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Navigating Rough Waters: Supporting Students with Disabilities in Transition

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Navigating Rough Waters: Supporting Students with Disabilities in Transition

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  1. Navigating Rough Waters: Supporting Students with Disabilities in Transition A presentation by the North Region SELPA Community Advisory Committee (CAC) and the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund )DREDF) Cheryl Theis, MA Education Advocate October 19th, 2009

  2. A Vision for the Future • Take a few minutes to envision your hopes and fears about your child transitioning out of school (or for students, for yourself!) • What words describe the outcomes you envision? • So what are the outcomes right now?

  3. Current Outcomes:Why are transition services required? KEEPING IT IN PERSPECTIVE: Studies show the “average” young person relies on parental support until age 26! Compared to their peers without disabilities, people with disabilities experience: • Half the graduation rate • Higher dropout rates (21% v. 10%) • Lower college entrance/completion • Lower employment (35% v. 78%) • Higher dependency on public assistance • Higher poverty rate (26% v. 9%) • Lower life satisfaction rate (34% v. 61%) • TRANSITION PLANNING, DONE RIGHT, SUPPORTS ACCESS AND INCLUSION, AND CREATES NEW POSSIBILITIES!

  4. The 2004 Congressional Finding: “Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by- (A) having high expectations for such children and ensuring their access to the general education curriculum in the regular classroom, to the maximum extent possible, in order to – (i) meet developmental goals and, to the extent possible, the challenging expectations that have been established for all children; and (ii) be prepared to lead productive and independent lives to the maximum extent possible (20 U.S.C. Sec. 1401 (c)(5) 6

  5. Transition Assessment Transition Planning & IEP Interagency & Community Services Family Involvement Student Involvement Inclusion, Access & Accountability Curriculum & Instruction Critical Elements of Transition Transition to Adulthood

  6. Transition – What is goal of IDEA? Goal of IDEA is to promote maximum independence in adulthood Goal of transition plan is to promote maximum transition plan in adulthood Transition plan must address child’s interests, aptitudes, plans regarding education, career, housing and community involvement 8

  7. Education or Training • Employment • Independent Living Age Appropriate Transition Assessments Transition Planning is a Process! Step 1: Measurable Postsecondary Goals Step 3: Needed Transition Services Step 4: Annual IEP Goals Step 2: Present Levels of Academic Performance • a. Course of Study • b. Needed Services: • Instruction • Related Services • Community Experiences • Employment and other post-school adult living objectives • Daily Living skills & Functional Vocational Assessment (when appropriate) Step 5: Summary of Performance

  8. What are transition services? Definition of transition services in the IDEA: …acoordinated set of activities… designed to 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… The data just presented indicates a need for improved “results.”

  9. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act has required transition language in the IEP since 1990 with the following: • An expectation of coordinated services • Transition planning based on the student's interest and preferences • Including instruction, related services, community experiences, development of employment, or other post-school adult living objectives, and when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and a functional evaluation • Transition services • Transferring rights at the age of majority

  10. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Actof 2004 requires: Transition language in the IEP at age 16 AT THE LATEST! Services can begin as early as IEP team determines necessary. • Measurable postsecondary goals • Based on age-appropriate assessments related to: training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills • Providing a Summary of Performance upon school exit

  11. What are Postsecondary Goals? The IDEA ‘04 requires: appropriate, measurable postsecondary goals based on age-appropriate assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills Postsecondary goals are what the student plans to do upon school exit

  12. What are Postsecondary Goals? The IDEA indicates the need for: … measurable post-secondary goals … related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills What is the difference between training and education?

  13. What are Postsecondary Goals? • Training = a program leading to high school completion or certificate like adult education or a short-term training program like a vocational program. • Education = community or technical colleges (generally two-year programs) or college or university (generally four-year programs)

  14. “Without goals, a transition plan becomes a transition to nowhere.” • IEP inadequate where not based on transition evaluation, contains inadequate transition services, lacks goals. • ITP is a FLEXIBLE roadmap to a destination that matters!

  15. What are Age-Appropriate Transition Assessments? • What is age-appropriate? Age-appropriate means chronological rather than development age • What is the purpose of transition assessments? To provide the team with meaningful information to make appropriate decisions. Insufficient information is a major obstacle to collaboration and planning!

  16. What are Age-Appropriate Transition Assessments? The IDEA ’04 requires: appropriate, measurable postsecondary goals based on age-appropriate assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills For some students, a FUNCTIONAL VOCATIONAL ASSESSMENT is necessary to drive appropriate services.

