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Optimizing the General Education/Special Education Connection for Student Skills Development in a Standards-Based World Diane S. Bassett, Ph.D. NSTTAC Secondary Transition State Planning Institute May 3, 2007 [email protected] Summary of Major Changes from IDEA 1997 to IDEA 2004 .

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Optimizing the General Education/Special Education Connection for Student Skills Development in a Standards-Based World Diane S. Bassett, Ph.D.NSTTAC Secondary Transition State Planning Institute May 3, [email protected]

summary of major changes from idea 1997 to idea 2004
Summary of Major Changes from IDEA 1997 to IDEA 2004
  • Transition services moved from 14 t 16
  • Shift in emphasis to “Results”
  • Emphasis on progress in the gen. ed. curriculum
  • An exception to the requirement to evaluate before changing a student’s status (SOP)
  • Revision of “Statement of Interagency Responsibilities” in IEP
idea 2004
IDEA 2004

Transition is designedto be within a results-

oriented process, that is focused on improving

the academic and functional achievement of the

child with a disability to facilitate the child’s

movement from school to post-school

activities…to prepare [them] for further

education, employment, and independent


principles for transition vs sbe system
Includes a range of domains including academic

Provides coordinated activities

Emphasizes individualized planning process/ self-determination

Ensures procedural safeguards

Offers community-based learning

Provides common content standards for all

Emphasizes academic & basic literacy outcomes

Student performance can be measured with standardized measures

Learning standards will unify understanding of what students should know and do

Principles for Transition vs. SBE System
idea 2004 and nclb
IDEA 2004 and NCLB
  • NCLB and IDEA 2004 align to reaffirm that all students should meet high academic standards
  • All students should be at proficient or advanced levels by 2013-14 school year
  • These high expectations are at odds with basic tenet of Rowley
hendrick hudson s d vs rowley 1982
Hendrick Hudson S.D. vs. Rowley (1982)
  • Rowley provides for a “basic floor of educational opportunity” to students with disabilities
  • Does not provide for an optimal education where students can realize their potential
  • Is a “mimimal” education an “adequate” education?
  • “Cadillac vs. Chevrolet” argument
states courts are now arguing that minimal is not adequate
States courts are now arguing that minimal is not adequate:
  • “...prepare students for useful and happy occupations….” (West Virginia)
  • “…sufficient levels of academic or vocational live up to his or her full human potential…” (Alabama)
  • “…to pursue life work intelligently…(Kentucky)
  • “…to prepare citizens for their role as participants and as potential competitors in today’s marketplace of ideas…” (New Hampshire)

(Johnson, 2003)

luke p vs thompson school district colorado
Luke P. vs. Thompson School District – Colorado
  • “…all education has as its purpose the advancement of knowledge and skills so that the student can reasonably apply them in other contexts…public schools must accord some educational benefit…must address issues of generalization…” (2005, Due Process Decision)
k l and mercer island school district district ct decision 12 8 2006
K.L and Mercer Island School District (District Ct. Decision 12/8/2006)
  • “…[IDEA ’97} clearly states its commitment to “our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities…”
  • “…IDEA “97 is simply not about ‘Access:’ it is focused on “transition services….an outcome-oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities…”
  • “…to be prepared to lead productive, independent adult lives to the maximum extent possible…”
  • A minimal education is no longer an adequate education
  • All students are expected to achieve proficiency on content area standards
  • Public schools may be expected to provide education that can generalize to other settings
  • Public schools may be expected to ensure student learning can be used in the future to provide economic self-sufficiency

High School Reform: A Contradiction in Terms?

  • Contextual factors (school climate, philosophy, personnel allocation, accountability systems) difficult to change (Noguera, 2004)
  • Organizational structures of schools (block scheduling, advisories, Small Learning Communities) not effective (Noguera, 2004)
  • School curriculum offers a broad but disconnected range of courses (Hill and Celio, 1998)
  • Teachers use a lecture format without looking for mastery of knowledge and skills (Cohen, 2001)
  • Pervasive student alienation and boredom, anti-intellectualism peer cultures undermine achievement (Steinberg, 1996)
  • High schools considered obsolete (Bill Gates, High School Summit, April 2005)

(Adapted from Noguera, 2004)

obstacles to secondary special education program effectiveness
Obstacles to Secondary Special Education Program Effectiveness
  • Program Coherence
    • Lack of curriculum, wide variation of instruction
    • Gen. ed. curriculum not responsive to student needs
    • Need for more adaptations and modifications
    • Increase opportunities for vocational education
    • Lack of time and coordination for transition planning

(Wasburn-Moses, 2006)


Obstacles to Secondary Special Education Program Effectiveness cont.

