On April 30, 2020, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) submitted this report pursuant to the congressional explanatory statement to the FY 2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act (Pub. L. No. 116-94), signed into law on December 20, 2019, that “directs the Secretary to submit a report within 90 days of enactment of this Act to the Committees evaluating any changes in trends in employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities served by State vocational rehabilitation programs before and after the implementation of the WIOA.” In addition, “[t]he agreement directs the Secretary to ensure appropriate State level implementation of the Rehabilitation Act, which may include the Department providing technical assistance as necessary.” This report summarizes trends in the performance of the VR program with respect to the characteristics of individuals served, the services they received, and the employment outcomes they achieved, using data collected and reported by VR agencies to the RSA prior to and following the enactment of WIOA. The report also describes the technical assistance RSA has provided to the State VR agencies as they have implemented the changes to the VR program made by WIOA.
What's New in RSA
The State Vocational Rehabilitation Services Program Before and After Enactment of WIOA in 2014
COVID-19 Teleconference with RSA, WINTAC, and VR Agencies
On March 30, 2020, OSERS Acting Assistant Secretary Mark Schultz held a stakeholder teleconference with VR agencies and other grantees to share their questions and concerns about the unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 across the United States and the challenges it poses for VR agencies and the delivery of services. Also, WINTAC representatives presented on the technical assistance they are providing to VR agencies as they engage in distance communication and virtual service delivery to individuals with disabilities. In addition, two VR agencies shared service delivery challenges they are facing in this health crisis. Access the audio recording and download the transcript of the stakeholder teleconference.
WIOA Negotiations and Sanctions Webcast
On April 1, 2020, the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor (the Departments) announced the availability of a Webcast that provides an overview of the joint policy guidance related to WIOA Performance Negotiations and Sanctions. On February 6, 2020, the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) issued TAC 20-02 hat delineates the process for negotiating levels of performance and explains the two instances in which a State may be sanctioned.
WIOA Performance Calculations Tool
On March 3, 2020, RSA and the WINTAC shared Calculating VR Program Performance for MSG in Program Years 2020 and 2021. This technical assistance tool highlights key information from RSA-TAC-20-02 related to establishing performance levels and outlines, using two examples, how RSA will calculate Individual Indicator Scores for Measurable Skill Gains Rate after each Program Year ends.
MSG Statistical Adjustment Model (SAM) for PYs 2020 and 2021
On February 28, 2020, RSA provided VR agencies with the estimated levels of performance for Measurable Skill Gains (MSG) for PYs 2020 and 2021, as predicted by the Statistical Adjustment Model (SAM). In Excel file format, the SAM includes the coefficients and specific values for each variable for each State. These estimated levels may not be altered for the purposes of negotiations, including any changes in participant characteristics or economic conditions anticipated by the state that would result in changes to the levels predicted by the SAM. Any changes in participant characteristics or economic conditions will be reflected in the SAM by using the actual participant characteristics and economic conditions after the close of each Program Year and they will not be factored into the negotiations process. The Excel file also includes MSG performance for PYs 2017 and 2018 for each State VR program.
As discussed in RSA-TAC-20-02, WIOA requires that RSA use a SAM to ensure participant characteristics and economic conditions are accounted for in determining negotiated levels of performance. RSA, and its Federal partners, recognize that the use of the SAM is a new requirement for core programs and believe that it will be critically important to the negotiations process. As more data become available, RSA will periodically review the SAM and refine it as necessary. State performance will be assessed using the iteration of the SAM used to negotiate the levels of performance for that Program Year.
Notice of Interpretation: Pre-Employment Transition Services Flexibility Regarding the Use of Federal Vocational Rehabilitation Funds
On February 27, 2020, in the Federal Register, OSERS made available for public inspection a notice of interpretation (NOI) to:
- Clarify current policy regarding the use of Federal Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) funds reserved for the provision of pre-employment transition services to pay for auxiliary aids and services needed by all students with disabilities in order to access or participate in required pre-employment transition services under section 113(b) of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by WIOA; and
- Announce a change in policy with respect to additional VR services needed by eligible students with disabilities that may be paid for with Federal VR grant funds reserved for the provision of pre-employment transition services and the circumstances under which those funds may be used to pay for those additional VR services.
There will be a public comment period from February 28, 2020 through March 30, 2020.
Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are Blind Program (ILOIB) Annual Report (RSA-7-OB) Revision
RSA issued PD-20-01 revising the Independent Living Services for Older Individuals who are Blind Program (ILOIB) Annual Report (RSA-7-OB). The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved an extension with changes to the RSA-7-OB (OMB control number 1820-0608) until December 31, 2022. For Federal fiscal year (FFY) 2020, agencies should continue to use the previously approved RSA-7-OB to collect and report data no later than December 31, 2020. Beginning with FFY 2021, agencies must use the revised RSA-7-OB; these data must be reported to RSA by December 31, 2021.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Vocational Rehabilitation Program. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Smith-Fess Act of 1920, also known as the Industrial Rehabilitation Act and referred to as "The National Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation Act," into law on June 2, 1920. RSA will celebrate the centennial throughout 2020 and has launched a dedicated VR100 webpage. We encourage you to visit the webpage where you will find the kick-off podcast from RSA Commissioner Mark Schultz, VR100 graphics, VR100 signature blocks, and the #VR100Years hashtag to use in social media campaigns promoting the celebration. New information will be added to the VR100 webpage throughout 2020.
Infographics: Maximizing Employment Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities
RSA, in partnership with State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies and stakeholders across the country, administers programs that assist nearly one million individuals with disabilities each year through the State VR Services and the State Supported Employment Services programs. Through this partnership, RSA supports State VR agencies as they maximize opportunities for individuals with disabilities to prepare for, secure, retain, advance in, or regain employment that is consistent with their unique strengths, resources, priorities, concerns, abilities, capabilities, interests, and informed choice.
In July 2019, RSA issued this infographic that highlights positive trends related to the employment outcomes that individuals served by the VR program achieved in Federal fiscal years 2017 and 2018. In January 2020, RSA issued a second infographic illustrating more positive trends in the VR program related to the number of VR program participants who earned Measurable Skill Gains in Program Years 2017 and 2018 as well as the number of students with disabilities who received pre-employment transition services in the same timeframe. Both infographics also showcase the number of employment outcomes in the VR program under the current Administration.