States are updating their secondary transition efforts, thanks to a recent review by the Department of Education.
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ADHD/LD students are legally entitled to planning services, beginning by age 16, to help them navigate life after high school.
But a recent review by the U.S. Education Department, on how effectively the special-ed law is applied, finds that most states aren’t doing enough to assist kids with the post-secondary transition, leaving many at risk for less-than-successful long-term outcomes.
There are two major reasons for the lack of emphasis on transitional planning for children in special education. One is the importance that the No Child Left Behind Act places on academic subjects, rather than life and job skills.
The other is the lack of communication between schools and agencies that serve people with disabilities. Schools often ask a special education teacher to serve as their transition coordinator, but this method provides few opportunities for the teacher to leave the classroom to form relationships with service providers.
There is some evidence that a shift in transitional planning is beginning, though. The most recent version of the IDEA, passed in 2004, states that students' goals in their IEPs must reflect their interests and strengths, and that progress towards those goals must be monitored.
Further, despite the current lack of transitional help, colleges are beginning to accept more students with disabilities. While the number of students with disabilities currently attending college is still low, it is nearly double the number who attended in the 1990s.
And, although they don't often include college-bound students, high schools that serve only students with disabilities seem to have the most comprehensive transitional planning. Now that they've been identified, other high schools can use these as models for their own programs.
Since the education department’s release of these “report cards,” states, in turn, have submitted updates on their transition efforts. Learn more about how your state stacks up at ed.gov and wrightslaw.com.
—excerpted from the Summer 2008 issue of ADDitude