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Community College: A Pathway to Success for Youth with Learning, Cognitive, and Intellectual Disabilities in Secondary Settings

By: Debra Hart, Joan Mele-McCarthy, Robert H. Pasternack, Karen Zimbrich, and David R. Parker

Abstract: Traditionally, youth with learning, cognitive, and intellectual disabilities (LCID) have not been given the option of participating in and thus benefiting from a postsecondary education. There are school districts and community colleges across the country, however, that are creating opportunities for these youth to have the option of meaningful participation in a postsecondary education while still in secondary school (i.e., Dual Enrollment). The present study involved a national survey of 25 postsecondary education options that support youth with LCID in postsecondary education while still enrolled in secondary school as an empirical foundation for future research on these service models. The main findings indicate that although most programs provide some combination of “life-skills” training and community-based instruction combined with employment training, some innovative service models (i.e., Inclusive Programs) focus primarily on inclusive postsecondary educational services for students with LCID. Inclusive programs tend to be relatively new, to serve fewer individuals than other service models, and are more collaborative (i.e., high schools, colleges and adult service agencies support students). Main survey findings are presented and discussed, followed by detailed profiles of six programs, and recommendations for future research are presented.
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