A follow-up study of 1989-90 graduates and dropouts with learning disabilities participating in vocational programs in a large urban school system

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Virginia Tech


More than four million disabled individuals, of whom forty percent are learning disabled, receive special education support in part by federal funds, as provided by Public Law 94-142 (U.S. Department of Education, 1985). Several programs are designed to serve these students. Unfortunately, increasing numbers of students with learning disabilities are dropping out of the school system before completing these programs.

This study was designed to describe a number of demographic and school experience factors associated with learning disabilities. Subjects included 70 (46 males and 24 females) graduates and dropouts who participated in a shared time vocational education program at six career centers in a large urban public school system, and exited in 1989 and 1990. Follow-up data were collected from former students, parents, or relatives by telephone or mail survey. Data were collected in the following categories: further education and training, independent living status, employment history and experience, rating of occupational skills, and support service delivery. Data were presented in a descriptive format.

Results revealed that the majority of graduates and dropouts were not adjusting to their post-school life, especially dropouts. Few sought further education and training, and most of the students were still living with their parents. Although half of the students were working, the majority were not working in the occupation in which they were trained. Those students who were working in the occupation in which they were trained were in child care, barbering, and business.



special education, secondary