The U.S. Department of Education's special education center has proposed four new research priorities for grant competitions in 2013 and beyond.
In an announcement this week in the Federal Register, Michael K. Yudin, the acting assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services called for new research in:
• Community living and participation for those with physical disabilities, such as blindness or hearing loss;
• Employment for physically disabled people;
• Health and function of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities; and
• Community living and participation for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
In the midst of a national debate on getting students ready for college and careers after high school, there has been growing concern that students with physical and intellectual disabilities have a rough time with the post-high school transition; college-going rates are lower and unemployment rates higher among the one in five Americans who has a disability. Last summer, the Government Accountability Office roundly criticized federal programs to help graduating students with disabilities make the transition, as well as those intended to help those with disabilities find work.
In both cases, the GAO found federal programs disparate and largely uncoordinated among the Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services departments, and the Social Security Administration. The researchers found it difficult for students and their families to navigate the different program requirements to receive help, and there was little evidence of which programs were actually effective in helping students with disabilities go on to college and careers.
I'll be interested to see if the forthcoming research competitions can fill some of those gaps.