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Evidence-based Practices That Build And Foster Student Competence For Success In Postsecondary Education. Dr. Margo Izzo, Ohio State University Dr. Stan Shaw, University of Connecticut Presentation at the State Transition Planning Institute

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Evidence-based Practices That Build And Foster Student Competence For Success In Postsecondary Education

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Evidence-based Practices That Build And Foster Student Competence For Success In Postsecondary Education

Dr. Margo Izzo, Ohio State University

Dr. Stan Shaw, University of Connecticut

Presentation at the State Transition Planning Institute

Charlotte, NC

May, 2008

where are we going
Where are We Going?

Session Goals:

  • Review Postsecondary Enrollment and Retention Trends
  • Discuss Evidence-Based Practices
  • Discuss Best Practices Implemented by Quality Secondary & College Programs
  • Conclusions
postsecondary education the good news
Postsecondary Education: The Good News
  • College students with disabilities increased from 2.6% in 1978 to 9.2% in 1998
  • The National Council on Disability (2004) states that “higher education is key to the economic prospects and independence of youth with disabilities.” (p. 68)
postsecondary education the good news4

Postsecondary Education: The Good News

Students with disabilities who graduate from college exhibit similar employment rates and annual salaries compared to their counterparts without disabilities (Madaus, 2006; National Center for Education Statistics 2000)

the good news between 55 70 of swd anticipate going to college
The Good News: Between 55 - 70% ofSwD Anticipate Going to College
  • Full-time work (52.4%)
  • Part-time work (30.1%)
  • Two-year college (30.7%)
  • Four-year college (25.9%)
  • Technical school (15.3%)
  • Military (6.0%)
  • Vocational rehabilitation services (15%)
  • Other training (7.9%)

Source: The Ohio Longitudinal Transition Study: A Preliminary Analysis (2004)

postsecondary education the not so good news
Postsecondary Education: The NotSo Good News

In spite of the more than 50% of students who want to go to college, NLTS2 reported that one year following graduation only

  • 30% of students had taken college classes
  • 18% of students were currently enrolled (compared to 40% of their non-disabled peers)

Table 1: Postsecondary School Attendance(N = 12,000)

Source: NLTS2 (2004)

postsecondary education the not so good news8
Postsecondary Education: The NotSo Good News
  • In spite of these increasing numbers, too many students with disabilities are experiencing limited success and exiting college without completing their programs.
  • Only 25% of students with disabilities received an associate degree after five years at a community college.

(Burgstahler, Crawford, & Acosta (2001)

why are students dropping out of college
Why Are Students Dropping Out of College?
  • Lack of self-advocacy skills?
  • Lack of time management/organization skills?
  • Lack of learning and study strategies?
  • Student was provided too many accommodations or supports in high school by teachers or parents?
strategies to avoid regarding transition to college

Strategies To AvoidRegarding Transition to College

Get a diagnostic evaluation that recommends as many

accommodations and waivers as possible.

Use as many modifications, accommodations, waivers, and

content tutoring as you can get in order to achieve seemingly

competitive grades.

Parents should provide whatever advocacy (pressure) it takes to

help student “look like” college material.

The “best” college is the one with the “most” support


Parents should make all the calls and send in applications or

documentation because student with a disability is busy,

disorganized, or forgetful.

need for self determination

Need for Self-Determination

IDEA 2004 encourages student involvement in

transition planning and acknowledges student

control at age of majority

• Profoundly different expectations between

HS and college

Student must assume role of independent

self-advocate to receive assistance in


“Increasingly and justifiably, youth with

disabilities are viewed as capable of

conceiving and shaping their own futures.”

