Director of the Division of Exceptional Learners uses postsecondary outcome
budgeting at the state level             data when negotiating the state budget and determining state appropriations.
Rewarding local school systems           Kentucky holds schools accountable for students’ transition from high school, and
                                         schools with high rates of students experiencing a successful transition outcome may
                                         receive financial rewards.
Targeting technical assistance to        New York redesigned the technical assistance provided by its seven Transition
school districts or schools              Coordination Sites, based in part on data from its postsecondary outcome survey. As a
                                         result, technical assistance activities were shifted from training conferences to more
                                         individualized strategic planning with teams from individual schools. Data are used to
                                         identify struggling school districts in order to direct assistance to them.
Assessing or improving transition        Virginia has incorporated postsecondary outcome data into a study aimed at assessing
programs                                 transition services across the state. When completed, the study will include responses
                                         from consumers of transition services (both parents and students), transition specialists,
                                         and adult service providers. Outcome data will also be used in a statewide evaluation of
                                         middle and secondary education programs for students with disabilities with the goal of
                                         improving their academic achievement and postsecondary outcomes.
Conducting monitoring or program         Wisconsin began collecting postsecondary outcome data in response to a state statute
planning at the local school system      requiring the reporting of student outcomes. By collecting data, school districts not only
level                                    are able to fulfill this requirement, but also identify specific needs and develop their
                                         special education plans to address those needs.




                                         Page 47                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                                                   Appendix II: State Data Collection Efforts




 Type of data use                                                  State example
 Adding, sustaining, or improving                                  Maryland’s postsecondary follow-up study helps local school systems develop more
 programs at the local school system                               effective transition services that are targeted to addressing students’ needs. For example,
 level                                                             one county found that few students were connected with postsecondary education
                                                                   institutions. In response, county officials established a transition program that emphasizes
                                                                   linkages with community colleges for students while they are still in high school. As a
                                                                   result, students ages 18 to 21 who are still attending high school are able to attend
                                                                   community college computer and physical education courses to help prepare for
                                                                   employment.
 Establishing linkages with adult                                  California’s transition program staff are able to reconnect with former students while
 service providers                                                 following-up to collect data on their postsecondary status. Students who are not
                                                                   participating in productive work or learning activities or who report other problems are
                                                                   provided with information on potentially beneficial services in the course of the follow-up
                                                                   process.
Source: GAO analysis of data from interviews with state officials, December 2002 through April 2003.




                                                                   Page 48                                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
               Appendix III: State Waiting Lists for
Appendix III: State Waiting Lists for
               Vocational Rehabilitation Services in Fiscal
               Year 2001


Vocational Rehabilitation Services in Fiscal
Year 2001
               The table below lists the states that, at the end of fiscal year 2001, had
               waiting lists for vocational rehabilitation services because the state did not
               have sufficient funds to serve all individuals who were determined eligible
               for the program.


                State                                                                                          Number of individuals
                Washington                                                                                                      6,245
                Wisconsin                                                                                                       5,098
                California                                                                                                      3,602
                Tennessee                                                                                                       3,166
                Pennsylvania                                                                                                    2,949
                Kansas                                                                                                          2,855
                Louisiana                                                                                                       2,127
                Ohio                                                                                                            1,578
                New Jersey                                                                                                      1,498
                Oklahoma                                                                                                         298
                Maine                                                                                                            276
                Nebraska                                                                                                         135
                Kentucky                                                                                                         132
                Illinois                                                                                                          51
                Maryland                                                                                                          43
                Rhode Island                                                                                                      41
                Minnesota                                                                                                         39
                Oregon                                                                                                            34
                Arkansas                                                                                                          33
                Connecticut                                                                                                       16
                Georgia                                                                                                            4
                Delaware                                                                                                           4
                Michigan                                                                                                           3
                Mississippi                                                                                                        1
                Idaho                                                                                                              1
                Total                                                                                                          30,229
               Source: GAO analysis of data provided by the Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration.




               Page 49                                                                               GAO-03-773 Special Education
               Appendix IV: Youth Eligible to Participate in
Appendix IV: Youth Eligible to Participate in
               the Ticket Program as of June 2003



the Ticket Program as of June 2003

               The table below shows the number of youth ages 18 to 21 eligible to
               participate in the first two phases of the Ticket program’s implementation.


               State                                                                Number
               Phase one states: February 2002
               Arizona                                                                 3,480
               Colorado                                                                1,837
               Delaware                                                                 541
               Florida                                                               11,265
               Illinois                                                              10,096
               Iowa                                                                    2,261
               Massachusetts                                                           4,427
               New York                                                              12,184
               Oklahoma                                                                2,868
               Oregon                                                                  2,240
               South Carolina                                                          2,951
               Vermont                                                                  516
               Wisconsin                                                               3,999
               Phase one total                                                       58,665
               Phase two states: November 2002
               Alaska                                                                   417
               Arkansas                                                                2,499
               Connecticut                                                             1,949
               Georgia                                                                 5,612
               Indiana                                                                 4,017
               Kansas                                                                  1,847
               Kentucky                                                                4,540
               Louisiana                                                               5,179
               Michigan                                                                7,505
               Mississippi                                                             3,143
               Missouri                                                                4,346
               Montana                                                                  602
               Nevada                                                                  1,023
               New Hampshire                                                            719
               New Jersey                                                              4,187
               New Mexico                                                              1,466
               North Dakota                                                             341
               South Dakota                                                             569




               Page 50                                          GAO-03-773 Special Education
Appendix IV: Youth Eligible to Participate in
the Ticket Program as of June 2003




 State                                                                                             Number
 Tennessee                                                                                            4,290
 Virginia                                                                                             4,382
 District of Columbia                                                                                  519
 Phase two total                                                                                    59,152
Source: GAO analysis of data provided by the Social Security Administration.

