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Effective School-wide Programs in Education. Fox Chapel Area School District Rebecca Cunningham, FCAHS Assistant Principal Stacie Dojonovic , Transition Facilitator.

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effective school wide programs in education
Effective School-wide Programs in Education

Fox Chapel Area School District

Rebecca Cunningham, FCAHS Assistant Principal

Stacie Dojonovic, Transition Facilitator

Aligning Transition Services With Secondary Education Reform: A Position Statement of the Division on Career Development and Transition


  • Society has witnessed significant improvements in the lives of students receiving transition services over the past 30 years. The field of transition has developed an array of evidence-based interventions and promising practices; however, secondary school reform efforts have often overlooked these approaches for youth without disabilities. If we are to see improvements in postsecondary outcomes for all youth, reform efforts must begin with active participation of general and special educators and critical home, school, and community stakeholders. In this article, the authors discuss the evolution of transition in light of reform efforts in secondary education. They review and identify secondary educational initiatives that embrace transition principles. Finally, recommendations are provided for advancing alignment of transition services with secondary education reforms.
fcasd believes one system cradle to college and career
FCASD Believes One System: Cradle to College and Career

A two-way Interaction of General and Special Educators Throughout K-12

the issues we know
The Issues We Know
  • Achieving Academic Proficiency in the PA Common Core
  • Overcoming Social and Emotional Barriers to Learning
  • Self-Determination, Self-Advocacy and Student Engagement
  • Career Exploration, Career Assessment and Workplace Learning
  • Student Retention/ Drop Out Prevention
  • Graduation with a Diploma
  • Transition from HS to Post–Secondary and Employment
  • Success for All Students
fox chapel one example
Fox Chapel – One Example
  • Freshman Lessons delivered in homeroom to ALL students:

Goal Setting

Decision Making

Orientation to the High School



Test Taking Strategies

7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens

fox chapel 9 th grade focus
Fox Chapel 9th Grade Focus

Lessons and planning focus on students developing strategies to achieve:

  • Academic Success
  • Career Development Success
  • Personal/Social Success
fox chapel area school district goal of career portfolio
Fox Chapel Area School District Goal of Career Portfolio
  • Prepare students for the 21st century work place

self-led project

  • Provide the connection between school and career success
  • Systematically ensure ALL students select careers based on their interests, preferences and skills
  • Ensure that ALL students are supported with developing college and employment goals
fox chapel area school district graduation project
Fox Chapel Area School District Graduation Project

The Graduation Project requires the following:

  • Career Portfolio

- complete 15 post secondary planning activities

  • Service Learning
  • Reflection Paper based on career exploration is completed during a student’s senior year – SERVES AS STUDENT’S SELF-WRITTEN SUMMARY OF PERFORMANCE
  • Exit Interview


fox chapel area school district cross curricular career portfolio
Fox Chapel Area School District Cross Curricular Career Portfolio
  • Every staff is responsible for mentoring a group of students with developing their career portfolio for 720 days!
  • Students complete post secondary planning activities in English, Health, Physical Education, & Social Studies classes.
  • All staff are responsible for planning career speakers, job shadowing and mentoring experiences for students.
  • Although activities are included as part of students’ class curriculum they may choose to complete additional activities on their own.
fox chapel area school district career portfolio
Fox Chapel Area School District Career Portfolio
  • Students are required to complete a minimum of 4 post secondary planning activities each year in order to advance to the next grade.
  • Mentors report progress on student report cards
  • Career Portfolio Activities include the following:

- Career Awareness Activities

- Career Planning Activities

- Career Implementation Activities


fox chapel area school district career awareness
Fox Chapel Area School District Career Awareness
  • Career Inventory - Bridges (9th Grade - Health and Physical Education)
  • Career Research (9th Grade - English 9)
  • Career Research (10th Grade - Guidance)
  • Self- Assessment (10th Grade - Social Studies classes)
  • Transcript Awareness/Interpretation (9th Grade - Guidance)
  • A.W. Beattie Orientation (10th Grade - Social Studies or English classes)
  • Job Shadowing
  • Career Speaker
fox chapel area school district career planning
Fox Chapel Area School DistrictCareer Planning
  • Career Life Plan (9th Grade - QRT)
  • Career Life Plan (10th Grade - Guidance)
  • Career Interviews
  • Post Secondary Testing
  • Post Secondary Visits
  • Lesson on Interviewing Skills
fox chapel area school district career implementation
Fox Chapel Area School District Career Implementation
  • Work Experience
  • Job/College Application
  • Written Resume
  • Reference Letter
  • Activity Sheet
  • Community Service
fox chapel area school district career portfolio reflection
Fox Chapel Area School District Career Portfolio Reflection
  • After completing 15 post secondary planning activities and finalizing career portfolio students complete a 4-6 page career exploration reflection essay. (TRANSITION ASSESSMENT)
  • Students complete an exit interview with a panel in which they are required to discuss their career portfolio and the influence the activities had on their career decision making. (SUMMARY OF PERFORMANCE)
  • Provide feedback on the effectiveness of the career portfolio.


one system
One System?
  • Are we in these issues together...special ed and general ed?
  • Is there a lens that permits us to examine these issues and more?
envisioning a pipeline
“If people begin to see the educational system as a single entity through which people move, they may begin to behave as if all of education were related.”

Harold Hodgkinson in

“All One System’, 2000

Envisioning a Pipeline
what is the logic
What is the Logic ?
  • Regardless of the type of system a state or local community chooses, it is important to note that the goal is the same: to create a system of education that links and coordinates each education level into a seamless system fundamentally guided by the principle that success in college begins in pre-kindergarten.

