Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability praises TC's program

Since it began turning out graduates in 1997, Taft College’s Transition to Independent Living (TIL) program has shown incredible success.


95 percent of graduates live independently, 89 percent have jobs (the national average is 14 percent) and 83 percent are self-sufficient, living without help from their families.

Those numbers are impressive, but TIL creator Jeff Ross said often the response from skeptics, who may hint that actual success rates seem a bit inflated, has been: “well that’s just anecdotal.”

Not anymore.

The Association on Higher Education and Disability, headquartered in Huntersville, N.C., has validated TIL’s statistics and published them in the winter 2013 special edition of the Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability.

The publication detailed research conducted on programs “designed for students with intellectual disability (ID).”

An article in the Journal penned by Ross, TIL colleagues Jamia Marcell and Paula Williams, along with Dawn Carlson of Virginia Commonwealth University, focuses on how the TIL program gathers data on its graduates as it tracks each of them for 10 years after leaving the program.

They annually collect data examining employment status, living arrangements, income sources, money management, shopping, meal preparation, self-care, transportation, family and community participation and more.

The Journal study concludes that TIL’s program successfully prepares individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities “to become productive members of society who will live independently and participate in civic, social, and communal activities.”

TIL students, the report states, “master a rigorous course of study designed to meet these needs.”

It points out that TIL students are “integrated in all campus activities and considered an integral part of the culture of this institution. The college benefits greatly from the program’s 98 percent success rate, twice the rate of degree and certificate program completions, in its overall count of program completions.”

Marcell, who has been with the program since its inception in 1995, follows each graduate for 10 years with follow-up visits once they leave the program. Williams crunches the numbers that give program directors a clear picture of how graduates fare in the real world.

Ross feels the report from a national organization focused on higher education outcomes for individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities gives TIL an official thumbs-up.

“This program has made such a tremendous difference in so many lives, so it’s rewarding to have that validation,” he said.

In the report, Journal guest editors Carlson and Colleen A. Thoma, both of Virginia Commonwealth University, conclude that “we can use this knowledge to teach others interested in promoting or creating postsecondary education opportunities that such transition programs can indeed improve employment and independent living outcomes of persons with (intellectual disabilities).”