After two and a half years of reporting under the Work Experience For High School Students with Disabilities Act, one thing is clear: The Office of Vocational Rehabilitation’s (OVR) data and the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s (PDE) data continues to be unreliable, making it difficult to discern if any progress is being made.
For example, in Quarter 1, Table 2 indicated that there were 130,000 students with “IEPs Transition Status” and thus eligible for transition services. This number was consistent with previous reports. Yet, the Quarter 2, report indicated that there were more than 145,000 students with “IEPs Transition Status.” There was no explanation for this large discrepancy from one quarter to the next. The table below shows the changes in this category for the counties with the three largest school districts from 2018-2019 to 2019-2020. Changes in the numbers for the three largest counties only account for approximately half of the disparity between quarters one and two. PDE provides OVR the data for Table 2 and updates the data in Table 2 annually in November. PDE should provide OVR with an explanation of any significant changes in the data and OVR should include it in these reports so that readers understand the vagaries.
IEPs Transition Status
|Year||Allegheny County||Bucks County||Philadelphia County|
Another example of the discrepancies between the Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 reports was in the category of “High School Students with Disabilities Who Entered Competitive Employment Within 3 Months of Graduation.” This data point is critical because the main purpose of the services provided to students through OVR is so students have the skills to become employed once they graduate. The Quarter 1 report did not include this information. Instead, it stated, “there were 350 participants who were previously coded as a Student with a Disability at some point and achieved competitive integrated employment during Quarter 1 of 2019-2020.” The metric “High School Students Who Entered Competitive Integrated Employment Within 3 Months Of Graduation” is required under the Act.
Apparently only nine (9) students entered competitive integrated employment within three months of graduation in Quarter 2.
The Quarter 2 report provided this legally required metric. Apparently only nine (9) students entered competitive integrated employment within three months of graduation in Quarter 2. Unfortunately, this number is consistent with previous reports. The Quarter 2 report indicated that the “High School Students with Disabilities Who Entered Competitive Employment Within 3 Months of Graduation” for Quarter 1 was 66,. See Table 7 in the Quarter 2 report.
PDE and OVR must ensure that they have an accurate count of how many students are eligible for services and OVR must ensure that it uses the same metrics in every report so that readers can compare the data across reports and assess progress, if any.