How can school and agency personnel work together to support smooth transitions for these students?

Page 7: Seamless Transitions

informal 3-way discussionEstablishing high levels of interagency collaboration is an effective way to ensure that students have a seamless transition from high school to post-secondary settings and do not experience gaps in supports and services after exiting school. As mentioned earlier, students should leave school with all the supports and services in place to be successful in the workplace or post-secondary education setting. This is considered the ideal type of transition. The major features of seamless transitions include:

  • A focus on individualized student transition planning
  • Collaboration between adult agency personnel (e.g., college or university disability support coordinators, employers) and school personnel to support the youth
  • Resource and cost sharing among schools and various agencies
  • Paid and non-paid work experiences in integrated settings in high school
  • Community-based experiences focused on the individual’s needs (e.g., shopping, recreation)
  • A job in place or acceptance into a training program or post-secondary education setting before high school graduation

Research Shows

  • Students with disabilities continue to be employed post high school at lower rates than their peers without disabilities. However, students who have work experience during school are more likely to be successfully employed as adults.
    (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016; Carter, Austin, & Trainor, 2012)
  • When there is a lack of organized collaboration between programs, the student transitioning from high school to post-secondary work or school settings often experiences a break in service, or disjointed, uncoordinated services.
    (Certo et al., 2009)

 

Rich Lueking

Rich Luecking describes seamless transitions and the importance of students having work experiences prior to leaving high school. Next, he gives an example of a student who experienced a seamless transition because of interagency collaboration between the school and vocational rehabilitation personnel (time: 4:04).

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Rich Luecking, EdD
Research Professor
University of Maryland

For Your Information

Many colleges across the country now have programs designed for students with intellectual disabilities (ID) as part of a trend towards making the college experience accessible for everyone. This is another area that requires high levels of interagency collaboration to be successful. Students with ID participate in college life in several ways:

  • They take college courses of interest to them with modifications that can support their career goals.
  • They take courses specifically designed for them related to goals such as time management and other independent living skills.
  • They have the opportunity to meet new people and make new friends through activities such as clubs, organizations, and sporting events.
  • They learn important life skills, such as leading a healthy lifestyle (e.g., working out, eating healthy foods).

The length of these programs varies from one year to four. Generally, students might receive a college certificate as opposed to a college degree when they complete the program. For more information, visit Think College, a national organization dedicated to improving higher education options for students with intellectual disabilities.

Think College logo

Revisit the Challenge

kaylaAs the school year progresses, Ms. Fields continues to work with Kayla, a student with motor-skills and communication difficulties, to make her transition as seamless as possible. Kayla has attended a college fair at her school to get an idea of what college options are available to her. She also attended a career fair to try to narrow her professional interests. As the transition coordinator, Ms. Fields participated in planning both of these events. After consulting with a representative from the Center for Independent Living, Kayla’s family realizes that she needs to be able to do some common household chores in order to live independently, things they have been doing for her because of her disability. The high school occupational therapist will assist by showing Kayla some methods, including the use of assistive devices, to help her complete these chores more independently. In addition, Kayla, her family, and Ms. Fields have met with a mobility manager to learn about transportation options. The mobility manager represented the accessible transportation agency. He let her know that, based on the information he has now, she will be eligible for these services when she turns 18, but also tells her that she will need to formally apply for them at that time.

Activity

cooperMrs. Ibarra continues to meet with Cooper and discuss his transition plans. Last month, she arranged, through her interagency contacts, for Cooper and his family to visit a culinary arts program at a local community college. After this visit, he decides he wants to attend this program. There is an application process for admittance to the culinary arts program that requires a high school transcript, letters of reference, and a video of the student using a recipe to cook a dish. The culinary arts program is located 10 miles from his home and, if accepted, Cooper will need to figure out how he will travel and from school. Cooper has several other concerns, the cost of the program and his ability to keep up in class because of his reading and math skills. Interagency collaborations supported Cooper’s transition in multiple ways. To complete the application process for the culinary arts program, Mrs. Ibarra works with Cooper in the early spring to help him submit all the components of his application and financial aid paperwork on time. He is accepted into the program and will begin in the fall semester. He is offered a partial scholarship that covers the majority of his tuition costs. In addition, Mrs. Ibarra arranges a meeting with a representative from the student aid office at the community college (CC). As a result, he has been offered a work-study job that will cover the remainder of his tuition, books, and supplies. Close to the end of the school year, Mrs. Ibarra accompanies Cooper to a meeting at the CC disability services office where they discuss his disability related needs. He qualifies for several accommodations, which will be in place on his first day of class. As part of his growing responsibility for his own independence, Cooper signs up for a driver’s education class during the summer. Mrs. Ibarra arranges for a peer tutor to help him study for the test. If he passes, his uncle will let him have his old truck so that Cooper will be able to get to and from his classes. If he doesn’t pass the driver’s test, his grandmother and Mr. Owen have agreed to transport him. The disability services coordinator at the college also let Cooper and his family know that the college has a ride-match application that can be downloaded through a phone that enables students to find rides from other students attending the college. This provides further back-up for Cooper if his family or Mr. Owen are unable to drive him. Cooper will continue to work part-time for Mr. Owen during the summer and possibly on weekends in the fall.

Below are three features of a seamless transition plan. Identify and describe examples of these features in Cooper’s plan (above). What informal supports does Cooper have?

Feature of a Seamless Transition

Components of Cooper’s Transition Plan

Collaboration between adult agency personnel and school personnel

Work experiences throughout secondary school

A job in place or acceptance into a training program or post-secondary education setting before high school graduation

Feature of a Seamless Transition

Components of Cooper’s Transition Plan

Collaboration between adult agency personnel and school personnel

Mrs. Ibarra arranges a meeting with a representative from the student aid office at the community college (CC).

Mrs. Ibarra arranges for Cooper to visit a culinary arts program at a local community college.

Work experiences throughout secondary school

Cooper worked at a local neighborhood eatery through high school.

A job in place or acceptance into a training program or post-secondary education setting before high school graduation

Cooper has been admitted into a culinary arts program and has secured a work study position to supplement costs of tuition.

Mrs. Ibarra works with Cooper in the early spring to help him submit all the components of his application and financial aid paperwork on time.

Cooper will continue to work part-time for Mr. Owen during the summer and possibly on weekends in the fall.

Cooper’s informal supports include:

  • A peer tutor to help him study for the driver’s test
  • Cooper’s grandmother and Mr. Owen to help transport him if needed

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