Going beyond the requirements, UK HDI’s Kentucky Post School Outcomes Center sets exemplary standard for improving students with disabilities transitional outcomes after high school

In 2020, Kentucky students with disabilities who had exited high school in the previous year were asked which resource in high school had continued to help them the most in their current post high school lives. Of the 2,256 responses, the top response (39.2%) was “a teacher, counselor or principal,” followed next by “vocational training” (20.3%). 

The question comes from a YOYO (Youth One Year Out) survey, part of a federal data collection effort regarding the transitional experiences of students with disabilities one year after their high school exit. In Kentucky, the data collection is facilitated by UK’s Human Development Institute (HDI) on behalf of the Kentucky Department of Education, through an initiative called KYPSO (Kentucky Post School Outcomes Center)

KYPSO works closely with Kentucky school districts to create the YOYO surveys, train the educators conducting the one-on-one surveys, aggregate each district’s data into one statewide dataset and, perhaps most importantly, work with school district administrators to interpret their district’s data and create further goals and plans of action. 

The data collected by each district plays an important role in both policymaking and district funding. Kentucky goes well beyond simply checking the boxes to meet the federal requirements, though. 

“Kentucky has done an excellent job of making secondary transition a priority,” Dr. Tony LoBianco, principal investigator and project director of KYPSO, said. “We have kind of served as a model for a few other states and how they go about doing this.” 

The federal requirements for post-school outcomes data are relatively small. States must report, on the state-level only, three data points, those being the percentage of those who are no longer in secondary school, had IEPs in effect at the time they left and were:  

  1. enrolled in higher education within one year of leaving high school 
  1. enrolled in higher education or competitively employed within one year of leaving high school 
  1. enrolled in higher education, competitively employed, enrolled in other education or training, or in some type of employment within one year of leaving high school. 

While some states are able to meet these requirements without conducting one-on-one student interviews in every district, either by taking a smaller sample from a few districts or by using other data sources to determine values for the mandatory data points, a quick look at a KYPSO annual report shows that Kentucky’s efforts are focused on far more than meeting minimum requirements. Interviewing students one-on-one engages Kentucky school districts in all phases of a rich and thorough data collection and reporting process, missing no opportunity to improve transition outcomes. 

“The general public should care about [this] because we’re providing data that tells us about what the future of our youth is going to look like. People should know what kids with disabilities are doing,” Dr. LoBianco said. “People directly in the field of education should care about KYPSO because we’re giving them direct information about their kids and what they could be doing better.” 

As critical as the data is, KYPSO staff are aware that raw data can’t always tell the full story, and they hope to bring forth their expert analyses into Kentucky school districts to continue supporting student transition into adult life. An important clarification Dr. LoBianco makes about the work KYPSO does is that people with disabilities are not a monolithic group.  

“There are so many different needs, and what may work for one person may not work for another person,” Dr. LoBianco said. “I also think sometimes it’s underutilized the amount of support that we can offer. There is really nothing more valuable for schools to do than to sit down with some experts and have plans for how they are going to help our youth transition to adult life… We’re here to help [educators] with that, and I hope they use it.” 

KYPSO’s public data page allows users to view data by varying demographic combinations and by disability category, showing distinctive differences in the transitional experiences among varying groups. One noted disparity is that, among female and male respondents, females tend to have higher post-secondary education rates, while males tend to have higher employment rates. Having access to consistent annual data allows researchers and educators to notice and address these systemic trends. 

“I would love for there to be the ability to follow up longer term. We don’t know what’s happening five years out… ten years out…” Dr. LoBianco said. 

While KYPSO does not have the funding for longer-term follow-up right now, Dr. LoBianco sees an opportunity for future research. YOYO surveys are highly effective at allowing special education researchers and educators to know what is happening in the immediate year after high school, but transition outcomes, as a whole, extend much further.  

If you have questions or would like to chat about transition resources, KYPSO staff can be reached by email at  

black graduation caps being thrown in the sunset sky

Kentucky Post School Outcome Center Begins Data Collection

The UK Human Development Institute (HDI) houses the Kentucky Post School Outcome Center (KyPSO) to increase the capacity of local school districts, teachers, parents, and adult service providers to provide exemplary transition planning and increase student success. This is accomplished through the collection and reporting of data related to post school plans and outcomes, and the provision of training and technical assistance.

The Kentucky Department of Education contracts with KyPSO to collect secondary data about students with disabilities to identify factors that may contribute to successful transition planning and outcomes. Data are collected through the “Youth One Year Out (YOYO)” former student interview. The YOYO includes a series of questions about post school employment and education, the student’s personal experiences, involvement with other agencies, living arrangements, and community engagement. The KyPSO staff collect and analyze the data to create reports for district, regional and state-level staff.

Visit or follow us on and Facebook at to learn more about KyPSO and its resources.

Project Contact:
Tony Lobianco, PhD

Child reading a book with teacher.

Latest Fund for Excellence Awards: August 2019

The Human Development Institute (HDI) established the Fund for Excellence for the development of innovative programs, services or products to address the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families, for which funding is not currently available. In the July, 2019 funding cycle, HDI awarded three Fund for Excellence projects:

  • Universally Designed Health Coaching Pilot with Danielle Augustin, Lindsey Mullis, and Morgan Turner
  • You Can Do So Many Things project with Caroline Gooden, Kathy Sheppard-Jones, and Brittany Granville
  • Disability in Public Health Training with Tony Lobianco and Donald Lollar

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Tony Lobianco pictured, white man with salt and pepper hair, short beard, and he uses a wheelchair

HDI 50th Anniversary Spotlight on Tony Lobianco

My advice for current and future staff and students at HDI is that there are many ways to address issues that we come across in our work, and the diverse ways of considering approaches that our staff have is one of HDI’s most valuable resources. — Tony Lobianco, Principal Investigator/Project Director of the Kentucky Post School Outcomes Center

How did you come to know HDI? 
I heard about HDI when Claudia Earnharth told me about a research assistant position.

How long were you with HDI and what was your role? 
I’ve been at HDI almost 17 years, first as an RA, then a STEPS employee, then full-time member of Evaluation Unit, and now Project Director with KyPSO.
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AUCD 2016 Conference Report from HDI

HDI staff recently attended the Association of University Centers on Disabilities 2016 Conference in December and also actively contributed to the conference through sessions, posters, and increased attendance by trainees.

Dr. Harold Kleinert contributed to a panel on inclusive education and participated in a poster about “Building Capacity and Vision Among Faith Communities, Seminaries, and Disability Organizations.” In addition, Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones, Dr. Allie Rhodes and Marylee Underwood shared a poster on “Using Statewide Needs Assessment  Continue reading