TRANSITION to Work/College for Special Education Learners

All students benefit from effective guidance and information about post-high school work and college options, even moreso special education students. IDEA, the federal legislation that regulates the rights of the disabled, requires that planning for life after high school begins at age 14. These links focus on transition services, how to help the child gain as much independence as possible, and how to move from being a student to being a member of the community. Only about 20% of high school students complete college; most high school guidance programs, in fact many feel that most of the high school curriculum, are oriented toward this minority of students. Ensuring that all students have access to high quality career-related learning programs and systems is critical to sustaining education in a democracy, and to unlocking student motivation through contact with competent, caring adults in a variety of settings.

Since about 80% of high school students will look to find a place in the working world without a college career, including but not at all limited to the majority of special need students, it is imperative that career guidance, school to work transition programs, and wider use of internships and apprenticeships are needed. Transcending barriers through cross-age tutoring and cross-generational projects will both further transition and strengthen schools. Helping students set and reach higher academic, career and personal goals depends largely on the models they see for reaching real life gains and rewards. The web can be a tremendous aid to students, families and schools; an excellent resource is, that includes sites for students with disabilities.

  1. Best Practices in Planning for Transition from School to Adult Life -- Is a Kansas site with excellent examples of the varied elements of transition. This site is a “mini-course” in itself to learn the in’s and out’s of this legally demanded and ethically required planning process for secondary students.
  2. Transition: Life After High School -- Discusses the legal requirements for planning with secondary students
  3. The Wisconsin Center on Education and Work -- Shows a number of areas of focus typical of the best state-wide leadership in school-to-work transitions with equity for all secondary students.
  4. Equity/Special Populations -- Note this site’s summary of projects
  5. The University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration -- Describes its Transition Services Program Area works to enable schools and community service agencies to better prepare secondary level youth with disabilities for life as productive, responsible adults in the community.
  6. Transition Planning With Teens -- Discusses transition-planning tips for parents, as well as teachers of teens
  7. Transition Planning Work Sheet -- A tool to evaluate a secondary level program
  8. Taking Charge of Special Needs: Recent College Grad Shares Wisdom of Experience -- Written by a recent college graduate who has cerebral palsy
  9. Model Transition Projects/Transition System Change Projects/Technical Assistance/ Information Dissemination/Transition-Related Web Sites -- Lists a wide array of transition projects
  10. Transition to College -- Most colleges have an Office of Disability Services. The one at the University of Missouri has produced this useful web site.
  11. Tackling the Tough Skills -- Adult life skills/teen life skills


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