Nicole A Jones
International Journal of Psychosocial Rehabilitation. 13(1), 5-9
Jones NA(2008). Acceptance Rates Research and Program Evaluation..
The purpose of this paper is to present a literature review of acceptance rates research of minorities in vocational rehabilitation to support reevaluation of the eligibility component of the Vocational Rehabilitation System. Program evaluation is a necessary and continuous process to measure the effectiveness of a program. Multiple acceptance rate research studies have been conducted and they indicate that African Americans are accepted at lower rates than their European American counterparts (Atkins & Wright, 1980; Wilson, 2002; Rosenthal, Wilson, Ferrin & Frain, 2005). This literature review can be used as an instrument to reevaluate the eligibility process of minorities seeking entrance into the vocational rehabilitation system.
Program evaluation is
defined by Rossi, Lipsey and Freeman
(2004) as “the use of social research procedures to systematically
the effectiveness of social intervention programs that is adapted to
political and organizational environments and designed to inform social
in ways that improve social conditions” (p.16). The vocational
program is a social intervention program.
The examination of acceptance rates as social research can be
to re-evaluate the vocational rehabilitation program. Lewis,
Packard and Lewis (2007) conclude that
evaluation can be used to aid in administrative decision making,
currently operating programs, provides for accountability, build
support for effective programs, and add to the knowledge base of the
services. Based on the literature review one could possibly conclude
minorities are underrepresented and underserved in the vocational
rehabilitation system (
Acceptance rates have been examined by the rehabilitation community and legislation in great depth. The American Disabilities Amendments of 1992 stated that:
“Patterns of inequitable treatment of minorities have been documented in all major junctures of the vocational rehabilitation process. As compared to European Americans, a larger percentage of African Americans applicants to the vocational rehabilitation system is denied acceptance. Of applicants for service, a larger percentage of African –American cases are closed without being rehabilitated. Minorities are provided less training than their European American counterparts.” (Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992, Pub No. 102-569,106 Stat.4344-4488, 1992).
Atkins and Wright’s seminal study of 1980 examined the acceptance rate of minorities in vocational rehabilitation (VR). They documented that acceptance rates for African American applicants were proportionally lower (about 5.5%) than European American applicants in vocational rehabilitation programs. Several studies have been conducted utilizing the Rehabilitation Services Administration-911 data and concluded that there are significant differences in acceptance rates for minorities (Chan, Wong, Rosenthal, Kundu & Dutta, 2005; Wilson, Harley & Alston, 2001; Olney & Kennedy, 2002). Evaluation of human service programming is essential to provide information that helps the agency gain political support and continued community involvement (Lewis et al., 2007). Moreover, evaluation can also enhance an agency’s position by providing the means for demonstrating or even publicizing an agency’s effectiveness. The eligibility component of the VR system in six landmark studies stated that acceptance rates for minorities are more likely to be found ineligible for VR services (Herbert & Martinez, 1992; Dzeikan & Okocha, 1993; Feist-Price, 1995; Peterson, 1996; Wilson, 2000; Wilson, Harley, and Alston, in press). By examining the rate of acceptance for minorities in the vocational rehabilitation system, administrators in the field may gain insight to further evaluate the differences in acceptance rate and discuss avenues for increasing minority acceptance rates.
Historically minorities have been noted in VR for being underrepresented and underserved. Schorr (1997) stated that:
“The moral underpinnings for social action, especially by the government, are not powerful enough in the cynical closing years of the twentieth century to sustain what needs to be done on the scale that it needs to be done. In this era of pervasive doubt, public investment of the needed magnitude will be forthcoming only on evidence of achieving its purpose and contributing to long-term goals that are widely shared. “(p. 136)
The measure of how effective a program is can be determined by the outcomes achieved. Schorr (1997) continued that in the past, outcomes accountability and evaluation were separate activities. Now, however, the accountability world is moving from the monitoring processes to monitoring results. Lewis, et al., (2007) additionally found that the dissemination of evaluative reports describing the agency’s accountability is paramount. People concerned with agency performance can gain knowledge about the results of services, and this information undoubtedly increases community members’ influence on policies and programs. By reviewing the literature of acceptance rates for minorities, a basis for reevaluation is discussed.
Cooper (1980) questioned the fact of whether Atkins and Wright’s (1980)
was sufficient to support the conclusion that African Americans and
Americans receive unequal treatment in VR. They replicated the Atkins
Wright (1980) study.
to the earlier studies, Wheaton (1995)’s work concluded that the
European Americans and African Americans found eligible for VR services
statistically different. However,
various possible reasons as to why African Americans are less likely to
accepted into VR services than their majority counterparts. Herbert and
Rosenthal (2004) examined the counselor bias and its effects of consumer’s race on the clinical judgment of practicing European American vocational rehabilitation counselors in a web based environment. He specifically investigated whether participants demonstrated bias in their general evaluation, perceptions of psychopathology, and estimates of the educational and vocational potential of African American consumers. Rosenthal, et al. (1999) stated that stereotypes are activated under conditions of uncertainty when limited information is given. Stereotyping provides short cuts to process information on prototypical characteristics. The danger with stereotypes is that initial impressions are resistant to change, even when the advent of contradictory evidence (Eddy, 1990; Elstein, Shulman & Sprafka, 1978). The findings of this study stated that African American consumers were judged more negatively than European American consumers, and these differences persisted after reviewing subsequent information. Middleton, et al. (2000) stated that “professional multicultural rehabilitation competencies and standards are necessary if persons with disabilities from diverse ethnic backgrounds are to be well served” (p. 220). Rosenthal, et al. (1999) stated that negative perceptions of VR counselors unfairly judge African Americans seeking VR services. Based on this study Rosenthal et al., (1999) concluded that European American VR counselors find some African American consumers ineligible for VR services, having based their decisions on stereotypes and biases.
Alston, Russo, and Miles, 1994; Fujiura, 2000; Jones, 2000; NOD/Harris; 1998 concluded in their studies that despite nearly half a century of civil rights reform and three decades of disability rights legislation, people of color and people with disabilities continue to experience social, economic, educational and vocational disadvantages. Hanna and Rogovosky (1992) stated that persons with disabilities who are also from racial and ethnic minority groups face dual disadvantages within the disabilities services system. A growing body of research has documented important racial differences in all stages of the VR process (Olney et al., 2002) such as the process from application, acceptance, service provision, case closure and current employment status.
and Wheaton et al., (1996) suggested that the type and amount of VR
provided differ by racial or ethnic group.
Although some research shows statistically insignificant differences in acceptance rates across racial lines, the overall evidence shows a significant difference, in favor of European Americans. This unequal outcome is especially true for African Americans, and merits focused attention, at the state and national levels to close the gap.
Vocational rehabilitation as a social intervention program for consumers would be well served if opportunities for improvement are examined. The vocational rehabilitation system based on this literature review is currently serving the majority population. Re-evaluating the eligibility component of vocational rehabilitation by examining counselor bias, providing multicultural trainings to staff, as well as attempting to eliminate subjectivity in the determination process and recruiting more diverse staff into the vocational rehabilitation system may prove to be effective in increasing minority representation the VR system.
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