With the recent passage of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Every Student Succeeds Act and the current Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, new opportunities are available for families and students to write meaningful transition goals in the IEPs that prepare people with Down syndrome and other disabilities for competitive integrated employment – jobs where individuals work on a regular job interacting with non-disabled co-workers and are paid commensurate with others doing the same job.
Below is “transition” information you should have going into your child’s IEP meeting beginning at an early age. You want to ensure that your child develops the needed independence to be successful as an adult. This generally means inclusion in a regular class. Assessment and instruction should be designed to address the academic skills and knowledge that are needed for these post-school outcomes.
- The basis for all post-school outcomes is communication competence (having effective methods for communication).
- Academic instruction that includes the student in the general education curriculum is a key indicator for post-school success.
- Accommodations and adaptations to instructional materials should be designed to allow the student to be as independent as possible. (For example, riding the regular school bus will better prepare a student for using public transportation later; walking in schools with all children will prepare a child to later walk in crowds; using a written or “text to speech” task list for assignments, instead of being told the steps by support staff, will lead to less reliance on job coaches.)
- The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires that the alternate academic achievement standards upon which alternate assessments are based, must ensure that students who meet these standards are on track to pursue postsecondary education or employment.
- Each school district should have a transition coordinator. Find out who it is and go meet with that person. Lay out your goals for your child and what you want to accomplish in transition.
- The employment language in ESSA is linked to the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). ESSA and WIOA should be used at IEP meetings to advocate for competitive, integrated job experiences prior to exiting high school.
- “In school” jobs should be designed with an eye towards future competitive, integrated employment (e.g. jobs alongside non-disabled workers in the office, media center or school store develop more critical job skills than emptying trash cans or other custodial tasks that non-disabled students would never be asked to do).
- It is now a violation of WIOA for schools to enter into a contract with a sheltered workshop for transition services. Use this language in WIOA (below) if schools try to do that.*
- It is much easier for an individual with intellectual disabilities to be successful in an integrated workplace or on a college campus if he or she had experience working with nondisabled peers during elementary and secondary education.
Luecking, R., (2016). The Implications of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act for Seamless Transition of Youth with Significant Disabilities. Washington, DC: Collaboration to Promote Self-Determination (found at http://thecpsd.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/CPSD-WIOA-and-Seamless-Transitionv2.pdf)
Kleinert, H., Kearns, J., Quenemoen, R., & Thurlow, M. (2013). NCSC GSEG Policy Paper: Alternate Assessments Based on Common Core State Standards: How Do They Relate to College and Career Readiness? Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, National Center and State Collaborative [found at http://bit.ly/1Of6BAP]
*§ 397.31 What are the contracting limitations on educational agencies under this part? Neither a local educational agency, as defined in § 397.5(b)(1), nor a State educational agency, as defined in § 397.5(b)(2), may enter into a contract or other arrangement with an entity, as defined in § 397.5(d), for the purpose of operating a program for a youth under which work is compensated at a subminimum wage. (Authority: Section 511(b)(2)