  • Lack of Options for Students
    • Limited course choices especially for basic skill instruction
    • Limited opportunities for vocational education
    • Limited opportunities for transition planning
    • Limited accommodations and modifications

(Wasburn-Moses, 2006)

secondary school reform should
Secondary School Reform should
  • Provide comprehensive and flexible programs that integrate academic development, social-psychological development, career development, preparation for life roles.

( Bassett and Kochhar-Bryant, 2006; Jorgensen, 1998; Patton and Trainor, 2002)

effective transition focused standards based education includes
Effective transition-focused, standards-based education includes:
  • Continuous, systematic planning, coordination, and decision making to define and achieve postsecondary goals
  • Curriculum pathways or options
  • Academic, career-technical, and community-based learning
  • Multiple outcome domains and measures
  • Appropriate aids and supports

More students with disabilities participate in general education classes

  • In 2001-2002, 7 of 10 secondary students with disabilities were taking at least one academic course
  • More students taking science and foreign language courses
  • 30% of students with disabilities were enrolled in NO special education courses

(NLTS2, 2003; 2004)

  • Vocational course taking declined by 7%
  • Students with mild/moderate disabilities taking more academic courses
  • Life skill/study skill courses offered in special ed. classes
  • An increase in self-contained special education courses

Is Transition Obsolete?

  • General education students “graduate,” special education students “transition”
  • “Special” professionals are the only ones who can support students with disabilities in school through the transition process
  • Many high school students with exceptionalities are not included in typical school experiences

(Tashie &Jorgensen, 1999)

transition as a unifying framework
Transition as a Unifying Framework

“Transition is not just a program or a project or a set of activities that has a beginning and an end. Rather, it is a vision and a goal for unfolding the fullest potential of each individual and it represents a systematic framework for planning to fulfill that potential.”

(Kochhar-Bryant and Bassett, 2002)

transition is the
Transition is the….
  • Foundation for a coordinated set of academic experiences
  • Foundation for community-based experiences
  • Foundation for social intelligence
  • Foundation for self-advocacy
  • It is the foundation for Secondary Education
use transition focused competencies
Use Transition-focused competencies
  • To add relevance to academics
  • To blend community-based activities
  • To enhance self-determination

So How do We Maximize Our Teaching?

  • Begin with the end in mind
  • Think: What is the purpose of what I am teaching?
  • Think: How do I connect the concepts with standards?
  • Use concepts of contextual, authentic learning
authentic learning experiences
Authentic Learning Experiences
  • The relevance of student learning has an immediate or personal value to the student.
  • The learning has an eventual value beyond school

Hanley-Maxwell et al., 1999

three levels of competence
Three Levels of Competence
  • Knowledge (facts, concepts)
  • Skills (performance)
  • Intelligentapplication of knowledge & skills (practical and social intelligence)
contextual skills
Contextual Skills

Specific competencies

(i.e., knowledge, skills, application of)

of local and cultural relevance

needed to perform everyday activities

in a variety of settings

typically encountered by most individuals.


Students need to know why they are learning what they are learning

  • Be explicit
  • Be metacognitive
  • Link to the real world
  • Design authentic evaluation
  • Seek generalization to other environments
  • Ask “So What?” questions

We have two (2) options

(1) reactive

-- identify needs

late in game

(2) proactive

-- start early

-- “transition education”

approaches to covering transition related content
Approaches to Covering Transition-Related Content
  • course development
  • integration into existing content (infusion)

Source: Patton, Cronin, & Wood (2007)

spontaneous v planned
“Spontaneous v. Planned”
  • Spontaneous-- it just happens!
  • Planned-- you can see it coming!
infusion process
Infusion Process
  • Become familiar with some adult outcomes frame of reference.
  • Be familiar with the curricular material.
  • Have access to some good resources.
  • Identify “infusion points.”
  • Plan “infusion bursts” (i.e., activities)
  • Do it.

