Category Archives: Transition Services

Utah 2016 Transition Institute

This week Utah will host its annual Transition Institute: “Supporting Transition Planning and Building Capacity to Improve Post-School Outcomes for Students with Disabilities” at Davis Conference Center in Layton. Interspersed with content-rich learning sessions and facilitated team work sessions, LEA teams from all over the state (over 200 people!) will come together to learn how to use a national transition team planning tool, write SMART goals for transition plans and sequence transition plan actions and activities, as well as how to develop tools for evaluating plan implementation and the impact on student outcomes.
 
Participants who have Twitter or Facebook accounts are encouraged to post about the Utah Transition Insitute using the hashtag #uttransition
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Dr. Mary Morningstar: What Does it Take to be College and Career Ready? Improving Outcomes for Youth with Disabilities

Dr. Mary MorningstarDr. Mary Morningstar is the keynote speaker at the Transition pre-conference of the UMTSS* Connections Conference in Layton, Utah June 23 – a three day event of sessions on Leadership, Literacy and Numeracy, Behavior and Positive Behavior Supports, Transition to Career Pathways, Educating English Learners, Special Education, Effective Instruction, Tiered Intervention, Assessment and other topics.

Today’s Transition event will include many topics on preparing students for post secondary education, employment and independent living.

“Dr. Mary E. Morningstar is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas and Director of the Transition Coalition, which offers online transition professional development and resources for secondary special educators and practitioners. Her research agenda includes evaluating secondary teacher quality and professional development, culturally diverse family involvement in transition planning, and interagency collaboration. She is also examining the impact of inclusive secondary experiences for students with significant disabilities on postschool outcomes. Currently, she is developing a multi-dimensional model of adult life engagement for transition.” (http://specialedu.soe.ku.edu/mary-morningstar)

Watch the Transition Universe Facebook and Twitter feeds for updates on the conference.

*Utah Multi-Tiered Systems of Support

Spotlight on Susan Loving, Transition Specialist

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Susan Loving, Transition Specialist at the Utah State Office of Education.

Susan Loving has a rich history in the field of Transition.  She has been working with transition programs since 1991, when she was assigned the responsibility of co-manager of the STUDY Project Grant (a federal systems-change grant) in Tooele School District.

I was ready for a change from providing speech-language services full time, so I welcomed the opportunity to do something different. In working with transition planning and programs, I realized that the purpose of school is to prepare students for adult life, not just to graduate them with a diploma.

Susan currently serves as the Education Specialist for Transition at the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) – Special Education Section. She admits that is a long title, so she usually says she is the Transition Specialist at the USOE. She works with school district and charter school staff, representatives of agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation and DSPD, parent groups, community and advocacy groups – any individual or group of individuals who work with and support transition-aged youth.

Susan’s responsibilities are broad in nature.

The USOE is responsible for ensuring that all eligible students attending Utah school districts and charter schools are receiving a free appropriate public education (FAPE), as required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Appropriate timely transition planning is part of a FAPE for a student of transition age.

To that end, Susan is charged with  providing professional development and technical assistance to educators, administrators, families, and other state and community agencies regarding transition planning, agency collaboration, etc. She says that the medium through which this is carried out varies -through a one-on-one phone conversation or site visit, an on-site training session or webinar, or a state-level activity.

Every year, states are required to report the results of state-level activities to the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP); the report, titled the “Annual Performance Report”, addresses student outcomes in a variety of areas. I am responsible for reporting on Utah’s graduation and dropout rates for students with disabilities, the prevalence of complete transition plans in the IEP, and post school outcomes (engagement in education and employment/training) of students with disabilities.

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Illinois Program Designs Disability Awareness Curricula for Students of All Ages

Students in some Illinois school districts receive early education on disability and independent living and employment, thanks to an initiative that incorporates three different curricula, implemented through the community partner “RAMP“, an Illinois non-residential Center for Independent Living. By working with school districts to incorporate these programs, barriers are being dismantled and attitudes changed about people with disabilities being successful in society.

RAMP created a continuum of services that help to strengthen and build the educational and economic success for people with disabilities.

The iBelong curriculum is designed for elementary students as young as pre-K while the Ignite curriculum is designed for middle school students. The teens in Transition curriculum (T’NT) is designed to work with teenagers as they transition to adulthood.

IBelong is taught pre-K thru through sixth grade to all students. The goal is to promote acceptance by teaching children early and consistently that we have more in common with each other than not.

Students in seventh and eighth grade who have disabilities can use the Ignite curriculum to learn more about themselves so they can become better self-advocates.

RAMP’s third curriculum is Teens in Transition. It is designed to help teenagers with disabilities prepare for their transition into adulthood. T’NT aims to increase students’ chances of becoming young adults prepared to further their education, gain employment, responsibly manage a budget and live independently in the community.

The approaches taken by RAMP have left a lasting impression on students. A Rockford teacher said: “I feel as though having RAMP and the community partners come in to teach the lessons helped the students learn about these topics better than just having the teacher teach about it.”

Read the article here.

Read more about RAMP here.

Spotlight on Teresa Berden Clarkson, Transition Teacher

Teresa Clarkson has worked as a Transition Teacher and CTE Career Coach.

Teresa Clarkson has worked as a Transition Teacher and CTE Career Coach.

