Center on Transition Innovations (CTI) projects are research and demonstration projects funded through the Virginia Department of Education. Much of the work we conduct with our collaborators has one goal: to provide information on pathways that lead to employment for youth with disabilities. The results of our work in the field help to shape the information we use to develop our online resources.
ACE-IT in College Replication
CTI is working with Thomas Nelson Community College to implement a “program of one” for students with significant disabilities. The model provides individualized supports through the use of an Education Coach to assist student participants in successfully integrating into a college environment and meeting academic demands.
Cultural Considerations in Transition Planning
Four focus groups will be conducted in Virginia during the spring of 2014 with families of youth aged 14-22 with autism who are from diverse cultural backgrounds. Group members will explore the issues unique to their cultural heritage that impact the transition planning process. Parents and family members of youth with autism spectrum disorders will be asked how educators should frame postsecondary goals and transition assessments to reflect their cultural values.
Customized employment is an individualized approach to providing access to employment for all students and adults with complex lives. The Customized Employment project works with students with disabilities in three school divisions (Loudoun, Montgomery and York), to develop their Discovery profiles and to explore customized employment opportunities. The intent is to work with these students while they are still in school, so that they will have a job when they graduate. The Discovery process begins in middle school and continues into high school.
As part of our work with the Virginia Department of Education, CTI is responsible for the data collection system for Indicator 14 (Student Follow-up Surveys). Indicator #14 is the percent of youth who are no longer in secondary school and had IEPs in effect at the time they left school in the following manner:
- Advanced Studies Diploma,
- Standard Diploma,
- Modified Standard Diploma,
- Applied Studies Diploma,
- High School Equivalency Examination (previously the GED),
- Certificate of Completion,
- Students who dropped out (includes all students with disabilities who dropped out during the past school year from 9th grade on up), and
- Students who exceeded the age of eligibility
Students with disabilities are contacted by school division staff members using an online survey to obtain information on students' participation in the areas of a) higher education, b) competitive employment, c) some other postsecondary education or training program or d) some other employment within one year of leaving high school. The data collected by school divisions are used by the Virginia Department of Education and divisions to assist in transition planning activities.
Project SEARCH is an internship program for students with significant disabilities who are immersed in a local business. CTI is working with five school divisions: Richmond City, Norfolk City, Manassas, Montgomery and Tazewell. Each Project SEARCH site is set in a local business, and students who are accepted into the program participate in a 9 month unpaid internship program to learn transferable skills. Students with disabilities rotate through three 10-week internships at the local business over a school calendar year. Project SEARCH is a collaborative effort between education, rehabilitation, and the local business. At the conclusion of the internships, school division staff and rehabilitation staff assist students in finding competitive employment based on the skills they have acquired.
A panel of five to seven experts in the education of students with disabilities will be assembled to evaluate the face validity of two tools used to help students develop self-determination skills; the One-Pager and the Good Day Plan. The One-Pager provides a way for students to introduce themselves, their needs, preferences, strengths, and interests to a new situation or person. The Good Day Plan is a simple worksheet used to help students identify the factors that play a role in whether or not they have a “good day.” These tools are both part of the “I’m Determined” program, administered by the Virginia Department of Education.
Start on Success
Start on Success is a model transition program that provides selected students with community-based transition from school to work with support from the school division, work site mentors, parents, and a local university or business. The program provides half-day paid internships for students who experience learning disabilities, emotional disabilities and/or other health impairments who are earning a standard diploma but are at risk of dropping out of school. CTI is working with Norfolk City Public Schools to implement this model.