Newman, L. A., & Madaus, J. W. (2015). Reported accommodations and supports provided to secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities: National perspective . Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals , 38 (3), 173–181.

Journal Article

Newman, L. A., & Madaus, J. W. (2015). Reported accommodations and supports provided to secondary and postsecondary students with disabilities: National perspective. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 38(3), 173–181.


Attention problem; Autism; Emotional/Behavioral disability; Hearing impairment (including deafness); High school; Intellectual disabilities; K-12; Learning disabilities; Multiple disabilities; Physical disability; Postsecondary; Speech/Language disability; U.S. context; Visual impairment (including blindness)




This study analyzed secondary data regarding use patterns of various types of disability-related services collectively, and also by type: accommodations, modifications, academic service, and other services. The researchers contrasted the incidence of accommodations use in high school versus postsecondary education, as well as patterns across different types of postsecondary institution: two-year college, four-year college, and career and technical education programs. Emphasis was placed in this summary on academic accommodations information, and when possible, exam accommodations.


An extant longitudinal dataset from the second National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS2) was examined; the data from participants who had ever attended postsecondary education programs including two-year and four-year institutions and career and technical education schools within that dataset numbered approximately 3,190. The data were drawn from students with complete data samples from NLTS2's Waves 2, 3, 4, and 5 (2003-2009). Additional demographic information describing the population of students with disabilities was reported in the study's results, including gender, race/ethnicity, family income, and disability category. Students were from all of the federal categories of disabilities, with about 69% of them being students with learning disabilities.

Dependent Variable

Participating students' data included self-report of receiving accommodations and other services to support disabilities in postsecondary education programs, and collected through phone interviews or paper surveys. Additional independent variable data were provided to NLTS2 by students, students' parents, and school personnel. The data analyses examined the relation between postsecondary accommodations use and 1) high school accommodations use, 2) various student characteristics, such as demographics and disability categories, and 3) types of postsecondary education programs.


Students with disabilities indicated using disability-related services of any kind in high school at the rate of about 98%, and in postsecondary education at the rate of about 24%. (About 6% of students indicated that they had requested but had not yet begun receiving services.) Of the student sample, about 95% used accommodations in high school, and about 23% of them used accommodations at the postsecondary level; this marked a statistically significant decrease in accommodations use rate. The accommodations use rate varied across types of postsecondary institutions: about 15% in career and technical education, about 22% in four-year colleges, and about 23% in two-year colleges. About 35% of the students informed their postsecondary institution of their disabilities, 50% did not consider themselves to have a disability, and about 14% indicated that they chose not to disclose their disability, and then did not seek accommodations. The most commonly used accommodations were test-related accommodations, most often extended time and alternate settings; about 88% used test accommodations in high school and 21% did so in postsecondary education. Specifically, 12% of the student sample used test accommodations in career and technical education, 20% at four-year colleges, and 21% at two-year colleges. These rates by types of postsecondary program were found not to differ in statistical significance. The sustantial drop in use of various disability-related services, including test accommodations, between high school and postsecondary education might be attributed to a number of reasons. The researchers commented that these reasons might include the perception for postsecondary students with disabilities that they do not experience disability-associated academic challenges, or an ongoing lack of full understanding of their disabilities and accommodations during high school and into postsecondary education, or a lack of information about "the differences in legal rights and responsibilities between high school and postsecondary school" (p. 7). The researchers asserted the need for improvements in transition-planning programs in high schools to prepare students with disabilities for postsecondary education. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research directions were suggested.