Category Archives: Academic Skills

“Linking Learning to Life”: Strengthening Transition Skills

A Pennsylvania School District has implemented a program that helps students develop employment and independent living skills.  Partnered with local businesses, the district High School has created an on site classroom that provides simulated experiences and career coaching.

Learning to Life (LLtL) is a two-tier secondary transition designed to aid students in making the progression from the classroom to post-school life. Activities are based on the individual’s needs, ranging from those with mild disabilities to students with more significant needs who require extensive support, and consider his or her strengths, preferences and interests.

“The majority of our services were previously contracted with outside providers,” said DiMarino-Linnen. “They tended to be ‘one size fits all’ and students were oriented to a community that was not their own.”

To address the concerns, LLtL considers the various paths students will take in the months and years after high school. For some, the focus is on independent living; for others, post-secondary competitive employment, trade school or college. Planning begins no later than the first IEP when the student turns 14, with a team which can involve the individual, parents, general and special education personnel and an agency representative. Issues such as course selection and the extended school year (ESY) program are addressed.

Read the article here.

Postsecondary Education Linked to Higher Employment Rates

An increasing number of postsecondary programs for students with intellectual disabilities are being created and implemented across the United States……with evidence of successful outcomes, according to a recent study.

Individuals with intellectual disabilities who attend postsecondary programs are finding greater success in the job market than those who do not pursue further education, a new study suggests.

Graduates of postsecondary programs reported higher rates of employment since completing high school, according to findings published online this month in the Journal of Intellectual Disabilities. The research offers support for a growing number of programs at colleges and universities specifically geared toward young adults with developmental disabilities.

Read the article here.

 

Aggies Elevated Program Accepts Students Into First Cohort

A new program for students with developmental and intellectual disabilities at Utah State University,  Aggies Elevated,  has accepted its first cohort for the Fall of 2014.

The Aggies Elevated program was created with young adult learners in mind by experts in the fields of disability and special education at USU’s Emma Eccles Jones College of Education and Human Services.

Our supportive and inclusive environment is close to home, yet far enough away to give young adults with intellectual or other disabilities the opportunity to learn and grow while participating in all the activities that a traditional residential campus has to offer.

Students in the new program will develop academic and independent living skills and will engage in career exploration, work internship, vocational electives, and personal growth through coursework tailored to each individual. Part of each student’s plan will also include  community-based work internships.

Smiling With Hope Bakery: Real Life Skills with a Smile

Students in a Newark, Ohio High School are all smiles when it comes to making pizza. Smiling With Hope Bakery is operated by students with disabilities in a non-traditional way.

When it comes to pizzerias, the Smiling with Hope Bakery is not what you might call traditional.

Smiling with Hope is in a school, which means locked doors and specific hours.

There’s no direct phone line, no advertising, and customers have to order in advance.

There’s only one size option for pizzas, 18 inches, and two topping choices: cheese or pepperoni.

Still, the pizza is good, and people are starting to notice. This winter, Smiling with Hope Bakery — run by special-needs students at Newark High School — will be featured on Serious Eats, a cluster of websites dedicated to celebrating food.

Walter Gloshinski, Special Education Teacher, musician, and founder of Smiling With Hope, created this video as a thank you to the community for supporting the program:

….[Walter] Gloshinski has a caseload of six students at Newark High School, and they spend most of the day working in the bakery. There are another 10 that stop by just for a class period — Gloshinski’s students go elsewhere during that time for academic training — but to Gloshinski, the important factor is his students are learning while they bake. They’re not just rolling dough and shuttling pans in and out of ovens; they’re learning how to measure, shop, take inventory, follow directions for deliveries and work on a team, even with people they may not like.

Those are all necessary skills for the real world, Gloshinski said, and they are skills that will help his students land jobs later in life.

Read more about Smiling With Hope Bakery here.

See the Smiling With Hope Bakery website with menu here.

“For special education students, diplomas, jobs increasingly elusive”

This article, posted in The Hechinger Report, February 3, 2014, chronicles the struggles of a young woman with a disability in pursuing her post-secondary education because she did not have a standard diploma.

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — Four weeks into a medical assistant program at Antonelli College, Nikki Mclendon eagerly took her parents to the college’s student appreciation day. The 20-year-old looked forward to discussing her progress and pre-registering for the next term, but instead received devastating news.

School officials told the Mclendons their daughter was ineligible to continue. Without warning, the career technical college that accepted Mclendon a year after she finished high school said the “occupational diploma” she’d received from Forrest County Agricultural High School disqualified her.

“I thought, ‘What? I just went through my first semester of college…. I’m having a blast at it, and you all are ruining my career,’” Mclendon recalled.

Mclendon had no way of knowing the alternate diploma many Mississippi special education students choose if they cannot meet the academic requirements of a regular diploma would be a roadblock to higher education and a career — one the state can ill afford. In Mississippi, some 20 percent of youth ages 16-24 are not in school or the workplace, the highest rate in the U.S., according to U.S. census data.

When Mclendon was admitted to Antonelli, the school had not yet received her transcript, said Steve Bryant, president of Antonelli’s Hattiesburg campus. Mclendon was allowed to start classes and start paying tuition for the $30,000 program, which was refunded when she left. Then the transcript showed that she had not passed all her exit exams, and did not have a regular diploma.

“If we can’t verify when the transcripts arrive that they did in fact receive a normal, regular high school diploma, then the student’s conditional acceptance is revoked,” Bryant said.

What happened to Nikki Mclendon is emblematic of a larger problem in Mississippi, where students are much less likely to graduate with a regular diploma after they are classified with a disability. A review of data by the Clarion-Ledger, of Jackson, Miss., found that the majority of special education students receive an occupational diploma, meant to prepare students for a job, or a certificate of completion, meant to honor special education students’ efforts in high school — even if they fell short of graduation requirements.

As a result, thousands of capable students leave high school with few career and education options in a state with one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates.

Read the article here.

Doing the Math: How Prepared are College-Bound Students With Disabilities?

This spring 2013 study was conducted by Adam D. King, masters student in the Utah State University Transition Specialist Program.

In the process of moving through secondary grades towards high school graduation, many students with mild disabilities (e.g., specific learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, emotional disturbance) fall behind their peers without disabilities in math achievement (Powell, Fuchs, & Fuchs, 2013; Wagner, Newman, Cameto, & Levine, 2006). This gap in math achievement places students with mild disabilities at a disadvantage when it comes to entering postsecondary education. Over half of all students with specific learning disabilities enter higher education (e.g., applied technology colleges, community colleges, universities), but only about one-fourth of them are awarded diplomas (compared to 54% of peers without disabilities).

The gap in math achievement is likely caused by several factors. First, many students are well behind grade level expectations when they are evaluated for special education eligibility. Second, special education teachers themselves are often not specialists in math assessment and instruction. Third, special instruction is often delivered in resource rooms which may reduce opportunities of both teachers and students from interacting in the general education classroom and understanding the high math expectations. Fourth, limitations in funding have eliminated qualified teacher and paraprofessional positions critical to provision of intensive, individualized instruction (Strawser & Miller, 2001).

We wanted to determine the extent to which students with mild disabilities were ready for college math, but by investigating teacher perception rather than test scores. Teacher perceptions are important because they have a powerful influence over what is taught in the classroom and how. We conducted a survey to find out the extent to which resource classroom special education teachers in high schools perceived students with mild disabilities (those who had postsecondary education goals) to be prepared for math at the college level. “College” was defined as either two or four-year post-secondary institutions. We also wanted to find out what resource teachers perceived as barriers to math preparedness and what they suggested as possible solutions.

Continue reading here.