In 2014 the US Congress reauthorized the Rehabilitation Act via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). WIOA is the first legislative reform of the public workforce system in more than 15 years. It strengthens and improves our nation’s public workforce system and increases economic opportunities for individuals in the United States, especially youth and individuals with significant barriers to employment. In addition to increasing services to youth with disabilities, WIOA intends to support employer engagement, emphasize competitive integrated employment, enhance accountability, and promote collaboration between human services, education, and labor efforts. In short, WIOA heralded the most significant changes in VR structure and practice in a generation.
WIOA fundamentally changed the way VR programs are be measured and evaluated by the federal government. The new measures are as follows:
New WIOA Measures
- Employment rate two quarters post program exit
- Employment rate four quarters post program exit
- Median earnings at two quarters post program exit
- Credential attainment
- Measurable skills gains
- Employer satisfaction (this measure is calculated across all workforce system partners, not at the DVR level, and is not reported here for that reason)
These measures are calculated for VR as a whole in Vermont, and thus combines both DVR and DBVI cases. For more detail about the new WIOA measures, please see the Technical Assistance Circular. We believe the measures will support and encourage VR programs to focus on longer term outcomes for our consumers and help them build career pathways to higher wage employment. DVR is already looking at current practice and resource allocation through this lens.
Data collection needed to calculate these new measures began in 2017, hence it took a considerable amount of time before each measure could be reported, a baseline set such that targets could be negotiated with the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration. SFY 2021 was the first year in which all five WIOA Common Performance Measures could be calculated. The SFY 2021 results data shows Vermont VR consumers are achieving outcomes at a higher rate than the national average on all five performance measures.
The Measureable Skills Gains Measure
This is the only measure that applies to open cases and thus has less lag associated with its calculation. It represents the share of participants with open cases during the SFY period for both DVR and DBVI who were involved in training or education (denominator) that achieved a measureable skill gain (numerator) such as completing a training program, advancing to the next grade, achieving and Educational Functional Level Gain, or earning credits towards a degree. Because it was not subject to data lags, this measure was the first and only measure for which RSA could set targets, beginning with SFYs 2020 and 2021.