District Implementation of Research-Based Practices for Transition Planning With Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Youth With Disabilities and Their Families

June E. Gothberg, Gary Greene, Paula D. Kohler
  • Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, March 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/2165143418762794

What practices are schools implementing to engage families of CLD students?

What is it about?

Post-school outcomes are poor for youth with disabilities, in general, but even more discouraging for certain subpopulations of individuals with disabilities, particularly those from culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) backgrounds. The authors discuss structural inequalities in public schools which potentially contribute to the poorer transition outcomes of CLD youth with disabilities compared with their White peers with disabilities and identify 11 research-based practices (RBPs) for supporting CLD youth with disabilities and their families during the transition planning process. A study is subsequently described involving the development and implementation of a survey measuring the degree to which these 11 RBPs are being implemented in public school districts. The survey was administered during 2011 to 2016 to interdisciplinary transition teams representing more than 90 school districts in the United States who were attending state capacity-building transition services training institutes. Group consensus was sought on the 11 items appearing on the survey. Results from the study found that most school districts were not implementing any of the RBPs to any significant degree, school staff were in need of cultural competence professional development training, CLD families of transition-aged youth with disabilities lacked access to quality resources and supports, and CLD youth with disabilities lacked opportunities to strengthen their self-determination skills. Implications for practice and future research on this topic is presented and discussed.

Why is it important?

The outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students is lower than their peers, and worse for those with the dual role of CLD and having a disability. Research shows family engagement is a key predictor of post-school engagement in college, vocational training, careers, community, social events, and living as independently as possible. While researchers have identified practices that help to engage families of CLD students with disabilities, little research has been conducted to identify (a) whether schools are implementing those practices, (b) the facilitators and barriers to implementation, and (c) how families are responding. This study conducts the first step, measuring the implementation of the 11 known research based practices. The findings serve as a foundation of understanding the facilitators and barriers schools are experiencing.


Dr June E Gothberg (Author)
Western Michigan University

This information is important in assisting schools to engage families in the transition of their child into the adult world. It also informs the field on the challenges schools are experiencing to engage families of CLD children. It is my hope that this type of research will be replicated and become general knowledge that will help inform the appropriate allocation of resources to improve outcomes for CLD students with disabilities. To this end, Gary Greene and I have made the instrument and other resources available for others to use.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr June E Gothberg