• Professor
+1 612-624-1062
+1 612-624-8279
Org Leadership, Policy & Dev
Room 233 BuH [map]
178 Pillsbury Dr SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

David R. Johnson, Ph.D., is an Emma Birkmaier Professor of Educational Leadership in the College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota. Dr. Johnson's faculty appointment is in the Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development where he conducts research, teaches courses, and advises graduate students in evaluation studies and research methods. A former Director of the Institute on Community Integration (ICI), he has also been Principal Investigator of numerous research, training, and demonstration projects. His research interests include investigations of postschool outcomes, school completion, state systems change, cost-benefit analysis, and other policy-related research. Dr. Johnson has published more than 100 book chapters, journal articles, research monographs, technical reports, and products on topics concerning secondary education, special education, interagency collaboration, and other themes related to his research interests. His research and evaluation results have been used by U.S. Congressional committees, state legislatures, state education agencies, and other organizations.



Check & Connect: A Model for Engaging and Retaining Students with Intellectual Disabilities in Higher Education [Archived]

Establishes an inclusive and comprehensive model for engaging and retaining students with intellectual disabilities in higher education programs. Building on the Check & Connect model, this…


National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS 2012)

Conducts a national study of transition-age students with disabilities to identify the challenges they encounter in their preparation for post-high-school life, and the factors that may facilitate…


Relative Impact of Interventions to Improve Achievement and Retention in Postsecondary Occupational Programs [Archived]

Studied retention programs at community colleges in four states. Each college had strong programs for Career and Technical Education students who are studying for careers requiring a one- or…


MN Act Early Ambassador

Develops and expands on the Institute's Act Early work in culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Act Early is building a national network of agencies, organizations, and professionals…


Making a Map: Finding My Way Back (MAP) [Archived]

Develops and implements a comprehensive, evidence-based model to support juvenile offenders with disabilities transitioning from juvenile justice facilities into secondary and postsecondary…


Dogged Determination: An Anthology of the 1957 Law Requiring Education for Handicapped Children in Minnesota's Public Schools -- A First in the Nation [Archived]

Wrote and published the book, Dogged Determination: An Anthology of the 1957 Law Requiring Education for Handicapped Children in Minnesota's Public Schools -- A First in the Nation .…


Transition from School to Work for Minnesota's Youth With Disabilities: An Oral History [Archived]

Conducted and transcribed eight interviews with persons who were involved in developing and implementing policies during the 1980s and '90s that helped reduce the unemployment rate among youth with…


Check & Connect: A Comprehensive Student Engagement Intervention

Provides training in use of the Check & Connect student engagement intervention model to promote students' engagement with school, reduce dropout, and increase school completion. The Check &…


ICI Engaged Department Grant Program [Archived]

Creates an infrastructure to grow and develop ongoing community engagement, and to facilitate new initiatives and promote engaged learning on community based action research. In doing so, ICI hopes…


TIES Center: Increasing Time, Instructional Effectiveness, Engagement, and State Support for Inclusive Practices for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

Creates sustainable changes in school and district educational systems so that students with significant cognitive disabilities can fully engage in the same instructional and non-instructional…


Systemic Supports for Promoting Graduation

Develops technology tools that support the expanded national implementation of two evidence-based web applications over the next five years: Check & Connect school engagement intervention and the…


Research Special Education Teachers: How the Field Evolved in Minnesota

Researches how the field of special education teachers evolved from the 1850s to the present time. There were no requirements for teachers in the beginning. In 1910, half of all teachers did not…


Consortium for Postsecondary Education for Individuals with Developmental Disabilities (Think College) [Archived]

Conducted research, provided training and technical assistance, and disseminated information on promising practices that support individuals with developmental disabilities to increase their…


Making the Connection: Engaging and Retaining Young Adults in Postsecondary Education [Archived]

Developed a postsecondary version of the Check & Connect student engagement model to increase students' ability to overcome barriers and persist in successful program completion in community…


National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) [Archived]

Focuses on improved access and success for students with disabilities in secondary and postsecondary education, as well as employment, independent living, and community participation. Activities…


National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD) [Archived]

Provides training and technical assistance, and conducts research, that support state and local policies to promote full access to high quality workforce development services on the part of youth…


Exploring Predictors of Transition Planning Participation and Future Goal Aspirations of Secondary Students with Disabilities

Explores the relationship between IEP transition planning meeting factors (e.g., a secondary student’s invitation, participation, and contribution) and the student’s aspirations for postsecondary…


NCSET Information Brief: High School Graduation Requirements and Students with Disabilities

A brief outlining issues and controversies surrounding the use of exit examinations - an increasingly common graduation requirement for secondary schools - including the reasons proponents support…

Published: February 2005

NCSET Information Brief: Diploma Options for Students with Disabilities

A brief outlining the different types of diploma options (alternative means of graduating from high school), discussing the benefits of systems with single diploma options and those with multiple…

Published: February 2005

NCEO Technical Reports: Revisiting Graduation Requirements and Diploma Options for Youth with Disabilities: A National Study (#49)

A document reporting on National Center on Educational Outcomes' (NCEO) fourth study of state graduation requirements for students with disabilities. This national study was designed to describe…

Published: December 2007

NCEO Technical Reports: A National Study on Graduation Requirements and Diploma Options for Youth with Disabilities (#36)

This 2003 report updates the status of states' graduation requirements and diploma options for students with disabilities after the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Published: October 2003

