More Students with Disabilities Heading to College

Posted on February 02, 2012

Photo By ralph and jenny

Postsecondary options expanding

When Andrew Van Cleave thought about what he wanted to do after high school, this son of two university graduates came up with the same answer many his age come up with: go to college.

Until the past decade, though, college wasn’t much of an option for students, including Mr. Van Cleave, who have significant intellectual impairments. This month, the 24-year-old, who has an intellectual disability and ADHD, became one of the first graduates of a two-year program at Vanderbilt University designed for students with severe cognitive disabilities. He starts a job next month.

Vanderbilt’s Next Steps program is one of many created for this group of students in the last 10 years. The programs have grown in number from about 15 in 2002 to almost 170 now, as tracked by Think College, a Boston organization that does research about this new breed of programs and offers guidance about them for professionals, families, and students.

The growth is due in part to changes in federal law that have increased the expectations of such students in elementary and secondary school.

Author: Nirvi Shah, Education Week

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