Best practices in transition getting from compliance to quality services
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Best Practices in Transition: Getting from Compliance to Quality Services. Dr. Mary E. Morningstar University of Kansas Department of Special Education. Think/Pair/Share.

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Best Practices in Transition: Getting from Compliance to Quality Services

Dr. Mary E. Morningstar

University of Kansas

Department of Special Education


Why do we need transition planning?

What do you need to do to ensure quality outcomes?














Access &





Critical Elements of Transition

Transition to




Transition was included in IDEA because the first special education students to exit high school were successful in achieving positive postschool adult outcomes such as living on their own, having a well-paying job, and attending postsecondary education in record numbers.

Correct answer is: FALSE.

Beginning in the mid-1980’s, the U.S. Department of Education recognized that the first group of students who had been all the way through special education were leaving school and unsuccessful in adult life. Unemployment, lack of enrollment in postsecondary education, continued dependence on parents, social isolation, and lack of involvement in community-based activities were found among young adults with disabilities.



Many curricula and programs do not support students with disabilities in developing essential adult-life skills.

Correct answer is TRUE

Post-school outcome research indicates that the current special education curriculum, instruction, and planning are not meeting students' needs. The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 has reported that while outcome for many youth with disabilities is improving, they often do not learn or use the skills in their school programs that they need to achieve productivity, empowerment, and independence.



Students with disabilities transitioning from school to adult life are not often supported by effective interagency collaboration.

Correct answer is TRUE

Limited levels of service coordination and collaboration among schools and community service agencies have created difficulties for students with disabilities in achieving positive post-school results (Johnson, et al., 2002). In many circumstances, students with disabilities leave school without appropriate community supports necessary to achieve successful adult outcomes. Many students remained at home with nothing to do because they were on long waiting lists for adult services.



Students with disabilities are more likely to remain in school and graduate from high school than their peers without disabilities.

Correct answer is FALSE

Dropping out of school is one of the most serious problems facing special education programs across the country. Almost 1/4 of all youth with disabilities exit the school system by dropping out. Youth with ED have the highest drop out rates (from 21% to 64% - twice the rate of nondisabled students). The drop out rate for students with learning disabilities averages 25% (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). Reasons include: lack of credits to graduate, no parental support for education, inappropriate social interactions. Dropouts have fewer options for employment and usually end up in entry level, low-paying positions.



  • Planning early

  • Person-centered Approach to Planning

  • Outcomes tied to Vision for future

  • IEP focuses on outcomes

  • Service coordination

  • Postschool outcomes data

  • Documentation in the IEP

Critical Element of Transition: Planning Differently

Transition to


Person-Centered Planning Resources

Features of Person-Centered Planning

  • Focus on and driven by the student’s strengths, interests and preferences

  • Focus on capabilities and opportunities – developing a vision for the future

  • Process is flexible, dynamic and informal

  • Requires collaborative team work with commitment to action

  • Requires an effective facilitator

    K.B. Flannery, R. Slovic, &D. McLean (1994)


  • What is the individual’s history?

  • Who is the individual?

  • What are the dreams?

  • What are the nightmares?

  • What are the needs?

  • What are the individual strengths?

  • What would an ideal school day look like?


  • Identify the “North Star”

  • Identify the GOAL

  • Look at life NOW & identify differences between NOW and GOAL

  • Identify steps to move person from NOW to GOAL

  • Identify FIRST STEP


  • Create a personal profile

    • Person’s background and history

    • Relationships

    • Places

    • Choices

    • Preferences

    • Focus on the future

  • Review Trends in Environment

  • Find desirable images of the future

  • Identify obstacles and opportunities

  • Identify strategies

  • Getting started (Action Planning)

  • Identify the need for systems change

  • Create a network/Circle of Friends


  • Non-negotables

  • Strong preferences (Needs)

  • Highly desirables (Wants/enjoy)

  • Person’s positive reputation

  • Things we need to do to help person stay healthy

  • Things we need to do to be successful in supporting the person

  • Unresolved Issues/Questions

  • How the person communicates with us

Build a Personal Profile

  • Interview the student, family and others in their life in a relaxed atmosphere

    • Break down the “big question” of “What job do you want?” to smaller ones:

      • What do you like about school and classes?

      • What do you like to do after school?