- NLTS2 (2003)

self determination makes a difference

Self-Determination Makes a Difference

Highly self-determined young adults with disabilities demonstrated more employment success and financial independence (Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997)

Positive correlation between high self-determination and high GPA in college students with LD (Field, Sarver & Shaw, 2003; Sarver, 2000)

characteristics of self determined individuals

Characteristics of Self-Determined Individuals


Internal locus of control

Positive attribution of efficacy and outcome expectancy


Goal setting and attainment



When we hear the word self-determination, the

terms “control,” “goals,” “choice,” and “self-

confidence” should come to mind.

evidence based practices self advocacy strategy
Evidence-Based Practices:Self-Advocacy Strategy
  • Motivation and Self-Determination Strategy designed to prepare students to participate in education and transition conferences.

Indicator 13 Checklist:

  • #1: Student participation in identification of postsecondary goals
  • #5: Student involvement in identification of strengths, needs, and preferences within the transition assessment process.
self determined h s students
Self-Determined H.S. Students:
  • Understand and can describe their disability
  • Know how to learn and compensate for weaknesses
  • Are good self-advocates
  • Know when and how to properly disclose their disability and request accommodations
  • Function without direct parental involvement
  • Understand legal mandates under Section 504
  • Engage in planning postsecondary goals through involvement in the IEP Team Transition Process and developing Summary of Performance
practices designed to promote self determination
Practices designed to promote self-determination
  • Universal Design - universal design operates on the premise that the planning and delivery of instruction as well as the evaluation of student learning outcomes can incorporate inclusive attributes that anticipate diversity in learners without compromising academic standards. Such an environment will obviously foster student self-determination because options are available that allow the student to select personally productive approaches to learning (McGuire, Scott & Shaw, 2006)
practices designed to promote self determination17
Practices designed to promote self-determination
  • Strategic instruction - Providing students the tools they need to compete in college: time management, organization, memory skills language and communication skills, note-taking, outlining (Deshler & Schumaker, 2006)
practices designed to promote self determination18
Practices designed to promote self-determination
  • Coaching - not yet evidence-based strategy that is being used with some success with students labeled ADHD, Aspergers, & LD. Activities such as listening as a student verbalizes plans, encouraging a student to make choices, and asking questions that help students reflect on and learn from the self-determination process

(Parker, 2004)

helicopter parents
Helicopter Parents
  • “Helicopter parents” is clearly a pejorative term used to indicate the concerns of postsecondary personnel and the need to attend to this problem
  • Differences in the role of parents in HS & College (IDEA v 504)
  • A transition plan for parents - Parent advocacy to student self-sufficiency
understand how laws change after high school

Understand How Laws Change After High School

IDEA NOT IN EFFECT (i.e., no FAPE, no special education, no availability of diagnostic evaluations, no formal parent role, no “guarantee” of a seat or success)

504/ADA provides equal access (i.e., no discrimination) but only if you are “otherwise qualified,” self-identify, and provide acceptable documentation of a disability

disability documentation for postsecondary education

Disability Documentation for Postsecondary Education

Section 504 Requires Data to Answer the Following Questions:

• Does the student have a documented disability?

• Does the current disability substantially limit a major life function (e.g., learning)?

• What supports and accommodations are reasonable and appropriate based on the data?

idea 2004 evaluations
IDEA 2004 - Evaluations

Evaluations before change in eligibility

  • An evaluation is not required before the termination of a child’s eligibility under this part due to graduation from secondary school with a regular diploma, or due to exceeding the age eligibility for FAPE under State law (§ 300.305(e)(2)).
the evaluation dilemma
The Evaluation Dilemma
  • IEP or 504 Plan insufficient to meet documentation requirements
  • Secondary schools moving to more functional data (Response to Intervention, Curriculum-Based Assessment, Functional Behavior Assessment)
  • Postsecondary schools require documentation of a current disability & need for academic adjustment.
  • Postsecondary personnel have typically used recent psycho-educational evaluations to determine eligibility
requesting formal evaluations
Requesting Formal Evaluations

Although formal evaluations are no longer required, IEP Teams and/or parents can still request evaluations or re-evaluations in order to:

