Leadership and Policy
Federal, state, and local laws guide our practice for students with disabilities. It’s important to have a clear idea of what the key laws say, and how they influence what we do as educators in Special Education. Since the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (NCLB, 2001), and Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, 2004), the field of special education has experienced mandated changes at the federal, state, and local levels (Mazzotti, Test, & Mustain, 2012). Two new federal acts, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act, (WIOA, 2014) and Every Student Succeeds Act, (ESSA, 2015) continue to mandate changes at the federal, state, and local levels for our students with disabilities. I’ve listed below each of those laws and a brief statement about each one.
NCLB (2001) “mandated participation by all students in district and statewide assessments, increased accountability for all teachers, and required school to report adequate yearly progress” (Mazzotti, Test, & Mustain, 2012).
IDEA (2004) “required students with disabilities to exit from high school prepared for postschool education, employment, and independent living” (Mazzotti, Test, & Mustain, 2012).
WIOA (2014) “was designed to strengthen and improve the nation’s public workforce development system by helping Americans with barriers to employment, including individuals with disabilities, achieve high quality careers, and helping employers hire and retain skilled workers” (DOE, n.d.).
ESSA (2015) “students with disabilities will be required to take the same assessments and will be held to the same standards as other students. ESSA allows for only one percent of students, accounting for ten percent of students with disabilities, to be excused from the usual standardized testing” (ESSA, 2015).
In addition to the laws that govern special education practices, the Annual Performance Report Measures (APR) are a series of reports prepared by the United States Department of Education (DOE) and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). It provides educational data that is used to improve the quality of education for all students. The APR consists of 20 Indicators. 10 Indicators are for compliance and 10 are for performance. Four of those indicators pertain specifically to Secondary Transition.
Indicator 1: Graduation Four Year Rate—percent of all exiting students in grade twelve, and exiting ungraded students eighteen and over, who graduate from high school with a regular diploma. (Performance)
Indicator 2: Dropout Four Year Rate—percent of all students in grades nine and higher, and ungraded students thirteen and over, who exit special education by dropping out of school. (Performance)
Indicator 13: Secondary Transition Goals and Services—percent of youth aged 16 and above with an IEP that includes all eight coordinated, measurable, annual IEP goals and transition services that will reasonably enable the student to meet the postsecondary goals. (Compliance)
Indicator 14: Post-school—Percent of youth who had an IEP, are no longer in secondary school, and who have been:
enrolled in higher education
enrolled in higher education or competitively employed
enrolled in higher education, or in some other post-secondary education or training program; or competitively employed or in some other employment (Performance)
To improve the outcomes for students with disabilities in education, employment, and independent living, much is needed for federal, state, and local government changes to take place. Bringing awareness of what students with disabilities need for a successful postsecondary transition is essential. Without awareness, change cannot take place. When studying the history of disability awareness, it’s evident that change is slow, but it is happening.
In the article, “Secondary Transition Evidence-Based Practices and Predictors: Implications for Policymakers” it’s noted that “as a result of a systematic process using quality indicators to establish levels of evidence, 64 practices have been identified to support students in the area of secondary transition. These EBP’s provide teachers with tools to support skill development of students with disabilities, including development of individualized education program (IEP) goals and objectives” (Mazzotti, Test, & Mustain, 2012). On the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT) website, it gives each of the 64 practices, which are organized in the Taxonomy for Transition Programming. https://transitionta.org/sites/default/files/Tax_Trans_Prog_0.pdf
I used the Taxonomy for Transition Programming as a guide as I developed a transition program for our district. In addition, I used Evidence-Based Practices and Predictors in Secondary Transition: What We Know and What We Still Need to Know (Test, Fowler, & Kohler, 2013). This provides a list of evidence-based practices, research-based practices, and promising practices by level of evidence and outcome area.
Some of the ways that I have demonstrated leadership in our district is not only by training our professionals in secondary transition, but also participating in different committees. I feel it’s important for our students with disabilities to have equal access to the same opportunities as our general education students. In order to have equal access, there needs to be awareness that they are being left out. I want our students with disabilities to be able to participate in the Career and Technical Education classes, to participate in internships or apprenticeships, to participate in employment while in high school, to have the opportunity to go to the college days, participate in career fairs, and be part of everything the general education community practices. It’s important for our students with disabilities to advocate for themselves and feel empowered to make choices about their future. By getting out into the community myself, as a voice for special education students, I learn about opportunities for them, and raise awareness so that all people with disabilities have access. They have a lot to offer!
