A recent study commissioned by the Maryland Association of Nonpublic Special Education Facilities finds that students with special needs who graduate from one of its member institutions perform better in the long run than their peers who are educated in the public school environment. MANSEF students are more likely to be either employed or working on a post-secondary degree, post-graduation, than students with disabilities who have not gone to MANSEF schools.
MANSEF graduates are also less likely to have been inside a jail cell or a court room, and a higher percentage of them live independently from their parents or guardians.
“It was critical for us to know and validate the heroic efforts of the staff working in our schools, and really make sure that the education we provide is really top-notch,” said Dorie Flynn, executive director of MANSEF. Flynn said that while the system’s nonpublic schools follow the state’s curriculum and are subjected to intensive annual evaluations and regulations by the state Department of Education, the organization wanted a snapshot of its results.
Deborah Carran of Johns Hopkins University, who authored the report, said that the results were “encouraging,” and proved that MANSEF schools were on the right track when it came to implementing the best approach to helping their students. According to her, the outcomes of the study proved that many of the students considered to be lost causes by public schools could – in the right environment – learn to engage with their communities, achieve academic and professional success and live independent lives.
MANSEF schools typically attract the most difficult cases referred to them by public schools who feel that they’re in no position to help further. Still, the post-graduation outcomes for them are much better with 53% finding employment within a year, compared to only 27% of special-ed students nationwide. In addition, more than one in ten MANSEF graduates go on to college, compared to 4% of American special-ed public school students.
The MANSEF graduates were compared to results found in a study done by the U.S. Department of Education called the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2, which tracks a sample population of special-needs students who receive services in public schools as they transition to adulthood. The MANSEF study represented students from 18 nonpublic institutions two years after they graduated in 2007 and 2008. Carran said the longitudinal study, which served as a model for the MANSEF study, was the most comparable data available, though students in the MANSEF study often have more severe disabilities.