School -to -work transition: A comparison of regular and special education high school seniors

Barbara Marie Weisent, Fordham University


This study had a dual purpose: first, to develop a survey instrument that validly and reliably measures aspects of school-to-work transition; second, to compare regular education and learning disabled special education seniors in academic and vocational high schools on school-to-work transition using the survey instrument School-To-Work Transition Scale. This study examines the relationship between demographic variables, socioeconomic variables, school achievement variables, and student feelings about the future with the transition subscales of the School-To-Work Transition Scale. Mainstreaming of students in academic and vocational programs is compared. ^ The survey instrument provides a way for practitioners and educational leaders to conceptualize and measure school-to-work transition practices in the following four dimensions: guided paid work experience, acquisition of self-determination skills, family participation in career planning, and acquisition of vocational/technical training. Content validity was established by a group of experts reaching 90% agreement on 37 statements included in the subscales. Test-retest reliability and internal consistency of the instrument exceeded .77 for all subscales. ^ The survey was administered to a total sample of 100 general and special education seniors in academic and vocational high schools. Data were analyzed using appropriate parametric and nonparametric statistical techniques. ^ Results show significant differences in the acquisition of transition skills among the four groups. Two distinct patterns emerged: (a) regular and special education seniors in vocational programs have greater acquisition of transition skills than their academic peers; (b) seniors in academic programs lag behind their vocational counterparts in the acquisition of guided paid work experience, self-determination skills acquisition, and vocational/technical skill acquisition. ^ The major conclusions that can be derived from this study are: (a) the majority of urban youths plan to attend college upon high school graduation; (b) Black women plan to attend college in greater percentages than either their Black male or Latino peers; (c) general education academic students do not perceive their high school program as preparing them for life; (d) general education academic students lag behind their peers in work experience, self-determination skills, and the involvement of family in career planning; (e) vocational students in both general and special education programs are better prepared for life than their academic peers in terms of work experience, acquisition of vocational/technical skills, and self-determination skills; (f) students in special education programs experience greater family involvement in career planning than general education students; (g) increased mainstreaming correlates with increased transition skill acquisition; and (h) greater mainstreaming correlates with higher school averages. ^

Subject Area

Education, Secondary|Education, Technology of|Education, Vocational

Recommended Citation

Weisent, Barbara Marie, "School -to -work transition: A comparison of regular and special education high school seniors" (1999). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9923447.