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Adhere to district, state, and federal transition requirements
Ensure teachers implement federal and state policies related to transition
Disseminate transition resources to stakeholders (i.e., educators, service providers, employers)
Train district professionals, community agencies, and transition stakeholders about transition
Advocate for transition program changes when needed
Engage in individual student advocacy when needed
Demonstrate professional ethics in role as a transition coordinator
Collect post-school outcomes data for youth exiting school
Use outcomes data to improve transition programs
Use evidence-based practices and research to develop transition programs
Executive Committee Government Relations
In April of 2017, I was nominated to be an alternate member of the WorkAbility I Executive Committee, Government Relations. As a member of the committee, you participate in the Executive Committee and within the executive committee there are eight sub-committees, one of which is the Government Relations Committee (GRC). The mission of the GRC is to research, correlate, and disseminate information related to legislative process and policy formation at the federal, state, and local levels as it relates to WorkAbility 1 programs. Our focus areas are: Immigration, Special Education Funding, Career and Technical Education, Reauthorization of IDEA, WIOA, Social Security, Foster Youth and Homeless Youth, Work Experience/Labor Laws, Autism, Carl Perkins Act, Higher Education Opportunity Act, ESSA, Mental Health Services, Competitive Integrated Employment Blueprint, Alternative Diplomas, and Regional Center. The culminating event for GRC each year was a trip to Sacramento to meet with our Senators and Assembly members who represent our area. The purpose of our trip was to bring awareness of the WorkAbility I Grant and to show them how our grant provides job opportunities for thousands of students with disabilities each year. I've included here some of our committee meeting agendas.
Competencies: 8.3, 8.4, 8.6, 8.7
County of Los Angeles Workforce Development,
Aging and Community Services
In May of 2018, I was invited to be part of the County of Los Angeles Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services Task Force. This was the initial meeting for the task force, and we plan to meet monthly from now on. Participants included educators, America's Job Center, adult agencies, and businesses. Our goal is to collaborate to find ways all agencies can work together and share resources.
Their vision is: All disconnected youth in Los Angeles will secure quality education, training, and employment opportunities.
Their mission is: Transform service delivery systems to improve the education, employment, housing, and physical and mental well-being of the region's disconnected 16-24 year old population.
Their values are: Connectivity, and change, that is centered on youth.
I'm excited to be part of this task force and be a voice for our students with disabilities. I've included here the agenda of our first two meetings.
Competencies: 8.3, 8.4, 8.6, 8.7
Over the course of the last two years I have done several secondary transition trainings. In 2016, our goal was to train all secondary special education teachers. At that time, we had about 75 teachers. We broke it up into 3 groups, and each group had two different days of training. The first training was Secondary Transition 101 and Transition Assessment. The second training was Writing an Individual Transition Plan, Student Led IEP’s, Google Classroom and ePortfolios. In addition, I put together a binder for each teacher to take with them as a resource. Included in the binder is a copy of the PowerPoints, Goal Writing examples, ITP examples, Assessments, College Preparation information, Resources, and ePortfolio information. I’ve included the cover of the binder here, along with some of the sign-in sheets and evaluations. In addition to all of the secondary special education teachers I have done a condensed version for our Special Education Director, Program Administrators, Program Specialists, Teacher Teaching Specialists, new teachers, Speech and Language Pathologists, psychologists, and some of our Assistant Principals and principals.
I’ve also trained several parents, educators and administrators on “How do We Prepare Students for Employment, Education, Independent Living?”, “Parent University-Transition”, “Community Advisory Council-Transition”, and “College and Career Ready.”
On Fridays, we have late start Friday meetings. This past year I put together a flier and sent it out to all of our secondary Assistant Principals and Principals for anyone who would be interested in giving me a late start Friday time (45 minutes), to do some training for their whole staff on transition. A few of the schools took me up on the offer, and I plan to do it again this year. I’m also available to teachers to do one-on-one training. I usually work with them on transition plans and transition assessments. I’ve included below some of my PowerPoint presentations. My goal is to continue to train parents, administrators, and teachers on secondary transition and all it entails, so our students with disabilities can be better prepared for adult life.
Competencies: 8.2, 8.3, 8.4, 8.5, 8.7, 8.10
Training Power Points
Indicator 13 states: Percent of youth with IEP's aged 16 and above with an IEP that includes appropriate measurable post-secondary goals that are annually updated and based upon an age appropriate transition assessment, transition services, including courses of study that will reasonably enable the student to meet those postsecondary goals, and annual IEP goals related to the student's transition services needs. There also must be evidence that the student was invited to the IEP team meeting where transition services are to be discussed and evidence that, if appropriate, a representative of any participating agency was invited to the IEP team meeting with the prior consent of the parent or student who has reached the age of majority (20 USC 1416(a)(3)(B)).
