Policy brief

Work-Based Learning for Students with Disabilities

Work Placement - PACE Policy Brief
Fred McFarlane
San Diego State University
Mari Guillermo
San Diego State University


Preparing all students, including students with disabilities, for life after high school is a critical responsibility for California’s education system. Engaging students and their families in discussions regarding careers, employment, and the pre-requisites for postsecondary education, training, and employment must start early and continue throughout their educational experiences. While there are programs in California that benefit students as they explore career opportunities, students with disabilities are seldom included in these programs. Three essential actions drive the development and implementation of a K–14 work-based learning model for youth with disabilities (and, we believe, for all youth): strengthen expectations, leverage opportunities, and integrate supports. We encourage the implementation of these actions early in the student’s education. Specific policy recommendations for California are provided based on these actions.

Suggested citationMcFarlane, F., & Guillermo, M. (2020, February). Work-Based learning for students with disabilities [Policy brief]. Policy Analysis for California Education. https://edpolicyinca.org/publications/work-based-learning-students-disabilities