Evaluation of the Vermont Linking Learning to Careers Model

2017-2021

High school students with disabilities face obstacles in their transition to adulthood and typically underperform their peers without disabilities regarding postsecondary education and employment. To increase their chances of success, students have to develop professional soft skills and networks, understand how their capacity and interests align with potential careers, and know what supports they need.

The Vermont Division of Vocational Rehabilitation designed and is piloting the Linking Learning to Careers (LLC) program, a five-year statewide initiative to improve the college and career readiness of high school students with disabilities. The program builds on existing vocational rehabilitation (VR) services, engaging students in additional services to help them transition successfully to adulthood. The services include work-based learning experiences aligned with students’ individual plans, dual-enrollment opportunities, transportation assistance, and access to assistive technologies. All services are offered in a team-based environment, with several professionals working with each student.

The Rehabilitation Services Administration awarded five-year grants to state VR agencies to identify and demonstrate evidence-based practices for providing work-based learning experiences in integrated settings. VR agencies in five states received awards: California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Vermont. Mathematica conducts the evaluations of the Maryland and Vermont demonstrations.

Mathematica is randomly assigning 800 high school students over a two-year period to receive LLC or core services. The evaluation includes:

  • Follow-up surveys of students 24 months after enrollment
  • Collection of education and employment data
  • An evaluation of the use of assistive technology by students in LLC
  • Ongoing formative evaluations using program administrative data
  • An impact analysis to assess whether the employment and postsecondary outcomes of students enrolled in LLC differed from those in the core services group
  • A final formative evaluation based on program implementation records and site visits
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