NCSET Essential Tools: Handbook for Implementing a Comprehensive Work-Based Learning Program According to the Fair Labor Standards Act

A manual with information and examples for school personnel to operate effective work-based learning programs consistent with the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Sample forms, agreements, and…

Published: February 2005

NCSET Essential Tools: Increasing Rates of School Completion - Moving From Policy and Research to Practice

A cutting-edge manual for educators, administrators and policymakers describing 11 proven interventions for increasing school completion among youth with disabilities. The interventions selected…

Published: May 2004

NCEO Reports: Diploma Options, Graduation Requirements, and Exit Exams for Youth with Disabilities: 2017 National Study (#409)

This report presents the results of a study undertaken to update what is known about the status of graduation policies across the nation. Three research questions served as the focus of this…

Published: March 2019

NCSET Issue Brief: Students with Disabilities who Drop Out of School: Implications for Policy and Practice

A brief that uses research-based information defining the problem of an unacceptably high dropout rate for students with disabilities and articulates proven intervention strategies. The brief…

Published: July 2002

NCEO Technical Reports: Diploma Options, Graduation Requirements, and Exit Exams for Youth with Disabilities: 2011 National Study (#62)

A report documenting results from the fifth in a series of similar studies on state graduation policies and diploma options conducted by the National Center on Educational Outcomes (NCEO). The…

Published: April 2012

Policy Research Brief: A Qualitative Study of the Experiences of Transition-Age Youth with Disabilities in Relation to SSI Redetermination

A brief presenting selected findings from a study and literature review describing the experiences of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) recipients and nonrecipients and their families in relation…

Published: July 2007

Preparing for Life After High School: The Characteristics and Experiences of Youth in Special Education. Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012. Volume 1: Comparisons with Other Youth: Full Report

A report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012). The NLTS 2012, which is part of the congressionally-mandated National Assessment of the Individuals with Disabilities...

Published: 2017

Preparing for Life After High School: The Characteristics and Experiences of Youth in Special Education. Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012. Volume 2: Comparisons Across Disability Groups: Full Report

A report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012); a second report, Volume 1, also relates to this study. The NLTS 2012, which is part of the congressionally-mandated…

Published: 2017

Impact: Feature Issue on the Justice System and People with Intellectual, Developmental, and Other Disabilities

An issue in the Impact series that discusses unique and serious challenges people with intellectual, developmental, and other disabilities often face with the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

Published: Spring 2017

A Better Path, A Better Future: Three Federally-Funded Projects Supporting Community Reentry of Youth with Disabilities Leaving Juvenile Justice Facilities

A report describing three innovative projects that have developed strategies for improving the reentry of youth with disabilities from juvenile justice facilities into school, community,…

Published: November 2017

Preparing for Life After High School: The Characteristics and Experiences of Youth in Special Education, Volume 3: Comparisons Over Time

A report from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012); two earlier reports, Volumes 1 and 2, also relate to this study. The NLTS 2012, which is part of the...

Published: 2018

Exploring correlates of paid early work experiences for youth with autism: Using NLTS2012 data

Prior research has demonstrated that paid work experience while in school is a predictor of postschool employment outcomes for youth with disabilities. For youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder…

Published: 12/9/2020

Parents’ postsecondary education expectations for students with autism, intellectual disability, and multiple disabilities: Findings from NLTS 2012

This study uses data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 to examine predictors at the individual, family, and school levels associated with parental expectations toward…

Published: 2020-10-19

IEP/transition planning participation among students with the most significant cognitive disabilities: Findings from NLTS 2012

This study used data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012) to explore the individualized education program (IEP)/transition planning participation and role of students…

Published: 2020-08-28

Moving Ahead with PROMISE: Lessons Learned from Six Model Demonstration Projects Through the Promoting Readiness of Minors in Supplemental Security Income Project

This report from ICI and partners documents lessons learned from model demonstrations projects (MDPs) nationwide who tested an intervention for support transition-age youth who receive Supplemental...

Published: 2/13/2020

Exploring Predictors of Bullying and Victimization of Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Findings from NLTS 2012

Research suggests that bullying victimization occurs at higher rates among students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) than among their typically-developing peers. This study used data from the…

Published: 2/19/2021

What matters: Lessons learned from the implementation of PROMISE model demonstration projects

Background: PROMISE Model Demonstration Projects (MDPs) are on the front line of innovative, comprehensive supports for transition-aged youth and their families. Investments made through PROMISE…

Published: 2019-09-27


  • Education practices (K12 and transition)
    • Dropout prevention and student engagement
      • IEP development
        • Transition planning
          • Youth development and leadership
          • Educational accountability and assessment
            • Diplomas and Graduation Requirements
              • Evaluation of education programs
                • IDEA
                  • State Performance Plans and Annual Performance Reports (SPP/APR)
                  • Employment and postsecondary education
                    • Career preparation
                      • Customized employment
                        • Employment and workforce development
                          • Postsecondary education
                            • Preparing for postsecondary education
                              • Supported employment
                                • Vocational rehabilitation
                                  • Work-based learning
                                  • Specific disability
                                    • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
                                      • Emotional/behavioral disorder (EBD)
                                        • Hearing and/or vision loss
                                          • Intellectual/developmental disability (IDD)
                                            • Learning disabilities
                                              • Mental health and/or chemical dependency
                                                • Multiple disabilities
                                                  • Other health impairment
                                                    • Physical disability


                                                    • Evaluation
                                                      • Research
                                                        • Technical assistance