|Mary Durheim, Chair
Andrew D. Crim, Vice Chair
Beth Stalvey, MPH, PhD, Executive Director
|6201 E. Oltorf, Suite 600
Austin, TX 78741-7509
|Phone: (512) 437-5432
Toll Free: (800) 262-0334
Fax: (512) 437-5434
House Higher Education Committee
Public Testimony on House Bill 3165
April 10, 2019
Hello, my name is Ashley Ford and I am a Public Policy and Communications Specialist with the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD). TCDD is established by state and federal law and is governed by 27 Governor-appointed board members, 60 percent of whom are individuals with developmental disabilities or family members of individuals with disabilities.
The Texas Legislature has created opportunities for Texas to be attractive to business, drawn, in part, by a workforce educated by our world-class postsecondary educational system. The degree program envisioned by HB 3165 would ensure that individuals with developmental disabilities were included in our Texas workforce. Higher education projects funded by TCDD have demonstrated that students with developmental disabilities can successfully attain higher education and gain competitive integrated employment when provided with access to and supports for academic and career development experiences.
Federal policies including the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, and the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 offer Texas the resources and authority to strengthen our education system and economy. This degree program also compliments recent state initiatives including Texas’ Employment First policy.1
HB 3165 could also help address the recommendations included in the 2016 report to the Governor by TEA, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). This report highlights that regional leaders from education, industry, government, and nonprofits recommended expanding and improving the training and hiring of people with disabilities and urges Texas to “focus on providing meaningful career training and work for all students, including those with disabilities, so that all students gain the marketable skills employers desire” (11).2
According to the “Postsecondary Programs and Services for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities” inventory, only fifteen higher education institutions have programs for students with IDD.3 Less than a quarter (24.39%) of 2015 Texas high school graduates who were receiving special education services when they left high school enrolled in higher education within one year of leaving high school.4 This is the lowest rate of higher education attainment among all demographic subgroups.
Improving rates of higher education attainment among people with intellectual and developmental disabilities should be pursued for many reasons. For example, by 2020, 35% of employment opportunities will require a bachelor’s degree and 30% will require an associate degree or some college experience; with more rapid growth in community services, healthcare, and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations.5 Through employment, people with disabilities gain an important point of entry into their communities, earned wages, job benefits, a sense of being valued, and an opportunity to make a meaningful contribution. Young adults with disabilities who complete postsecondary education have improved employment rates and higher income.6 Research suggests that students with intellectual disabilities also require lower Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits compared to their counterparts who did not have postsecondary education.7
We must continue to make investments that convey the expectation for all students that college is possible. TCDD finds the aims of HB 3165 to be consistent with our guiding principles and position statements on education, employment, and transition from school to adult life.8,9 Please feel free to contact TCDD for additional information or if we can be of additional service.
Public Policy and Communications Specialist
Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities
1. Texas Government Code, §531.02448(a)
2. Texas Education Agency, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, and Texas Workforce Commission. (2016). Prosperity Requires Being Bold: Integrating Education and the Workforce for a Bright Texas Future. Retrieved from: http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/reports/PDF/8738.PDF?CFID=51855767&CFTOKEN=57218823.
3. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Postsecondary Programs and Services for Students with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities website. Retrieved from http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/apps/IDD/.
4. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs. (2016). Indicator 14: Post-School Outcomes. Retrieved from https://osep.grads360.org/#report/apr/2016B/Indicator14/HistoricalData?state=TX&ispublic=true.
5. Camevale, A. P., Smith, N., & Strohl, J. (2013). Recovery: Job growth and education requirements through 2020. Washington, DC: Georgetown University.
6. Flannery, K.B., et al. (2008). Improving employment outcomes of individuals with disabilities through short term postsecondary training. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 31(1), 26-36.
7. Sannicandro, Thomas, et al. “Employment, Income, and SSI Effects of Postsecondary Education for People with Intellectual Disability.” AJIDD-American Journal On Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, vol. 123, no. 5, pp. 412–425.
8. Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities. Mission and Guiding Principles webpage. Retrieved from https://tcdd.texas.gov/about/mission-and-guiding-principles/.
9. Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities. Position Statements webpage. Retrieved from https://tcdd.texas.gov/public-policy/position-statements/.