Note: The Social Security Administration plans to implement the program in the remaining 17 states
and the U.S. territories by 2004.




Page 51                                                                        GAO-03-773 Special Education
                                                             Appendix V: Availability of Medicaid Buy-In to
Appendix V: Availability of Medicaid Buy-In                  Working People with Disabilities as of May
                                                             2003


to Working People with Disabilities as of May
2003
                                                             The map below shows which states offer working people with disabilities
                                                             the opportunity to maintain Medicaid benefits while receiving income
                                                             from work.




                           Wash.

                                                   Mont.                                                                                                         Maine
                                                                        N.Dak.
                     Oreg.                                                                                                                                 Vt.
                                                                                           Minn.
                                                                                                                                                                         N.H.
                                          Idaho
                                                                        S.Dak.                            Wisc.                                     N.Y.                 Mass.
                                                     Wyo.                                                            Mich.
                                                                                                                                                                         R.I.
                            Nev.                                                             Iowa                                             Pa.                        Conn.
                                                                          Nebr.
                                            Utah                                                                             Ohio                                        N.J.
                                                                                                             Ill.   Ind.
                                                           Colo.                                                                                                         Del.
                Calif.                                                                                                              W.Va.
                                                                            Kans.                  Mo.                                        Va.                        Md.
                                                                                                                           Ky.
                                                                                                                                                                         D.C.
                                                                                                                                            N.C.
                                                                                                                    Tenn.
                                          Ariz.                                    Okla.
                                                     N.Mex.                                        Ark.                                S.C.

                                                                                                            Miss.   Ala.         Ga.

          Hawaii                                                            Tex.                    La.


                                                                                                                                       Fla.


                                     Alaska




                                                                       Available

                                                                       Not Available

Source: Social Security Administration.




                                                             Page 52                                                                        GAO-03-773 Special Education
             Appendix VI: Comments from the Department
Appendix VI: Comments from the
             of Education



Department of Education




             Page 53                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
Appendix VI: Comments from the Department
of Education




Page 54                                     GAO-03-773 Special Education
             Appendix VII: Comments from the
Appendix VII: Comments from the
             Department of Labor



Department of Labor




             Page 55                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
Appendix VII: Comments from the
Department of Labor




Page 56                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
Appendix VII: Comments from the
Department of Labor




Page 57                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
              Appendix VIII: Comments from the Social Security Administration
Appendix VIII: Comments from the Social
Security Administration




              Page 58                                                  GAO-03-773 Special Education
Appendix VIII: Comments from the Social Security Administration




Page 59                                                  GAO-03-773 Special Education
                  Appendix IX: GAO Contacts and Staff
Appendix IX: GAO Contacts and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  Lacinda Ayers (206) 654-5591
GAO Contacts      Tranchau Nguyen (202) 512-2660


                  In addition to those named above, Natalya Bolshun, Julianne Hartman
Staff             Cutts, Molly Laster, and Adam Roye made key contributions to this report.
Acknowledgments   Barbara Alsip, Carl Barden, Carolyn Boyce, Stefanie Bzdusek,
                  Patrick DiBattista, Behn Kelly, and John Smale also provided key technical
                  assistance.




(130158)
                              Page 60                           GAO-03-773 Special Education
                         The General Accounting Office, the audit, evaluation and investigative arm of
GAO’s Mission            Congress, exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities
                         and to help improve the performance and accountability of the federal
                         government for the American people. GAO examines the use of public funds;
                         evaluates federal programs and policies; and provides analyses,
                         recommendations, and other assistance to help Congress make informed
                         oversight, policy, and funding decisions. GAO’s commitment to good government
                         is reflected in its core values of accountability, integrity, and reliability.


                         The fastest and easiest way to obtain copies of GAO documents at no cost is
Obtaining Copies of      through the Internet. GAO’s Web site (www.gao.gov) contains abstracts and full-
GAO Reports and          text files of current reports and testimony and an expanding archive of older
                         products. The Web site features a search engine to help you locate documents
Testimony                using key words and phrases. You can print these documents in their entirety,
                         including charts and other graphics.
                         Each day, GAO issues a list of newly released reports, testimony, and
                         correspondence. GAO posts this list, known as “Today’s Reports,” on its Web site
                         daily. The list contains links to the full-text document files. To have GAO e-mail
                         this list to you every afternoon, go to www.gao.gov and select “Subscribe to e-mail
                         alerts” under the “Order GAO Products” heading.


Order by Mail or Phone   The first copy of each printed report is free. Additional copies are $2 each. A
                         check or money order should be made out to the Superintendent of Documents.
                         GAO also accepts VISA and Mastercard. Orders for 100 or more copies mailed to a
                         single address are discounted 25 percent. Orders should be sent to:
                         U.S. General Accounting Office
                         441 G Street NW, Room LM
                         Washington, D.C. 20548
                         To order by Phone:     Voice:    (202) 512-6000
                                                TDD:      (202) 512-2537
                                                Fax:      (202) 512-6061


                         Contact:
To Report Fraud,
                         Web site: www.gao.gov/fraudnet/fraudnet.htm
Waste, and Abuse in      E-mail: fraudnet@gao.gov
Federal Programs         Automated answering system: (800) 424-5454 or (202) 512-7470


                         Jeff Nelligan, Managing Director, NelliganJ@gao.gov (202) 512-4800
Public Affairs           U.S. General Accounting Office, 441 G Street NW, Room 7149
                         Washington, D.C. 20548