An Analysis of Disability Groupings and Transition Planning Experiences

Ernest C Davenport, David R. Johnson, Yi-Chen Wu, Martha L Thurlow, Xueqin Qian, John M. LaVelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


One important aspect of special education research that makes it complex is the variability of the disability categories being studied. This study used the context of Individualized Education Program (IEP)/transition planning and National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012) student and parent survey items associated with this context to illustrate the challenges of grouping disability categories. We examined how disability groupings are treated similarly with respect to their transition planning experiences across different survey items. Findings illustrate that the 12 transition-related disability categories can be empirically formed into four clusters according to their IEP/transition planning meeting experiences. Results indicate that regardless of the scale used, these groupings are relatively consistent (e.g., autism, multiple disabilities, and orthopedic impairments were always together), but different from groupings based on theory or another set of items (e.g., self-determination). Implications for practice and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Special Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R324A180178 to the University of Minnesota. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or U.S. Department of Education.

Publisher Copyright:
© Hammill Institute on Disabilities 2021.


  • IEP/transition planning
  • NLTS 2012
  • combining groups
  • disability groups


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