Teresa Berden Clarkson has a well established and admirable career working with students with disabilities.  She first began teaching 20 years ago at a Western Michigan University with student services.  She progressed to St. Clair County Community College – first as a Placement Specialist and then as a Career Counselor, continuing on the Macomb Community College as a Special Services Counselor.   Teresa then took  a detour back to secondary education in Grand County School District in Utah where she works as a Special Educator and CTE Career Coach.   Teresa’s current job responsibilities include counseling students in CTE pathways and Program of Study; surveying CTE graduates; collaborating with secondary, post-secondary, and industry partners; promoting College & Career Readiness Standards; coordinating the Grand County High School Annual Career Fair; advocatingfor CTE scholarship applicants; and assisting with Work-Based Learning Opportunities.

I serve a diverse range of students – exceptional learners, CTE technical students, at-risk populations, and gifted/talented from middle school to college age adults.

When asked what has been the most important development in Transition, Teresa states that,

new online transition assessment tools which allow teachers to gather transition data and compare results from student, teacher, and a parent prospective. The most positive things about working in Transition are when the joy you see on the face of students when they get their first job or get a paid internship position.  Every student should experience the sense of accomplishment for achieving a goal such as graduation or other milestone.

Teresa feels that the biggest challenge in her work with Transition students is often not with students, but with family members.

It is important for students to play an active role in their transition process; therefore, parents often struggle with letting their child set a goal for themselves for the first time.  Parents occasionally need support/coaching on how to help students create realistic, achievable goals.

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Iowa School District Implements Unique Transition Program

While many students with disabilities across the country meet the academic requirements to earn their highs school diploma, they so not necessarily meet the goals in their IEPs for transition to adulthood. Yet the regulations set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) stipulate that a student is not eligible for services under IDEA once a diploma has been earned and issued.  This conundrum has had special educators perplexed, parents frustrated and students confused about next steps.

One Iowa school district has a solution, thanks to a grant for transition to employment.  It has launched a program to aid students with disabilities who have met their graduation requirements but need to continue to work on transition goals.

Dubuque Community Schools soon will begin its new Summit Program for certain students who receive special-education services.

Lori Anderson, transition facilitator with the district, said the new program combines the best aspects of the district’s Lifetime Center and Super Senior programs to help guide students and their families on the path of independent learning, living and working.

Anderson said the district reviewed its career readiness and transition-based programs after receiving a Model Employment Transition Site grant in 2012. The grant’s goal is to increase the number of students with disabilities who successfully transition from school to employment. The review led to the new program.

Students who have met their graduation requirements but have an unmet Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goal or transition need are eligible for the program. They can walk with their classmates at graduation, but they will not receive their diploma until they leave the program.

Read more here.

“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.

“STEP” Provides College Opportunities for Students with Disabilities

Another college, in Massachussetts, on board with providing transition opportunities for students with disabilities!

The Norton program, known as STEP, serves students with intellectual disabilities who are involved with three programs at Bridgewater [State University], STEP program teacher Ashley Rodrigues said.

While all of the programs are geared toward students with intellectual disabilities, the Transitions at Bridgewater and Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment programs are both designed for high school students between the ages of 18 and 22 who have been unable to pass the MCAS tests, Rodrigues said.

Transitions at Bridgewater offers students weekly workshops covering topics such as money management, social skills, campus and social media safety and interview skills.

The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment program gives students an opportunity to audit a course and experience college life, including spending time with college students.

Read the article here.

 

Project SEARCH Model Continues to Provide Opportunities

The Project SEARCH model, originally launched in Ohio, continues to grow and provide high school to employment opportunities for students with disabilities.

Jesse Potter worked diligently on a recent morning to disinfect and clean a baby bed inside the University of New Mexico Hospital’s newborn intensive care unit.

Potter, 20, who has Down syndrome, is an intern at the hospital under a new program called Project Search.

Through the job training program – a first-year collaboration between the school district, UNMH and several other partners – students with developmental disabilities work as unpaid interns at the hospital and, if they successfully complete their training, the hospital hires them as full-time employees.

“You can see the pride” in Jesse, said his mother, Julie Potter.

The internship gives her son a sense of purpose and he thinks of it as his college experience, she said.

When Jesse graduated high school in 2013, he joined APS’s transition services, a program that helps students with disabilities transition to life after high school.

It was a scary time, not unlike when Julie Potter first learned Jesse had Down syndrome, she said. She questioned whether Jesse would be able to find a job, much less one that he liked and that filled him with a sense of accomplishment. After learning about Project Search, she rushed to sign up her son.

Read the article here.

More information on Project SEARCH

New Transition Center to Provide Transition Opportunities for High School Students with Disabilities

Three national organizations will merge together to create the National Technical Assistance Center on Improving Transition to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students with Disabilities.  The national program will be housed at UNC Charlotte and will launch January 1, 2015.

The center will be housed in a suite of offices within the university’s College of Education.

Made possible through a $12.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, the new center will absorb two other national organizations: the National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities, based at Clemson University; and the National Post-School Outcomes Center at the University of Oregon.

All three universities – in addition to Western Michigan University, the University of Kansas and TransCen Inc., an organization that provides assistance for students with disabilities – will combine research efforts under one roof.

The center will work within special education and vocational rehabilitation systems at the state level to improve the transition process for high school students with disabilities entering college or the workplace.