Date of Award

January 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

James Mochoruk


The thesis examines the development and implementation of special education’s transition policy in the United States and North Dakota from the 1980s to the 1990s. Researchers have primarily sought to further evidence-based practices in preparing adolescents with disabilities for adulthood, but the history of this effort has rarely been discussed. In the late 20th century, policymakers, researchers, and educators attempted to turn around negative socio-economic outcomes for people with disabilities by helping youth with disabilities and their families plan for the future and get connected to post-school services and employment. Assumptions about people with disabilities influenced transition programming and the quality of student and family self-determination. Lackluster interagency cooperation, poor community-based disability services, limited school resources, and trouble creating reliable post-school survey tools were frequent frustrations to being able to implement transition policy in American public schools.