Transition Services for Students with Disabilities


Transition Services for Students with Disabilities Sam Greeno Drake University

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities


Abstract Transition services are for students who have disabilities. These are essential for those with to be functional in the context of society. These services provide students who are in special education the resources they need to able to live a life of independence; they are also designed to collaborate with one another to help students with disabilities to reach their goals. Functional assessments are used in order to establish these goals. Issues of employment, education, and housing are common issues that are repeatedly addressed.

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities Introduction


When students graduate from high school they are faced with many monumental life decisions. A young graduate has to make some of the most important educational, vocational, and housing decisions of their lives (Kellems & Morningstar, 2010). These choices are extremely difficult and strenuous for any individual, but they can be even more difficult for students with disabilities (Zigmond, 2006). That being said, in today¶s economy finding a job is also not an easy task, even with a high-school or college degree. A recent study found that only 57% of students who received special education services will be employed three to five years after leaving high school compared to 69% of students who received general education (Osgood, Foster, Courtney, 2010). Obviously, this is a significant gap that should be addressed. However, there are many available laws and resources put in place to protect and help students with disabilities become the successful citizen that each one of them is fully deserving and capable of being. History of Transition Services Throughout history, individuals with disabilities have been a part of our human culture. Just like everyone else, they too have to find their respective place in this economically driven society after they finish their education (Prater, 2007). In the 20th century, various factory and manufacturing jobs were common for people who did not have the ability or desire to pursue higher education; however, in recent decades many of these repetitive factory jobs have ceased to exist due to the increasing cost effectiveness of machinery and other new technologies that can replace human labor (Goozner, 2004, par.1-5). Essentially this means that there are fewer jobs available for

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities people without the skill that is needed to handle these technologies. In the 1970s, the disability rights movement helped inspire legislators to pass the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EAHCA) (Prater, 2007). Gradually, as the 1980s progressed, The U.S. Department of Education began pushing for the addition of


transition services with the (EAHCA) (Algozzine, Browder & Karvonen, 2001; Johnson, Stodden & Emanuel, 2002). Finally, in 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) took a great step for the transition initiative by becoming the first legislation that required the implementation of transition services within a student¶s IEP (Mazzotti, Rowe & Kelley, 2009). The IDEA act was later revised in 1997, with most recent revision appearing in 2004 (Prater, 2007). This latest revision emphasized the importance of linking a student¶s high school education with their future vocation, life goals, and aspirations (Mazzotti, Rowe, & Kelley, 2009). Who Qualifies for Transition Services? Transition services are given free of cost to those who are deemed eligible for special education services under IDEA¶s requirements for having a disability (Prater, 2007). There are many possible types of disabilities with varying levels of severity that a qualified individual could possess (Prater, 2007). Each disability has its own very specific needs that are associated with it. Some disabilities may require more transitional support than others; for example, individuals with emotional behavioral disorders tend to require more support than individuals with learning disabilities (Zigmond, 2006). Special education services provide each student with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that guarantees them the right to have a free and appropriate education (FAPE) in their least restrictive environment (LRE) (Prater, 2007).

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities All of this language can be difficult to understand being that the IDEA wording is at times vague and general in order to accommodate for all these different possibilities mentioned above; as a result, the part of legislation that describes about transition services is quite vague. The IDEA legislation for transition services reads, ³A


coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that is designed to be within a results oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child¶s movement from school to post-secondary activities.´ This text may create more questions rather than answers. How does the Transition begin? Transitioning is a lifelong process for individuals with disabilities; many mothers believe it starts at birth (Ankeny, Wilkins, Spain, 2009). Usually families are the ones who initiate the transition process by doing very simple things like encouraging their child to make decisions or even being there to support them through the good times and bad (Ankeny, Wilkins & Spain, 2009). On average, students are usually placed into special education. Throughout the elementary and middle school years, teachers incorporate the district¶s self-determination curriculum. Self-determination, briefly summarized, is acting as the primary decision-maker in one¶s life (Prater, 2007). Career development services can help with an individual¶s career awareness (Johnson, Stodden & Emanuel, 2002). An example of career awareness may be when a teacher has his or her students draw a picture of who they want to be when they grow up. One student might draw a firefighter while another might draw a doctor. This may seem like a frivolous exercise; however, these small steps are crucial early in the greater transition process. Schools routinely try self-determination skill building activities because

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities


research shows that students who are self-determined are more likely to stay in school (Zhang & Benz, 2006). As student¶s progress through school they are encourage to excercise these ³inalienable rights´ to help plan one¶s own future (Algozzine, Browder & Karvonen, 2001). When does the IDEA Transition Process start? With the help of these self-determination and career awareness skills, a student can be ushered into the more formal aspect of the transition process. The actual IDEA transition services must start no later than the age of sixteen (this was previously fourteen) (Mazzotti, Rowe, Kelley & Test, 2009; Prater, 2007). These transition services are designed to involve the individual themselves and they should never be excluded from this process (Kellems & Morningstar, 2010). A crucial next step is to create the ³Transition Team´ which will will include many of the same members of the student¶s IEP team (that is teacher, parents, student, outside agencies, someone from the LEA, anyone with needed knowledge) and will partner with other agencies outside of the school (Savage, 2005). Ultimately, the most important person must be the person who needs the transition services. Many times students are not even involved in their transition planning (Zhang & Benz, 2006). Parents have an extremely huge role in the whole transition process; often times they are the only constant people in the transitionee¶s life (Ankeny, Wilkins & Spain, 2009). Depending on the severity of the disabilities, teachers and school counselors can also have a huge role in the whole process too. Many agencies and employers are more than willing to help ease the transition of these students (Johnson, Stodden & Emanuel, 2002). It is the responsibility of the transition team to arrange meetings and arrange plans with outside agencies to