  17. Four-Step IEP Process • Identify student’s post-school goals • Determine present levels of performance • Develop annual goals to support post-school goals • Identify needed transition services

  18. Independent living Selecting a lifestyle and living arrangement Money management Health care Mobility (travel training, driver’s license) Independent living Nutrition Cooking/cleaning Community participation Accessing resources Connections established with adult service providers Age-Appropriate Transition AssessmentsOutcomes to Consider, where needed

  19. What are Annual IEP Goals that Support Postsecondary Goals? • Does the student know what his/her post-school goals are for education or training? • Does the student know what his/her post-school goals are for employment? If not, annual goals to support self awareness and career exploration might be appropriate. Annual goals for work or work-like experience (service learning, WorkAbility program, Regional Occupational Program) may also help the student make informed decisions.

  20. What are Annual IEP Goals that Support Postsecondary Goals? • Does the student know what their post-school options for independent living are? If not, annual goals to support daily living skills, exploration about housing options and community resources might be appropriate. • Does the student need connections to post-school adult service providers? If so, annual goals to establish those connections are appropriate.

  21. What are Annual IEP Goals that Support Postsecondary Goals? Annual goals that support postsecondary goals for: Instruction/training Employment Independent living Most sample annual goals show alignment with selected English/language arts content standards or CAPA levels

  22. What are Transition Services? IDEA ’04 requires transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those (postsecondary) goals

  23. What are Transition Services? A. Courses of study are: • A multi-year description of coursework (necessary) to achieve the student’s desired post-school goals. • For students working toward a general diploma, a transcript that lists courses taken/courses required may be appropriate. • For students working toward a certificate of achievement/completion, a listing of the academic and functional courses may be appropriate.

  24. What are Transition Services? A. Transition services may be: • Services the student needs to complete needed courses and succeed in the general curriculum • Services the student needs to accomplish the annual IEP goals that support the postsecondary goals, such as assistance gaining work experience or obtaining a social security number or driver’s license

  25. What is a Summary of Performance? The purpose of the summary is to provide the student with a document that will help establish eligibility for reasonable accommodations and supports in post-school settings. It is also useful for the Vocational Rehabilitation Comprehensive Assessment process. It is NOT an assessment in itself!

  26. What is a Summary of Performance? Part 1: Background information Part 2: Student’s postsecondary goals Part 3: Academic and functional performance Describes accommodations/modifications Part 4: Recommendations to assist goals Part 5: Student input (recommended) • Note: This is NOT an assessment. However, in most cases, to access DSP services in college, recent (No more than 3 years) assessment is required.

  27. Address Behavior if Needed in Transition Planning!

  28. Families provide critical relevant information! Participate in the process—listen, question, collaborate and challenge on high stakes issues Negotiate in good will—follow through on your end, ask what you can do to support teachers, staff. Remind team of who this youth IS and what they CAN do. What am I most worried about? Is there something I can recommend? If your child cannot participate in meeting, speak to their dreams and interests—bring them in in any way possible. Bring in concrete examples of strengths and challenges to help team understand. What Can Parents Do to Help?

  29. Supporting Self Determination and Advocacy What can you do to encourage self determination and advocacy? Help youth make doctor appointments Provide incremental independence opportunities Ensure youth understands his/her disability, and can explain it to others Make sure student understands LEGAL rights and responsibilities Encourage youth to USE accomodations. PROVIDE PRACTICE OPPORTUNITIES! Student Rights and Responsibilities. What are your child’s rights? What are your child’s responsibilities? Never hesitate to bring team back together if things aren’t working—do it sooner rather than later. ADVOCATE BEYOND YOUR OWN STUDENT! GET INVOLVED! PARTICIPATE IN LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES! What Can Parents Do to Help?

  30. The Family Participation Fund:$ to Encourage Engagement!GET PAID TO ATTEND CAC MEETINGS! • The Family Participation Fund provides assistance for family members to attend and participate in policy-making meetings. • TO QUALIFY FOR FUNDING, Families must: • Have a child with disabilities. • Attend local, regional or statewide meetings to provide their ideas to decision makers about education policy.These meetings include, but are not limited to, the following: • The Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC); • The Regional Coordinating Councils; • The State Special Education Advisory Committees; • Task forces/committees where families provide input on issues affecting the education of children with disabilities, to appropriate decision makers.

