Student Outcomes

Improvement of student outcomes is the primary objective of the educational system generally, and special education specifically. We expect much of our schools. We anticipate not only world class academic performance, but we also expect students to be good citizens, team players, and leaders. SEELS will look at student outcomes longitudinally, potentially in terms of academics, social, physical, vocational, and other aspects of development. The National Center on Educational Outcomes has conducted a comprehensive series of Delphi activities to identify outcomes and indicators that apply across the age range. Although the design of SEELS need not consider only or all of the NCEO identified outcomes; they provide a useful starting point. The NCEO outcome domains are described below.

Two outcome domains are considered by NCEO as precursors and contributors to other, later outcomes. These are:


In the SEELS draft conceptual framework, these domains are included in the components related to the student’s school program and non school factors and are discussed in subsequent sections as part of those components.

NCEO outcome domains considered in the SEELS outcome component could include the following:


The task force should provide guidance on which of these outcome domains are of interest in SEELS and which are of most importance. Potential research questions relating to student outcomes appears in Table 4.




Table 4

Potential Research Questions — Student outcomes


Descriptive Questions

How well do students in special education read and do mathematics?

How well do students in special education communicate? Use technology?

What grades do students in special education get?

How able are students in special education to solve academic problems?

What is the pattern of school attendance of students in special education?

What is the classroom behavior of students in special education? To what extent are they suspended or expelled from school?

To what extent do students in special education have and see friends?

How independent are students in special education in self-care, mobility, personal and financial management?

Are older students in special education working? Getting a driver’s license?

To what extent do students in special education participate in adolescent risk behaviors, including smoking, drinking, sexual activity, or drug use?

How well do students in special education maintain a positive self-concept and handle difficulties and frustrations?

To what extent do students in special education have interests or hobbies? Volunteer or do community service?

How satisfied are parents of students in special education with their children’s schools and school programs? How satisfied are students?

Comparative and Explanatory Questions

How do outcomes compare to those of students in general education?

How do outcomes vary among disability categories and for students who differ in demographic and household characteristics; to what extent do some students do better than others?

How do outcomes in different domains correlate with one another? E.g., do students with classroom behavior problems have academic problems as well?

How do outcomes change over time? E.g., what growth in academic ability do students experience in a school year? From year to year?

What changes in outcomes we do see when students transition from elementary to middle school and middle to high school?