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May 15th Dedham Holiday Inn
Embedding Compliant Post-secondary Transition Planning into Current District Practices
Although post-secondary transition planning has been a component of special education regulations since Chapter 766 was enacted in 1972, this process seems to have become increasingly difficult to implement since the passage of IDEIA2004. In the past, the in-house provision of programming for students ages 18-22 was usually designed to address continuing academic needs with some options available for in-school or limited community-based work-sites. IEPs for students whose disabilities did not limit their cognitive capacity were most often written as if the goal of special education was attainment of a regular high school diploma and perhaps support for the college application process or with employment application strategies.
Over the past decade there has been an increased awareness by IEP Team participants of the need for more individualized services for all students receiving services through an IEP. This awareness has sometimes come as the result of IEP Team members being confronted with parent or advocate requests for full implementation of the required post-secondary transition planning process, implementation at a level of individualization that is unfamiliar to district IEP Team members.
Over the past five years the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has disseminated multiple advisories, clarifying the elements of this process. The expectation of full student participation in IEP Teams by age 14 has resulted in middle school IEP services expanding to include students provided training in understanding their IEPs, developing awareness of the impact of their disability(s) on their lives and developing more independence in both school and community. Changes to already familiar procedures can be difficult, especially when schedules often are already crowded and special education staff can perceive the requirements of the post-secondary transition planning process as stressful or overwhelming. The sometimes unrealistic expectations of disparate Team members, the uncertainty of how to address family’s anticipation of increased skill mastery, the limited time for consultation embedded in service schedules and the individual specificity of the process has led to numerous settlements or outplacements to collaboratives or private settings by districts to avoid entanglement in the appeals process.
It has become clear during IEP Teams for students placed at League by in-state districts that some districts have developed imaginative and creative responses to the demands of the post-secondary transition process. After discussions with some of our sending districts and outreach to target districts for presenters, League is sponsoring what we hope will be a valuable day of sharing in a conference setting. It is our hope that by presenting an opportunity for districts to come together and share innovative and useful in-house curricula, materials and processes that they’ve developed, participants can return to their districts with low or no cost suggestions of how to expand implementation of their post-secondary transition training process. Presenters have a broad range of specialized experience in addition to a willingness to share rubrics, assessments, procedures, collaborative tools and sample lessons within workshops.
The conference will begin with a 2 hour overview with resource materials and activities related to IEP and TPF development. Each participant will review an IEP/TPF from their district in terms of compliance and process. Dr. Margaret Reed, a DESE CSPD trainer, will lead this section for all participants. Following this presentation, attendees will have the option of participating in 3 workshops..
- Newton Public Schools: Newton has developed a transition training scope and sequence curriculum for grades 8 – 12 which will be shared with participants. The process used to develop the structure for addressing specific transition skills as well as resources created to support student and parent participation will be distributed and discussed.
- Norwood Public Schools: Norwood has developed a district-wide assessment process that provides baseline data from 8th grade forward and allows special education teachers to capture relevant student skill information for transition planning and IEP services. They will share samples of assessment tools, synthesis of information for TPF and IEP development. A focus on their sequence of student skills mastery and data collection will allow participant to review formal assessment tools to no-cost online assessments available through federal grant sites.
- League School: Several sample lessons will be modeled and materials shared for teaching the same Standard in a variety of methods to include those skills identified by DESE as elements of Self-Determination to a variety of students with differing cognitive and learning profiles.
- Taunton Public Schools: Through in-house collaboration and involvement of instructional stakeholders, Taunton has developed a cluster of elective courses, designed to prepare students not only for the more rigorous higher level electives, but also to develop needed skills including time management, self-advocacy, financial management and personal skills needed for post-secondary career/employment/education. The electives range from financial literacy to food preparation and are designed for students with a wide range of learning differences. The content of the courses and the processes used to develop them as well as the target “next step” courses will be presented and discussed.
- League School: Processes developed to support student understanding of his/her disability and IEP as well as examples and materials related to helping students produce materials/discussion points/PowerPoints for use at their IEP Teams will be shared with examples and resources provided to attendees.
- Acton-Boxboro Regional Schools: The district has developed a sequence of transition planning programs and services that involve all students receiving services through IEPs. The district will share their process for redesigning prior programs to move toward research-based models. In addition, the partnering of the district with the area’s community college, human service agencies and post-secondary setting will be explained and resource materials provided. The design and scheduling of Learning Centers as well as the development and options individually available to students with dual diagnoses or co-morbid profiles will be shared.
- Mansfield Public Schools: The district used 243 grant funds to develop course offerings specific to transition planning and skill building in line with the Massachusetts College and Career readiness definitions. The courses developed address academic, personal/social, and workplace readiness. The presentation will include information on the organized collaboration between general and special educators and community-based resources. The district will also provide “how to” information on organizing a Job Fair which was a highly visible and very well attended project last year.
We hope you will consider this an opportunity to obtain extensive information to help your district or school develop options within or create additional components to your current post-secondary transition training sequence to meet the challenges of the state and federal requirements. Please register early as the number of participants will be limited in an effort to make the break-out sessions and workshops as useful as possible.
Patrick Fuller, Principal
League School of Greater Boston