Best practices used in transition planning for high school students with disabilities

As most students with disabilities graduate from high school they experience underemployment, underutilization of postsecondary education, and less involvement in their communities. Since the early 1980's legislation requirements have changed in the area of special education. These changes have helped to create numerous transition programs across the nation that were designed and implemented to improve transition services to students with disabilities. The researcher of this paper reviewed many ofthe studies conducted on exemplary transition programs and school sites to develop a list of five best transition practices. The researcher also investigated a local California supported WorkAbility I program site and the Escondido Union High School District that it serves. Through interviews with a Job Developer and eleven special education teachers, the researcher documented the transition practiced used by this district. Comparing the documented best practices in literature to those used by these educators and the WorkAbility staff, the researcher drew conclusions on this district's utilization of"best practices"; that is, those practices that lead to positive postsecondary outcomes for students with disabilities. Key Terms: Individualized Transition Plan (ITP): A written education plan, usually accompanies an Individual Education Plan (IEP), to address a student's transition from school to adult life. The plan employs interagency collaboration between schools and community agencies. Transition Best Practices m Post Secondary: Life for students after high school: employment, college or vocational school, living arrangements, etc. Self Determination: The ability to know one's own strengths and weaknesses and be able to advocate for one's own self. Transition services (IDEA 1990, Public Law 101-476, Section 300.29): "A coordinated set of activities that promote movement from school to postschool activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation." WorkAbility I program: A California training program for students in special education ages 14 to 22 to promote career awareness and exploration. The WorkAbility II program serves transitioning adults that have usually been referred by the Department of Rehabilitation. For the purpose of this paper, WorkAbility I will be referred to as WorkAbility.