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities


ensure that the student can have ample connections and resources as soon as he steps out the door (Johnson, Stodden & Emanuel, 2002). Transition Assessment Transition assessments play yet another integral role in the transition process. These assessments can give clues to the following: where a student is at, where they are going, and how they will get there (Mazzotti, Rowe & Kelley, 2009). In order to see ³where a student is at,´ they must take transition assessments these may include tests. Transition assessments attempt to find out a student¶s strengths, needs, and preferences in relation to future careers and goals by the continual collection of data (Kellems & Morningstar, 2010). Students can take certain assessments that test their functional living skills to see how they will be able to function on their own on a day to day basis (Mazzotti, Rowe & Kelley, 2009). Goals for Transition With the help of the transition assessment information, appropriate and relevant goals can be created for each student. Goals are one of the most important aspects of the whole transition process because they can provide motivation and direction for students (Zhang & Benz, 2006). It is vital to have goals so that there is an overall direction and motivation for an individual to connect their high school education with their future life (Zhang & Benz, 2006). The goals deal with three main areas, these include: education, employment, and independent living (Prater, 2007; Kellems & Morningstar, 2010). The transition team writes the goals in observable and measurable terms for employment, education, and living (Mazzotti, Rowe & Kelley 2009). For example an employment goal would mention a specific occupation and time table for

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities when the individual will be employed (Mazzotti, Rowe & Kelley, 2009). The three aforementioned goal issues are also very interconnected with each other.


Student with transition services will start to incorporate a lot of real life education into a normal high school day; this might include working at a restaurant or store part time during the school day (Prater, 2007). Also the classes that. For example if Tommy has interests in carpentry and woodworking he should have classes that line up with these strengths and preferences. Students with disabilities oftentimes do desire to go college much like their general education peers; therefore they may choose to enroll Postsecondary dual enrollment programs that can utilizes support from the Local education Agency until the student is twenty-one (Grigal, Dwyre & Davis, 2006). The Challenges of the ³Real World´ Once the student graduates from high school there is a big world in front of them. One primary goal for a transition is for there to be a seamless transition into the world (Zigmond, 2006). Even once a student leaves the safe haven that is IDEA legislation at the age of twenty-one; there are still many resources at his or her disposal. Section 504 plans, unlike IEPS, do not have set age limits and they give a student rights in order to have access to resources that the general public also has access to (Savage, 2005). Also families continue to play a huge role as they essentially act as liaison between their child and the various agencies that are still helping the transition even well into the individual¶s future (Ankeny, Wilkins, Spain, 2009).

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities Conclusion Transition services provide a wide range of excellent practical resources to help students with disabilities prepare for their future after high school. There are many people at work in a single individual¶s transition plan involved throughout the whole process of the transition. Essentially they are all pointing towards the same goal: the goal of seeing a student with disabilities blossom into independent, well-rounded adult that is capable of learning, living, and working as independently as possible.


Transition Services for Students with Disabilities 10

References Ankeny, E.M., Wilkins, J., & Spain, J. (2009). Mothers¶ Experience of Transition Planning for Their Children With Disabilities. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41(6) 28-36. Goozner, M. (2004, January 1). Higher Skills, Fewer Jobs. The American Prospect. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from Grigal, M., Dwyre, A., & Davis, H. (2006). Transition Services for Students Aged 18-21 with Intellectual Disabilities in College and Community Settings: Models and Implications of Success. National Center on Secondary Education and Transition: Information Brief 5(5) 1-5. Kellems, R.O., & Morningstar, M.E. (2010). Tips for Transition. Teaching Exceptional Children, 43(2) 60-68. Mazzotti, V.L., Rowe, D.A., Kelley, K.R., Test, D.W., Fowler, C.H., Kohler, P.D., & Kortering, L.J. (2009). Linking Transition Assessment and Postsecondary Goals: Key Elements in the Secondary Transition Planning Process. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42(2) 44-51. Osgood, D.W., Foster, E.M., & Courtney, M.E. (2010). Vulnerable Populations and the Transition to Adulthood. The Future of Children, 20(1) 209-229. Prater, M.A. (2007). Teaching Strategies: for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

Transition Services for Students with Disabilities 11 Savage, R.C. (2005). The Great Leap Forward: Transitioning in the Adult World. Preventing School Failure, 49(4) 43-52. Zhang, D., & Benz, M.R. (2006). Enhancing Self-Determination of Culturally Diverse Students With Disabilities: Current Status and Future Directions. Focus On Exceptional Children, 38(9) 1-12. Zigmond, N. (2006)Twenty-Four Months After High School: Paths Taken by Youth Diagnosed With Severe Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 14(2) 99-107.

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