1) to determine whether the student continues to be a student with a disability

2) to determine if the student’s educational needs still require special education and related services;

3) to determine the present levels of academic achievement and related developmental needs of the student;

4) to determine whether any additions or modifications to special education and related services are needed to enable the student to meet

the measurable annual goals set out in the IEP and to participate, as appropriate, in the general education curriculum.

idea of 2004 requires transition assessments
IDEA of 2004: Requires Transition Assessments

“Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16… the IEP must include:

  • Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment….”
idea 2004 summary of performance
IDEA 2004Summary of Performance
  • For a child whose eligibility terminates under circumstances described in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, a public agency must provide the child with a summary of the child’s academic achievement and functional performance, which shall include recommendations on how to assist the child in meeting the child’s postsecondary goals

(§ 300.305(e)(3)).

what does the summary of performance offer
What Does the Summary of Performance Offer

A tool to bridge the gap between standardized assessments and actual current performance

  • Informal assessment data
  • Data on actual skills and behaviors
  • Problem solving skills
  • Self-advocacy skills
  • Accommodations based on classroom performance, rather than standardized test data
  • Accommodations that are actually used
assumptions about sop
Assumptions about SOP
  • Does not require new testing
  • Data exists in student’s file and from current teachers
  • Based on student’s postsecondary goals
  • Narrative of strengths and needs should distill data into understandable and useable terms
    • Not jargon
    • Not a list of test scores
    • Not a list of “see attached report”
implementing the summary of performance
Implementing the Summary of Performance
  • The SOP is most useful when linked with the IEP and transition planning process and the student has the opportunity to actively participate in the development of this document.
  • The SOP should be developed by someone who knows the student and should be reviewed and approved by the IEP Team
  • The SOP must be completed during the final year of a student’s high school education.
  • It can be the basis for transition planning throughout high school so it is virtually completed by the senior year
sop development
SOP Development


  • Be sure to include informal data from classrooms and testing accommodations
  • Be sure to include names and dates of assessments and standard scores
  • Indicate basis for disability determination
  • “Ask the student ‘how do you learn best?’”
  • Clarify accommodations listed in IEP versus those that were actually utilized
  • Limit statements related to future “success”
nationally ratified summary of performance template sop
Nationally Ratified Summary of Performance Template (SOP)
  • This is a model form that they may use as the basis for developing their own
  • It is available at:
  • This template has been ratified by many national organizations including: CEC, DLD, CEDS, LDA, HECSE, and CLD
  • A review of SDE websites indicates that fewer than 1/3 meet IDEA SOP mandates and less than 20% fulfill the template guidelines.
Part 1: Background Information –this section requests that you attach copies of the most recent formal and informal assessment reports that document the student’s disability or functional limitations and provide information to assist in post-high school planning.
  • This is critical for the documentation of a disability in post-school settings.
  • This section includes the name and contact information for the professional completing the SOP
Part 2: Student’s Postsecondary Goals– These goals should indicate the post-school environment(s) the student intends to transition to upon completion of high school.
  • The goals(s) could include employment, higher education, training, community participation, and/or independent living
  • This sets the direction for the focus of the contents of the SOP
Part 3: Summary of Performance – This section includes three critical areas: Academic, Cognitive and Functional levels of performance.
  • Next to each relevant area, complete the student’s present level of performance and the accommodations, modifications and assistive technology that were essential in high school to assist the student in achieving progress.
Part 4: Recommendations to assist the student in meeting postsecondary goals – This section should present suggestions for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services, to enhance access in a post-high school environment.
Part 5: Student Input - It is highly recommended that this section be completed and that the student provide information related to this Summary of Performance. The student’s contribution can help:
  • secondary professionals complete the summary;
  • the student to better understand the impact of his/her disability on academic and functional performance in the postsecondary setting;
  • postsecondary personnel to more clearly understand the student’s strengths and the impact of the disability on this student.

