Research Study 5

Research Study #5: Effects of Paid Work in High School on the Employment Outcomes of Youth with Severe Disabilities: A Randomized Control Trial Intervention Development

Research by Vanderbilt University


This study will generate much-needed empirical support for the impact of early work experiences, practical guidance and resources for schools committed to connecting their students to community jobs, and richer insights into the pathways leading from school to the world of work.


The employment trajectories of young people with severe disabilities are often shaped in the final years of high school. Although paid employment before graduation is often advocated, very few students with severe disabilities (i.e., intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, autism,or multiple disabilities who also have significant cognitive impairments) access these experiences. In this study, we will: (a) develop and refine a school-based supported employment intervention package that connects high school students with severe disabilities to paid employment (b) evaluate the impact of early paid work on post-school employment outcomes using an RCT (c) examine the pathways students take into the workplace (before and after graduation) and the supports that enable competitive integrated employment and (d) disseminate the intervention throughout our extensive state and national networks.