So What?

So who else might use this ________?

So what kinds of job, activities, etc. might

use this ________?

So whenmight you use this _________?

So where might you use this _________?

So how could you use this __________ in a

job, with your friends, etc.?

So why is this important?


Transition and Contextual Learning: The Dynamic Duo

  • Transition domains reflect the relevancy of movement to adulthood
  • Transition is a process, not a product
  • Transition is measured by successful adult outcomes
  • Applied academics reflect the relevancy of what is to be learned
  • Applied academics emphasize process over product
  • Applied academics can be measured in many ways
what to do
What to do?

Use integrated, relevant unit plans that reflect standards and transition-focused competencies.


Blending standards, contextual learning, and a transition focus:

  • Standards reflect a thinking curriculum
  • Applied academics naturally support higher order thinking skills in order to reach standards
  • A transition focus begins with the end in mind (e.g., postschool outcomes and skills)
  • Making standards relevant will enhance student learning and engagement

One Curricular Option: Link to the Standards!

Use the content standards to support and guide what you are teaching

we have two options for blending curriculum and standards

We have two options for blending curriculum and standards

Option One: A Curriculum-Based Approach


Option #1: Applying Standards to Ideas

  • Choose the topic or curricular material
  • List ideas and activities using life skills
  • Link the ideas to the curriculum
  • Plan what you will do
  • Plan what students will do
  • Identify the standards to be addressed
  • Build in evaluation and links to workplace competencies

Applying Standards to Ideas

Curricular Reference: (Social Studies material) Grade Level: Middle grades

©Patton and Bassett, 2004

option two

Option Two:

A Standards-Based Approach


Option #2: Applying Ideas to the Standard!

  • Select the standard(s) you wish to use
  • Using a life skills approach, list ideas to address the standard
  • Be conscious of how the activity links to the curricular reference
  • Plan what you will do
  • Plan what students will do
  • Build in evaluation and links to workplace competencies

Applying Ideas to the Standard

Standard Reference: 3.3 (Life Science) Grade Level: Middle Grades

Benchmark: Comparing and contrasting characteristics of treatments of various types of medical problems

© Patton and Bassett, 2004


Blending Curricula and Standards with a Transition Focus(Assumption: Student has IEP needs identified; student has access to general education)

  • Curriculum-based Approach
  • Start with targeted curriculum
  • Identify functional topics
  • Select/align with content standard
  • Evaluate
  • Standards-based Approach
  • Start with content standard
  • Identify unit or lesson plan
  • Identify functional topics
  • Evaluate
optimizing the general ed special ed connection
Optimizing the General Ed./Special Ed. Connection….
  • …..will occur in those schools that have transition-focused teachers working as equal partners with general educators, supported by strong administrative leaders
roles for special educators
Roles for Special Educators
  • Optimal: Co-Teaching with general educator
    • General educator supplies content, standards
    • Special educator supplies relevance, UDL, standards
  • Resource setting: educator adds relevance, UDL, standards
  • Self-Contained: Teach integrated units of study
  • Community-based: infuse standards into unit planning and activities
  • For all settings, provide formative and summative evals that reflect academic and career standards
to achieve this connection the ideal transition focused special educator
To achieve this connection, the ideal transition-focused special educator:
  • Is a building-based special educator, NOT a transition coordinator
  • Has a strong academic background (highly qualified in at least one content area)
  • Has a strong vocational background’
  • Has a strong background in strategic instruction
  • Has a strong behavioral background
  • Has worked in another field besides education
  • Walks on water
how do we cultivate these individuals
How do we cultivate these individuals?
  • Transition and sped. secondary services are required in higher education curricula
  • Ongoing, strategic professional development required in schools
  • More time for collaborative, integrative planning in schools
  • Curriculum mapping with transition-focused competencies
  • More opportunities for students to learn outside the classroom
  • More opportunities for students to have a say in educational decisions