  31. Family Participation Fund Family members may: • One person per household per activity may apply for stipend and reimbursement. • $1,000.00 per person per year maximum. • Will not be receiving a stipend from the agency conducting the meeting • Total number of meetings reimbursable per month is two (2) meetings • Applications must be received within 30 days of the meeting that was attended. • NOTE: Trainings, Workshops, Lobbying and Conferences are NOT paid for under this program. • SEE HANDOUT!

  32. What about the Age of Majority? • One year before student will turn 18, parent and student need notice that this is coming. • What happens when students reach the age of majority (18 years old)? They are in the driver’s seat. • Ask team: How can we help student get ready for this? • Questions to consider: • Is your child able to make informed decisions? • Will your child live independently? • Who can help with conservatorship?

  33. New Rule on Parent Participation Student has a right to complete a Delegation of Authority or some other mechanism for allowing the parent to participate on behalf of the student even if parent is not taking conservatorship Even in this case, make every effort to involve and engage youth! **See sample in your packet 35 35

  34. What Agencies Support Transition? There are many! See checklist in Transition to Adult Living Guide in packet • Lists major federal/state agencies that support transition • Describes eligibility and services • State-level contact information is listed to obtain regional agency assistance.

  35. Department of Developmental Services (DDS/Regional Center) caseworker County Mental Health District Foster Youth Liaison (where applicable) Workability Staff/Job Coaching program Department of Rehabilitation Vocational Assessment professional Health Care Coordinators / Social Workers /Therapists Any other Agency or individuals that may be responsible for input or delivery of plan services. Interagency Collaboration is Essential—and Difficult!

  36. If student is eligible for support from other agencies, address: Steps for applying and determining eligibility Assistance with securing enrollment Plan for effective use Examples: Center for Independent Living, Department of Rehabilitation, Center for Assistive Technology, Social Security Admin, Adult Assisted Living Program… 38

  37. So what about the CAHSEE? • See DREDF Special Edition for September 2009. • State Exit Exam is not required for students with a 504 or IEP plan beginning this year • Not retroactive • Students must still attempt exam in 10th grade • Not an excuse for not providing services, supports, opportunities for students to meet all graduation requirements and state standards, but allows school boards to continue setting their requirements with some flexibility for students with disabilities

  38. Eligibility for accommodations on ACT/SAT, Graduate and Licensing Exams Requires documentation, e.g., evaluation and special education or 504 status No longer flagged on reports Evaluation agencies toughening criteria Must now link disability to history of adverse impact in relation to general population 40

  39. Burden on student/applicant to document disability In testing and education context, student must affirmatively request and document need for accommodation Same in employment context, but applicant must balance risks of disclosure in employment context with benefits 41

  40. Additional factors in determining eligibility for accommodation: Must be otherwise qualified Provides right to accommodations, but not remedial services Accommodations cannot be unduly burdensome or fundamentally alter nature of program 42

  41. Criteria for Eligibility for Accommodations Must have up-to-date evaluation (generally not more than 3 years old—senior year is ideal IEP or 504 plan insufficient—need ASSESSMENT REPORTS Special education/Section 504 eligibility helps – not legally essential, but functionally essential Evaluation must be by qualified professional Must show impairment in comparison to average population Must link need for accommodation to impairment 43

  42. When do services stop? Graduation with regular diploma. 22nd birthday in California 44

  43. The Buck Stops with the School If the Transition Plan involves other agencies and they fail to deliver, the school must reconvene the IEP to “identify alternative strategies to meet the transition objectives….20 USC 1414 (d)(6) 45

  44. Remember: • ACCOUNTABILITY IS KEY:IEP Team should never assign responsibility to a person or Agency not present to ACCEPT and UNDERSTAND what is needed! • ASK: What tools, modifications/accommodations, services, staff training and relationships will support Student in meeting this goal… • Cost cannot be a consideration—Appropriateness and identified need are the issue.

  45. Key Components of Success: Provide youth with maximum input into charting their own course without forfeiting adult support or safety nets available—the Training Wheels metaphor. School-Based Preparatory Experiences and environments to support skill acquisition, educational and vocational opportunities INDIVIDUALIZED to the student’s own goals. Career Preparation and Work-Based Learning Experiences while still in school …(could be an ESY service)

  46. FINAL REMARKS • Transition Planning should start early • Plan must be Person Centered • Plan must link activities, classes and learning at school to post secondary goals • Parents are critical partners in the process • Students should be increasingly in the driver’s seat from 16 on. • Interagency collaboration is key • JOIN THE CAC!