Improving Student Outcomes: Promising Practices and Programs for 1999-2000*
A Directory of Innovative Approaches for Providing Transition Services for Youth with Disabilities by Paula D. Kohler, Ph.D. and Lisa K. Hood
List of the 20 Promising Practices and Programs for 1999 - 2000
The National Transition Alliance for Youth and Disabilities (NTA) identified promising programs and practices that promote post-school outcomes for students with disabilities through inclusive school-to-work systems. The purpose of this initiative was to identify specific practices or programs that result in improved outcomes for students, such as development of specific skills, post-school employment, or enrollment in postsecondary education. An organization had the option to nominate (a) a specific practice or practices, such as its self-determination curriculum; or (b) a program comprised of several practices, such as its dropout prevention program or occupational skill training program. A variety of organizations submitted over 48 nominations.
We used three criteria to screen and evaluate the nominations: (a) the nomination featured a program or practices that provide transition- or school-to-work-related services or instruction to students with disabilities; (b) the nomination provided sufficient information and evidence to understand the purpose, context, and activities of the program or practices; and (c) the nomination provided evaluation information to indicate the extent of implementation and the outputs and/or outcomes associated with that implementation.
Subsequently, we selected programs and practices as promising if they presented some evidence to indicate that their activities were benefiting students with disabilities. These benefits included improved skills levels, specific post-school experiences, and/or opportunities to participate in specific activities that we know help foster improved post-school outcomes (e.g., career exploration or work-based education).
We identified 20 promising programs. These programs include a variety of approaches and occur in a variety of contexts. For example, several programs provide work-based educational experiences, six programs affiliated with community colleges or universities provide transition services to those pursuing college and/or careers, and one program is producing systems change by creating hybrid agencies. We highlight these programs in this directory.
This directory is organized to provide key information about the promising programs. The first items we feature include the contact information, the program's mission, and organizational details. We encourage the reader to refer to the instrument used to identify nominations, included in the Appendix, to view the nature of the program details collected. We then present information about the program's consumers, including the target populations and the disability areas represented by the consumers. Next we identify the NTA Transition Practices Framework categories each program addresses. (Complete information about the NTA framework follows this section.) We then include detailed descriptions of the programs and a summary of their evidence of success. Finally, we provide success stories that describe students' experiences from some of the programs and, if applicable, available products. In the back of the directory, the programs are indexed in two ways: (a) by state, and (b) by NTA framework category.
Detailed information about these programs and other model and promising programs is also available on our web site, www.dssc.org/nta. For more information, contact the NTA at the Transition Research Institute, 217-333-2325.
Dr. Paula Kohler, Western Michigan University and the Transition Research Institute, University of Illinois
NTA Transition Practices Framework
Our efforts to identify promising practices and programs will utilize the NTA Transition Practices Framework, a tool that helps us identify, evaluate, and provide information about effective school-to-work practices. This framework was developed from efforts that included review of relevant research literature, evaluation of exemplary transition programs, analysis of activities and outcomes of model demonstration transition projects, and analysis of theoretical and applied documents developed by the National School-to-Work Office. Development of the framework included the input of over 200 "transition experts" from across the United States.
The NTA Transition Practices Framework includes five broad categories of practices. Each of these categories features a number of primary elements. Elements are the building blocks of the categories and include specific school-to-work practices. Practices are the activities and conditions that ensure successful outcomes.
The components of the framework are linked together by the concept of collaboration--represented in the framework graphic by the lighted path.
The three spheres, on the path to successful outcomes, represent three major initiatives through which the National Transition Alliance is working to assist organizations to develop inclusive school-to-work systems: identifying effective practices information, providing technical assistance, and disseminating information. As part of our efforts to identify effective practices, we sought nominations of effective strategies for implementing practices in the NTA Transition Practices Framework. A description of the transition practices categories follows.
Student-Focused Planning and Development
Practices in this category focus on planning and developing educational programs for individual students. An emphasis on life skills development, student assessment and accommodations, and proactive planning provides a fundamental basis for achieving a successful school-to-work transition. Students and parents should be at the center of the planning process and should drive planning decisions.
Career Pathways and Contextual Learning
Practices in this category focus on school- and work-based curricula and activities linking high academic and workplace standards. Integrated vocational and academic curricula address employment skills instruction and occupation-specific vocational development. Individual learning plans link school and work experiences to develop work-related behaviors and both general and specific skill outcomes.
Family involvement practices are those associated with parent and family participation in planning and delivering education and transition services, including facilitating such involvement. Family-focused training increases parents' knowledge and skills related to advocacy, planning, support and legal issues. Family empowerment practices facilitate family participation in planning, assessment, training, mentoring, and support roles.
Business, Labor, and Community Resources
Business and community resource practices facilitate participation by businesses, labor unions, community service agencies, government organizations, and other community resources in all aspects of school-to-work systems. Interagency agreements, an interagency coordinating body, established methods of communication, and clearly articulated roles promote active involvement of various community organizations in curriculum and program development. Community organizations validate skill standards and worker competencies and provide classroom resources and training sites for both students and educators. Student and teacher mentoring by members of community organizations is an important part that links education and work.
Structures and Policies
This category consists of program practices or features related to the efficient and effective delivery of school-to-work and transition services. Program partnerships, philosophy, planning, policy, evaluation, and human resource development are essential for developing effective school to work practices.
Kohler, P.D., & Hood, L.K. (2000). Improving student outcomes: Promising practices and programs for 1999-2000. [A directory of innovative approaches for providing transition services for youth with disabilities]. Champaign, IL: Transition Research Institute. University of Illinois.
This publication was supported under Cooperative Agreement DE-H158M50001 from the Office of Special Education Programs, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, U.S. Department of Education, and the National School-to-Work Office, U.S. Department of Labor. The contents do not necessarily represent the policy of these agencies and endorsement by the federal government should not be assumed.
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