National Longitudinal Transition Study of Special
Education Students, 1987-1991
In 1983, the U.S. Congress mandated a national study of special education students' experiences with transition out of school and into adult life. The study was conducted to provide practitioners, policy makers, researchers, and other special education affiliates with information that describes the transition that disabled youth make from secondary school to early adulthood. It was further to identify factors that contribute to youths' effective transition from secondary school to employment, further training or education, and independent living. The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education contracted with SRI International to develop a research design, craft and field test data collection instruments, and select a sample of students for a study that would meet the congressional mandate. In April 1987, under a separate contract, SRI began data collection for The National Longitudinal Transition Study of Special Education Students, 1987-1991 (NLTS).
The sample for the NLTS involves more than 8,000 youth aged 13 or older and in grade seven or higher. This sample represents the national population of secondary special education students in the 1985-86 school year. Furthermore, the sample was drawn so that findings generalize to students in secondary special education in 1985-1986, both as a whole and separately for students in each of the 11 federal special education disability categories. Data were first gathered in 1987 (referred to as Wave 1) and again in 1990-91 (referred to as Wave 2). Therefore, youths' patterns of experiences through secondary school and into their early adult years could be charted over time.
These data are arranged into two files: a main file containing 2,749 variables on 9,156 cases and a hierarchical transcript data file containing 492 variables for 6,600 cases.