This section may be filled out independently by the student or completed with the student through an interview.

postsecondary documentation
Postsecondary Documentation

The Association on Higher Education and Disability recently published AHEAD’s Best Practices: Disability Documentation in Higher Education (2005) to support postsecondary personnel in this effort. It states,

The principles espoused by this document recommend that “institutional documentation policy should be flexible, allowing for the consideration of alternative methods and sources of documentation, as long as the essential goal of adequately describing the current impact is met” (p. 5)

What is the current reality?

school wide supports
School-wide Supports

Responsiveness to Intervention (RTI)

Positive Behavior Supports (PBS)

  • Evidence-based strategies in primary and middle grades and in basic subjects (reading, math)
  • Both have potential to provide effective instruction and social skills to prepare high school students with disabilities for college
  • Based on their efficacy in lower grades, the support of IDEA 2004 and the need for effective models at the high school level, extensive implementation and evaluation of RTI/PBS in high school would be appropriate
technology expectations for college success
Technology Expectations for College Success

We have preliminary data that there is a gap between technology skills needed and mastered in high school compared to those critical in postsecondary education? Those skills are across three domains:

  • Assistive Technology
  • Learning or Mainstream Technology (Blackboard, Vista, PowerPoint, Excel)
  • Distance (On-line and Blended Instruction)

Students with disabilities often need preparation across all three domains (Parker & Banerjee, 2007)

integrate technology and transition planning
Integrate Technology and Transition Planning

SwD who participated in EnvisionIT, a 40 hour transition course delivered online had:

  • Significantly higher scores on IT Literacy Tests
  • Significantly higher knowledge of how to find a job
  • Significantly higher knowledge of how to find information about college

Izzo, Dillon, Nagaraja, Novak, in press

rights and responsibilities
Rights and Responsibilities
  • Disclosure – Teach students how to disclose and encourage them to practice their Junior and Senior years of High School
  • Confidentiality – Assure students and teachers that confidentiality must be followed.
  • Documentation – Gain the most up-to-date documentation available from secondary sources and attach to the SOP
  • Accommodations -Provide accommodations in secondary that will be approved within postsecondary settings
  • Grievance Procedures – Teach students about grievance procedures.
  • Student self-identifying that s/he has a disability requiring accommodations.
  • A college is not required to provide accommodations when it does not know the student requires it.
  • It is the student’s responsibility to make his/her needs known before they attend class.
  • Students are not required to tell them before they are admitted to the school.
  • If you do not require any accommodations, you can choose not to tell.
  • Keep information private.
  • The college must keep this information private.
  • College personnel cannot discuss information about the student with anyone without permission.
  • If students want their parents to have a role in their postsecondary education, they must invite them.
  • Modifications to policy, procedure, and delivery method that allow students with disabilities an equal opportunity to participate.
  • Documentation will determine the accommodations received.
  • Accommodations must be specific to the limitations to learning as a result of the student’s disability.
  • Accommodations may be different than what the student used in high school.
types of accommodations
Extended time for tests

Reader service

Campus mobility training

Tape Textbooks 

Note taker

Enlarged print

Scribe for written exams

Tape-record lectures

Exams read aloud

Sign language interpreter

Distraction-free testing environment


Use of a word processor for essay exams

Specialized assistive technology

Course substitutions of non-essential program requirements

Types of Accommodations


Postsecondary education is a realistic and necessary option for successful adult outcomes.

An understanding of the differences between high school and postsecondary education is necessary if students with disabilities and their families are to be prepared to make wise choices for successful transition.



School personnel and students should use transition planning to foster self-determination and independent learning in students with disabilities.

It is critical for students to have the required assessment data and documentation of needs and accommodations if they expect supports in postsecondary education.

for more information
For more information:
  • FAME – Online Faculty Resources
  • Fast Facts for Faculty – Short Information Briefs

  • Center for Postsecondary Education and Disability – Dr. Stan Shaw, UConn