Education Commission of the States

what keeps us from seeing the pipeline
Focus on our own immediate issues and needs

Fragmentation across levels and content areas

Divisions across general, special and technical education

Ineffective articulation between secondary, post–secondary and employment

Lack of relationships that undergird communication

Insufficient opportunities to learn about levels that precede and follow our own

Infrequent opportunities to track goal attainment throughout the entire pipeline

What Keeps Us from Seeing the Pipeline?
fox chapel s career preparation responsibility of all
Fox Chapel’s Career Preparation Responsibility of ALL
  • Fox Chapel Area High School Course Description Guide identifies career clusters and PA Career Standards through guidance department lessons
  • Cross-curricular career lessons
  • Transition planning meetings
  • Additional transition assessments/activities
  • College and Career Essentials - credit course (systematic career planning through a course)
questions in the pipeline think pair share
Questions in the PipelineThink/ Pair /Share

Y N Do you know how the elementary schools in your district are doing academically?

Y N Do you know what academic supports are available?

Y N Do you know how the elementary schools in your district are doing behaviorally?

Y N Do you know what behavioral supports and interventions are available?

Y N Can you describe the process for transitioning students from one grade to the next?

Y N Do you know the attendance rates for your elementary schools?

Y N Do you know how needed supports and interventions are communicated across grades?

Y N Do elementary and middle school teachers have the opportunity to talk about the data on student

performance and student needs?

Y N Is there a comprehensive transition process from elementary to middle school?

Y N Do you know how the middle schools in your district are doing academically (test data and class


Y N Do you know what academic interventions are available?

Y N Do you know the suspension data for your middle schools?

Y N Do you know what career education takes place in middle school?

Y N Do you know the attendance rates for your middle schools?

Y N Is there a comprehensive transition process from middle to high school?

Y N Can you describeyour school’s approach to support in the ninth grade?

Y N Do you have a picture of how many students are on track for accumulating graduation credit?

Y N Do you have a picture of the career education and career assessment takes place in the HS years?

Y N Do general education, special education and CTE teachers talk together about common goals and

common responsibilities?

Y N Do you know the drop out rate for your high school?

Y N Do you know how your graduates are doing in post-secondary?

Y N Do you know how your graduates are doing in employment?

How many ‘Yes’ responses did you have?

18-22 15-18 11-15 Less than 11

nationally the connections are startling
Nationally, the connections are startling…

8th graders who:

    • Fail English have only a 12% likelihood of graduating from HS
    • Fail math have a 13% likelihood of graduating
    • Have high rates of absenteeism have only a 13% chance of graduating
    • Have poor behavior have only a 20% chance of graduating*
  • What is the implication for students with and without disabilities:
    • For elementary
    • For middle school
    • For HS
    • For the system

*Balfanz ,et al ( 2007) in Breaking Ranks, A Field Guide to Leading Change, P. 7

National Association of Secondary School Principals( NASSP)

fox chapel school district freshman summer seminar
Fox Chapel School DistrictFreshman Summer Seminar
  • One week course in the summer between 8th and 9th grade year with a focus on executive functioning skills:

study skills, note taking skills, time management, use of agenda book, learning styles inventory, goal setting, organizational skills

‘Next Steps for High Schools and School Systems, in ‘Using the Right Data to Determine if HighSchool Interventions Are Working to Prepare Students for College and Careers’National High School Center, 2010
  • Treat the problem of poorly prepared ninth-graders as a P-12 problem, not just a high school problem (Dougherty & Rutherford, 2010).
  • Develop content and performance criteria in the elementary and middle school grades to identify the extent to which each student is on track to readiness for high school, college and careers.
  • Emphasize the importance of accelerating students onto the “ramp to college and career readiness” in elementary and middle school.

What is the impact for special education?

For transition?

do some current strategies work across the age and grade span
Do Some Current Strategies Work across the age and grade span?

We believe that are at least 2 coherent practice strategies that work across the pipeline:

  • Collaboration and Responsibility among ALL Staff
  • Working with Intention at Transition Points

…and integrating Transition under IDEA!

fox chapel s approach to improved student outcomes
Fox Chapel’s Approach to Improved Student Outcomes
  • A look at how all students are doing
  • A ‘tiering’ of all interventions
  • An expectation the faculty will have quality professional development on ‘what works’
  • An expectation that all faulty will use the framework to assess their success in meeting student needs
  • An expectation that faculty will use proven strategies in designing core instruction and interventions
  • A Focus on Career and College Development for ALL
our windows on cradle to college and career our task work with intention at every transition point
Our Windows on Cradle to College and CareerOur Task: Work with intention at every transition point!
what does it mean to be intentional at transitions
What Does It Mean to be ‘Intentional at Transitions’?
  • Major transitions are important; every major transition!
      • EC to School Age
      • Elementary to MS
      • MS to HS
      • HS to post-secondary and employment
  • Early academic, social and emotional skill development sets the stage.
  • Being intentional means planning for changes, thinking about adjustment, watching for early warning signs and crafting interventions.
  • Every year is a transition…but the ninth grade year is critical!
  • Focusing at transition points gives us a way to think about Transition under IDEA as a part of the whole system and to learn what might be helpful to other students.
fox chapel post secondary opportunities
Fox Chapel Post-Secondary Opportunities
  • AIU Apprenticeship Program
  • Monthly Career Speakers
  • Paid Work Experience
  • Un-Paid Professional Experience
  • Dual Enrollment
  • CCAC PAS Program
  • STEMM Academy
  • CMU Decision Makers Campus Mentoring Program
  • Opportunities Fair for ALL Students