Secondary Transition Supports

I am asked about resources for helping students transition from school to post secondary life. These questions come from parents of children with and without disabilities. They also come from educators who want to help their students become healthy future contributors to society. These individuals have at least one thing in common, a concern for their children’s’ future. Thankfully, there are resources that are available to support these needs. These include networks, organizations, and researchers who are dedicated to this cause.

Picture of flowers in transition

Image from Flickr Creative Commons

APEX RENEW Model – Helping high school students plan for the future
Helping secondary students develop a vision for their future is a key component of high school.  One approach that is increasing in evidence is the RENEW Model. This approach helps students develop a path for their future that accounts for obstacles and barriers in their lives.  It is a good addition to the tertiary components for school teams at the secondary level. A recorded webinar on the approach can be found here. You can see an example of this approach in action in the movie Who Cares About Kelsey.

I’m Determined – and every student can be too
The State of Virginia has a site called “I’m Determined.” It includes resources that help K-12 students develop a vision for their future and to increase in self-determination. One useful asset is the “One-Pager.” Some schools have every student develop a one page presentation about their goals, dreams, barriers, and future steps. It’s seems to be an effective way to help students with and without disabilities to prepare for their future…Here is a link to videos that demonstrate this work.

Center for Parent Information and Resources – Linking parents to supports
Sometimes when parents are concerned about the future of their students, they are not looking for a lawyer, they are only looking for support. One helpful resource is the Center for Parent Information and Resources. On this site, parents can find access to local agencies that can help their child discover supports to help their future. Many of these organizations help with advocacy and provide training for teachers in areas of need at no cost. These partnerships provide win-win connections for everyone.

Think College – It can happen for all students
If you are thinking about a post secondary setting for a student, a great stop would be to look at Think College. This is a website dedicated to helping students and families find colleges with supports for students with disabilities.  Many of colleges have programs that include students with more significance developmental disabilities. This is a great site to help educators, students, and family members see what is possible for all students.

Zarrow Center – Planning for the future
The University of Oklahoma has a great site for practical transition supports, the Zarrow Center.  One of my favorites is the student lead IEP. This has an interactive graphic for each step of the transition processes.  If you click on any part of the pathway, you can find ready made lesson plans and assessments to help students think about their futures.  Many of these resources would be helpful for students with and without disabilities.

Taking a student centered approach to helping our students develop their vision for the future is powerful.  The self-determination skills developed from some of these approaches can help students to be more likely to have the basics for independent living (e.g., financial independence, desire to live on their own).  For example, in one very important study people who were de-institutionalized from the infamous Willowbrook Hospital in New York, were more likely to independent when they experienced these kinds of approaches.  I believe these kinds of tools can be beneficial for all students as well.

There certainly are more resources related to transition, and I only touched on a few.  Other useful sites include the Transition Coalition, the National Parent Center on Transition and Employment, the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center, the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition, and the National Gateway on Self-Determination. What are some of the resources you are using in your settings?