In 2015, OOD formalized a progressive career development path for students with disabilities who applied for VR services through its Transition Services procedure (80-VR-11-12). Progressive career development services are designed to support a student with a disability to successfully transition from school to work. The services are intended to be delivered sequentially to help a student move from basic developmental activities to those requiring more skills and increased independence. Typical services provided include Summer Youth - Career Exploration, Summer Youth Work Experiences and Non-permanent Job Development (services to facilitate after-school or summer employment opportunities for students with disabilities), all of which align with the newly-defined pre-employment transition services.
Mathematica Policy Research on Progressive Career Development Services.In 2017, OOD partnered with Mathematica Policy Research to specifically address the following questions related to its Transition Services procedure:
To conduct this analysis, Mathematica examined service receipt and case status data among students with disabilities who applied for OOD services during federal fiscal years 2014 to 2017 and signed an Individualized Plan for Employment. Mathematica utilized the VR Program Evaluation Coach, a statistical analysis tool, to compare outcomes between students with disabilities who received one or more of the progressive career development services (treatment group) and students with disabilities who did not receive one or more of the progressive career development services (comparison group) to determine if the service resulted in improved outcomes. In this analysis, the improved outcome was defined as continued engagement with VR.
Service data was limited to include only purchased services. OOD also provided non-purchased services to students, and these services are not reflected in the data. While many students received one or more purchased progressive career development services, a majority had not received any of these services. Chart 13 below illustrates the receipt of any progressive career development service among OOD participants with an IPE that were students with disabilities at application.
Chart 13 - Receipt of Progressive Career Development Services Among Students with Disabilities
The rate of receipt fluctuates by application year, partly reflecting the roll-out of progressive career development in 2015 but also highlighting that more recent applicants have not had open cases for as long; as of the date of this analysis most still had open cases (22 percent of 2014 applicants, 47 percent of 2015 applicants, 80 percent of 2016 applicants, and 99 percent of 2017 applicants). Among 2017 applicants, 24 percent had received at least one service.
Just over 30 percent of 2014 and 2015 applicants with an IPE received only a summer youth work experience, as shown on Chart 14 below. While career exploration was authorized much less frequently, receipt is higher among more recent applicants. Non-permanent job development was authorized the least and about 5 percent of students received more than one of the three services.
Chart 14 - Progressive Career Development Services for Students with Disabilities
A comparison of case status in September 2017 suggests that students who received at least one of the services are more likely to continue engagement with VR, even for those who applied as early as 2014. That is, they are less likely to have their case closed for reasons other than rehabilitation and are more likely to still be receiving services or have closed rehabilitated. Chart 15 below illustrates the percentages of cases, by year of application, which were open as of September 2017 or had closed with a successful rehabilitation outcome. (Mathematica, 2018)
Chart 15 - Percent of Participants with Open Cases or Rehabilitated with Closed Cases in September 2017, by Receipt of Any Summer Youth Transition Services
VR Program Evaluation Coach - Service Analysis.The CSNA team conducted a secondary analysis utilizing the VR Program Evaluation Coach to determine if a specific transition service or services have an increased probability of leading to job readiness, placement in employment or a successful closure. The CSNA team compared outcomes between students with disabilities who received the specific transition service (treatment group) and students with disabilities who did not receive the specific transition service (comparison group) to determine if the service resulted in a greater probability of one of the three outcomes.
The program evaluation used a matched comparison design. Students in both the treatment and comparison groups had similar observable characteristics, controlling for age at application, whether the student was receiving services under an Individualized Education Program (IEP), disability priority category (Most Significant Disability, Significant Disability, and Disability), gender and race. The population in both groups was limited to only those students whose cases had closed prior to the evaluation. The team tested four transition-specific services: Summer Youth - Career Exploration, Summer Youth Work Experience, School-based Job Readiness Training and Non-permanent Job Development.
Summer Youth Work Experience services are intended to help students with disabilities become job ready by assisting them to obtain vocational skills, learn appropriate work behaviors and communication and interpersonal skills. The team tested whether receipt of the service increased the probability that the student achieved job readiness or started employment as compared to students with disabilities who did not receive the service. Results indicate there is a 12 percent probability that receipt of this service has an impact on these outcomes.
Two of the four services - Summer Youth Work Experience and Summer Youth Career Exploration, did not appear to have a correlation with the student obtaining an employment outcome. The team also evaluated whether multiple summer youth work experiences increased the likelihood of an employment outcome and found a 21 percent probability that receiving more than one summer youth work experience improved employment outcomes.
By comparison, School-based Job Readiness Training and Non-permanent Job Development resulted in 100 percent and 98 percent probability, respectively, that receipt of these services did have a positive impact on increasing employment outcomes.
School-based Job Readiness Training is a series of several short-term rotations or internships that take place at a host business and are intended to prepare participants to be job ready and to secure permanent employment. Non-permanent Job Development is a service to help a student with a disability obtain summer or after-school employment, typical of jobs that students without disabilities may experience. One explanation for this result could be that the two services with a greater probability of increasing employment outcomes more closely resemble the workplace, include direct involvement with an employer, and allow for more independent completion of work activities.