Date of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Monica Burnette, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Rong Chen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Thomas Massarelli, Ph.D.


Retention, Accommodations, Disability, Specific Learning Disability, Higher Education


Students with disabilities are entering higher education at higher rates than ever before. However, the retention rates of these students are disproportionately low compared to peers without disabilities. More so, students with learning disabilities are less likely to be retained compared to those with other types of disabilities. This study sought to examine the factors that influence first to second year retention of students with disabilities, specifically those with learning disabilities. Among these factors, the study placed a specific focus on the use of accommodations. Utilizing data from the High School Longitudinal Study (HSLS:09), descriptive and inferential analyses were conducted to address the three research questions. Findings indicated that students who identified as having a disability had lower odds of being retained compared to students who did not identify as having a disability. For students with disabilities, there was no significant difference in retention between those who utilized accommodations and those who did not utilize accommodations. For students with learning disabilities, there was a significant and negative association between accommodation use and retention. Other backgrounds and college-level characteristics were also associated with retention for both samples. This study outlines implications for university practice and policy based on those findings. Recommendations for future research are also discussed.