  • Spend time with the individual

  • Interview significant others

  • Hold a planning meeting using a person-centered approach

    Hagner & Dileo (1993)

  • The Personal Preference Indicators: A Guide for Planning

    Moss (2006). Center for Interdisciplinary Learning and Leadership/UCE, College of Medicine, University of

    Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

    Adapting the MAPS Questions for Transition

    MAPS Questions

    • What is individual's history?

    • Who is the individual?

    • What are the dreams?

    • What are the nightmares?

    • What are individuals needs?

    • What are the individual's strengths?

    • What would an ideal school day look like?


    • Who is individual?

    • What is individual's history?

    • What is the vision for his/her adult life?

    • What are some things individual doesn't want in his/her future

    • What are individual's greatest strengths and contributions for community involvement?

    • What does individual need to be successful in his/her career?

    • What would an ideal day look like?

    Using MAPS to plan for Transition:

    Angie’s MAP

    Postsecondary Education & Training

    Community Participation


    Community Living

    From PCP to Postsecondary Goals

    • needs experiences with lots of different places

    • Expand her social life

    • Transportation is problem

    • going to movies, fishing, camping, horseback riding

    From: Furney, et al., (nd) Making Dreams Happen: How to Facilitate the MAPS Process. University of Vermont

    • go on to college

    • likes to help people

    • retail experience

    • wants to work & save money

    • Likes animals – possible job

    • Eager to please; friendly

    • needs experiences with lots of different places

    • Expand her social life

    • Work on safety when alone (e.g., tipping out of wheelchair)

    • independent living skills

    Angie’s Transition IEP

    • Measurable postsecondary goal: Upon completion of high school, Angie will work 20 hours a week in an occupation that focuses on retail sales.

    • Transition Services:

      • Instruction: Angie will participate in a careers class focused on job training in retail sales

      • Community Experiences: Angie will complete referral for VR

      • Employment: Angie will job shadow at 3 different retail settings

      • Adult living and Daily living: Angie will participate in bus travel training; Angie will get herself up in the mornings and get ready for school.

    • IEP goals:

    Planning for the Future

    • Family members attend meetings

    • Flexible to meet with families

    • Transition = family as a whole

    • Involved in decisions

    • Agreement on outcomes

    • Information

    • Person-centered planning



    Critical Element of Transition: involving Families

    Transition to


    Working with Families

    TA Alliance for Parent Centers

    Knowing Families: Family Systems Framework

    • Family members attend meetings

    • Transition = family as a whole

    • Involved in decisions

    • Flexible to meet with families

    • Agreement on outcomes

    • Information

    • Person-centered planning



    Critical Elements of Transition

    • Family Characteristics

    • Description of the family

    • Personal characteristics

    • Special challenges

    • Family Life Cycle

    • Stages and Transitions

    • Changes in

    • Characteristics

    • Changes in Functions

    • Changes in Life Roles

    Family Interaction






    Transition to




    Family Functions

    Affection, Self-esteem, Economics, Daily care, Socialization, Recreation, Education, Spiritual Working with Families online module

    • Share information and resources

    • Use multiple formats & ways to provide information

    • Ensure reciprocity

    • Informal and frequent communication

    • Arrange linkages with other families and available supports

    • Coming Together for the IEP

    • Prepare in advance

    • Connecting and getting started

    • Sharing visions and transition outcomes

    • Reviewing levels of performance & assessments

    • Sharing resources, priorities, concerns

    • Developing goals and objectives

    • Specifying placement and related services

    • Summarizing and concluding

    • Types of adult services

    • Role models

    • Basic facts about transition

    • Areas most wanted by families in one study:

      • sexuality

      • self-care

      • getting along with others

      • taking responsibility

    • Guardianship and estate planning

    • Role of IEP team members

    • Criteria for evaluating IEP

    • Postschool option

    • Social security

    • Listen empathetically

    • Share information

    • Communicate family meaning

    • Focus on family identified issues

    • Reliably respond

    • Meet in friendly places

    • Tell personal stories

    Michael Bridges’ Transition Cycle Theory

    Building Relationships with Families

    • Identify transition cycle of the family

    • Learn to LISTEN

    • INVITE Involvement

    • Pay attention to family concerns & postschool outcomes

    • Exchange information

    • Parent involvement activities

    Critical Element of Transition:

    Supported Self-Determination!

    • Decision-making skills and opportunities

    • Invited to attend meetings

    • Ideas listened to and respected

    • Opportunities to learn about options

    • Self-advocate

    • Self-Directed IEPs

    • Parent info. to support students



    Transition to


    The Self-Determination Center

    Self-Determination Synthesis Project

    If a student floated in a lifejacket for 12 years, would he/she be expected to swim if the jacket were jerked off?

