In a December 14, 2011 article, Education Week reported on the expansion of postsecondary education options for special education students. Approximately 170 college programs, compared to 15 in 2002, have been created to accommodate students with severe intellectual disabilities. According to the article, the growth of these programs is due in part to changes in federal laws that have increased achievement expectations for special education students in elementary and secondary schools.
College programs for students with intellectual disabilities usually offer more than academic education. The programs teach students to live independently in student housing away from their families; they may learn to shop, cook, manage time, and send email. Many students are able to find gainful employment after completing the college program. According to Education Week, the program at the University of California at Los Angeles graduated 37 students in six years, and all but seven are employed, continuing their education, doing an intensive internship, or enrolled in a day program; all but three live away from their parents.
For more information about college programs for students with intellectual disabilities, visit www.thinkcollege.net.