Indicator 13 compliance does not guarantee positive postsecondary outcomes; it improves students' ability to identify appropriate postsecondary education options based on their strengths, interests, preferences, and needs, and then succeed in postsecondary education. When IEP's are more compliant, the results from Indicator 13 data indicate that the IEP is more effective in preparing students through transition assessment, teaching self-advocacy and self-determination, strengths-based planning, and interagency collaboration. Included here is the checklist we use to check for compliance. On our APR, you will notice that we are 100% compliant for this Indicator.
Indicator 14 states: Percent of youth who had an IEP, are no longer in secondary school, and who have been competitively employed, enrolled in some type of postsecondary school, or both, within one year of leaving high school (20 USC 1416(a)(3)(B)). I've used the National Post-school Outcomes Center as a resource to develop a better understanding of Indicator 14 and how I should gather and categorize the data. For the past two years, I have been making the Indicator 14 calls. What I like about making the calls is that I get to hear first hand what our students are doing. Several parents have asked for additional resources to help their child seek employment or enroll in school. I'm glad that I am able to pass on information to them. Unfortunately, we do not get very many responders. In order to get more responders, my goal is to use other media, in addition to phone calls and start gathering email data at the beginning of the school year for our students and families.
Competencies: 8.8, 8.9
Barakat, Janet. “ Secondary Transition 101.” Middle School and High School Secondary Transition Training, Pomona Unified School District. 03 September 2016, Mendoza Center, Pomona, CA. Special Education Training.
Barakat, Janet. “ How do We Prepare Students for Employment, Education, Independent Living?”, Middle School and High School Secondary Transition Training, Pomona Unified School District. 01 February 2018, Mendoza Center, Pomona, CA. Special Education Training.
Barakat, Janet, & Aguirre, Rebecca. “ Google Classroom and Developing e-Portfolio's”, Middle School and High School Secondary Transition Training, Pomona Unified School District. 02 March 2017, Mendoza Center, Pomona, CA. Special Education Training.
Erickson, A. S., Noonan, P. M., Brussow, J. A., & Gilpin, B. J. (2013). The Impact of IDEA Indicator 13 Compliance on Postsecondary Outcomes. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals,37(3), 161-167. doi:10.1177/2165143413481497
"ESSA: Key Provisions and Implications for Students with Disabilities" (PDF). Council of Chief State School Officers. Retrieved August 5, 2017. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Every_Student_Succeeds_Act.
Fowler, C. H., Test, D. W., Cease-Cook, J., Toms, O., Bartholomew, A., & Scroggins, L. (2014). Policy Implications of High School Reform on College and Career Readiness of Youth With Disabilities. Journal of Disability Policy Studies,25(1), 19-29. doi:10.1177/1044207313518072
IDEA 2004 Website. (2018, January 29). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/idea2004.html
Indicator 13 (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/st/compliance.asp
Kohler, P. D., Gothberg, J. E., Fowler, C., and Coyle, J. (2016). Taxonomy for transition programming 2.0: A model for planning, organizing, and evaluating transition education, services, and programs. Western Michigan University. Available at www.transitionta.org.
Mazzotti, V. L., Test, D. W., & Mustian, A. L. (2012). Secondary Transition Evidence-Based Practices and Predictors. Journal of Disability Policy Studies,25(1), 5-18. doi:10.1177/1044207312460888
Mazzotti, V. L., Rowe, D. R., & Test, D. W. (2012). Navigating the Evidence-Based Practice Maze. Intervention in School and Clinic,48(3), 159-166. doi:10.1177/1053451212454004
No Child Left Behind. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml
Prince, A. M., Plotner, A. J., & Yell, M. L. (2014). Postsecondary Transition and the Courts. Journal of Disability Policy Studies,25(1), 41-47. doi:10.1177/1044207314530469
Simonsen, M. L., Novak, J. A., & Mazzotti, V. L. (2017). Status of Credentialing Structures Related to Secondary Transition: A State-Level Policy Analysis. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals,41(1), 27-38. doi:10.1177/2165143417742109
Test, D. W., Fowler, C., Kohler, P., (2016). Evidence-based practices and predictors in secondary transition: What we know and what we still need to know. Retrieved from https://transitionta.org/system/files/effectivepractices/EBPP_Exec_Summary_2016_12_13_16.pdf
U. S. Department of Education (n.d.) Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
U. S. Department of Education (n.d.). Part B State Performance Report (SSP) and Annual Performance Report (APR). Information Collection 1820-0624, Part B State Performance Plan (Part B—SPP) and Annual Performance Report (Part B—APR), contains both Part B—SPP and Part B—APR instructions. Retrieved from https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/bapr/2015/index.html
Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.edd.ca.gov/Jobs_and_Training/Workforce_Innovation_and_Opportunity_Act.htm&p=DevEx.LB.1,5067.1