New study demonstrates effectiveness of Maryland’s nonpublic special education schools for special needs students
Students from nonpublic schools have higher rates of post-secondary attendance, employment, independent living and lower rate of interaction with law enforcement
BALTIMORE – The education and intervention services provided by Maryland’s nonpublic schools result in better outcomes for special needs students than their peers in public schools, finds a study commissioned by the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities (MANSEF). The study followed students for two years after graduation and found that MANSEF students had higher rates of post-secondary education, employment and living independently compared to similar students being served in public schools. Further, students who had attended nonpublic special education schools had less interaction with the legal system than students with similar disabilities who attended public schools. The results of this study demonstrate the value of investing in Maryland students by providing them with the specialized education and services that help them to thrive.
“The results of this study show that nonpublic schools are often the best setting for students with special needs,” said Dorie Flynn, executive director of MANSEF. “When students get the targeted services they need, they can go on to achieve and succeed as adults.”
The study, “Post-school Outcomes of Students from MANSEF-Member Nonpublic Special Education Programs up to Two Years After High School” conducted by Deborah Carran, PhD and a professor in the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University, found that, in comparison to U.S. students with less severe disabilities:
• 57 percent of MANSEF students enroll in post-secondary education as compared to 31 percent of the comparison group
• Only 16 percent of MANSEF students have had an interaction with the criminal justice system as compared to 58 percent of the comparison group
• 53 percent of MANSEF youth are employed within two years of high school graduation as compared to 43 percent of the comparison group
Interviewers from the State University of New York’s Potsdam Institute of Applied Research contacted 210 MANSEF school students at yearly intervals for two years after they had graduated or left their schools. These results were compared against published findings of the
National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2), a national study which longitudinally followed students who received special education services. The sample of NLTS2 used included students with disabilities who were served within a public school setting. Participants in the MANSEF study, on the other hand, were youth with severe disabilities who did not experience success in their home public school district and instead attended a nonpublic school. Most MANSEF participants were youth with emotional disturbance, autism and/or multiple disabilities.
The MANSEF study clearly demonstrates that program graduates experienced a more successful integration into adulthood, enrolling in postsecondary education programs, finding employment and living independently while reducing costs associated with the needs of adults with disabilities. In addition, fewer MANSEF graduates were involved with the criminal justice system, a benefit for families and society.
Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) act, each child must receive the most appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. For students with profound disabilities, that education is often best found in a nonpublic special education facility. In Maryland, 99 nonpublic schools in 17 counties and Baltimore City serve approximately 3,350 students aged 3 to 21 with a range of disabilities that require the most intensive services, including autism, emotional, learning and intellectual disabilities or multiple disabilities. MANSEF represents Maryland nonpublic schools.
MANSEF is a not-for-profit organization of nonpublic special education facilities that promote quality services for children and youth with disabilities. The facilities serve approximately 3,350 students between the ages of 3 and 21. Like public schools, the nonpublic facilities are highly regulated by the state of Maryland and are held accountable for the quality of the services they provide.
The nonpublic schools are part of the state’s educational continuum for students with special needs. They provide a more intensive level of staff support and non-classroom services. A key goal of the nonpublic schools is to prepare students to be able to return successfully to the public schools. Each year, a significant percentage of students do return to the public schools to complete their education.
MANSEF members are the most appropriate choice for many Maryland students who are unable to have their needs met in the public schools. Nonpublic schools serve students with a range of disabilities who require the most intensive services such as students with emotional disabilities, autism, multiple disabilities, learning disabilities, and intellectual disabilities.
Thousands of Maryland families rely on the MANSEF schools to provide their children with services. The nonpublic schools are, in short, a critically important component of the state’s educational system.