    The Research Says…….

    • Engagement

    • Postschool Outcomes

    • Participation in IEP development

    • Quality of Life

    • Networks

    • Skills (social skills, problem-solving, choice-making, self-advocacy)

    Students who are self-determined exhibit behaviors/skills that impact these areas:

    IDEA Requirements Impacting Student Involvement in Transition

    • Invite student to meeting

      • For the IEP to be in place when the student turns 16

      • Student participation and leadership on the IEP team is exemplary practice

    • Transition Assessments

      • to identify student interests, needs, preferences, strengths

    • Creating Postsecondary Goals

      • generated from results of transition assessment

      • written in first person (I will… OR Tonya will…)

    • Academic instruction tied to outcomes

    • Inclusive Educational Experiences

    • Vocational instruction & experiences

    • Independent living skills

    • Social, interpersonal & recreation

    • Functional curriculum reflects outcomes

    • Natural & age-appropriate

    • Transition Programs Post-HS for ALL students

    Critical Elements of Transition: Evidence-Based Practices

    National 18-21 Database: Tools & Resources

    Transition & Instructional Strategies

    Transition to


    Evidence-based Practices in Transition (National Secondary Transition TA Center NSTTAC)

    What Works Transition Synthesis Research Project





    Inclusive Education Leads to Better Outcomes

    • Improved IEP Quality

      • Age-appropriateness

      • Functionality

      • Generalization

    • Improved Instruction in General Education

      • Increased instruction in functional skills, basic academic skills, literacy, etc.

      • More engaged in learning and less isolation than in separate classes

      • Involvement and support from peers w/o disabilities

      • Individualized instruction in general ed classes

    • Better outcomes

      • In school and postschool (fewer absences & referrals, higher social interactions & communication skills, better postschool outcomes)

    What Works in Transition Synthesis Study

    • Teaching Functional Life Skills

      • Money and purchasing

      • Other community-based instruction

      • Self-protection

      • Leisure skills

      • Domestic or home-keeping

      • Personal self care

    Basic Math

    Basic Reading

    Problem Solving



    Computer Knowledge

    Skills Everyone Needs in the 21st Century: College & Career Ready

    • ‘Employability Skills’

      • Dependability

      • Getting along with others

      • Appropriate dress and grooming

      • Initiative

      • Asking for help

      • Positive Attitude

        Murnane and Levy (1996). Teaching the new basic skills. Harvard University; The Free Press.

    From: Maryland Coalition on Inclusive Education(August 2009). Redefining What is Functional in High School. MCIE High School Inclusion and Transition Planning Institute

    • Enroll in instructional program to meet needs

    • Social inclusion

    • Gen. Ed & Voc. Ed. get support

    • Inclusion leads to positive outcomes

    • Decision-making process used

    • Accommodations on IEP & State and District Tests


    Access &


    Critical Elements of Transition:Assess for Quality

    Transition & Instructional Strategies

    Transition to


    Embedding‘New Basic Skills’…

    Adapted From: Maryland Coalition on Inclusive Education(August 2009). Redefining What is Functional in High School. MCIE High School Inclusion and Transition Planning Institute

    Critical Element of Transition:

    School and Community Connections!!

    Peer Tutoring & Peer

    Mediated Instruction

    Peer Supports

    Natural Supports in the


    Facilitating Friendships

    and Social Interactions

    • School-business partnerships

    • Process for identifying needs

    • Formal & informal supports

    • Accurate information

    • Interagency agreements

    • Local councils

    • Collecting Postschool Outcomes





    Critical Elements of Transition: Assess for Quality

    Transition to


    Community Resource Mapping:

    Interagency and Community Services:

    Who should participate in transition planning?

    • Peers and friends

    • Administrators

    • Postsecondary Ed. staff

    • Community Service Providers

    • Family Members

    • Student

    • Education personnel

    • School support staff

    • Community members

    Quality Indicators of Effective Transition Programs Needs




    Planning &








    Transition to





    Access &





    This tool allows individuals, schools, districts, regions and states to complete a self-assessment program regarding seven research-based indicators of effective transition practices:

    • Transition planning

    • Student involvement

    • Family involvement

    • Interagency collaboration

    • Curriculum and instruction

    • Inclusion in school and access to the general curriculum

    • Transition assessment

      The resulting data is used to identify critical needs and priorities for on-site and online professional development

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