Academic journal article Exceptional Children

The Reality of Best Practices in Transition: A Case Study

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

The Reality of Best Practices in Transition: A Case Study

Article excerpt

The importance of effective transition planning for students with so-called "milder disabilities," such as learning disabilities, is becoming ever more apparent as outcome and longitudinal studies report dismal postschool outcomes for these students. While individuals with learning disabilities show the highest rate of employment for all disability groups, they still show high rates of unemployment compared to the general population (Edgar, 1987). Of concern, too, are high rates of underemployment and low earnings (Haring, Lovett, & Smith, 1990). Findings by Wagner (1993) indicate two other outcomes that are not promising. Wagner found that within 5 years of graduation, 31% of individuals with learning disabilities had been arrested at least once. In addition, 50% of individuals with learning disabilities were reported to be parenting (compared to only 21% of their nondisabled peers). Furthermore, according to Fairweather and Shaver (1991), for this population of individuals with average or above intelligence, the rate of enrollment in postsecondary education is extremely low (17% compared to 56% of the nondisabled population). Finally it should be noted that these data are reported on individuals who exited school by graduating. Follow-up studies of individuals leaving school report dropout rates for students with learning disabilities of 36%, 42%, and 56%, respectively (Adelman & Vogel, 1990; Edgar, 1987; Malcom, Polatajko, & Simons, 1990). One would expect to find even worse outcomes for these individuals.

In response to these discouraging findings, the professional literature emphasizes the importance of transition planning and instruction. Articles regarding the instructional domains related to transition (e.g., Ysseldyke, Thurlow, & Gilman, 1993), the process of transition beyond domains and individualized education programs (IEPs; e.g., Wehman, Kregel, & Barcus, 1985), and the factors important to successful transition outcomes (e.g., Rusch, Enchelmaier, & Kohler, 1994) abound. Indeed, curricula specific to transition issues such as career education and functional skills training (e.g., Brolin, 1991) have emerged.

While information regarding the transition process, transition curricula, and related instruction is essential in improving how we provide transition services, it is insufficient. Questions remain regarding what teachers are actually doing to address the transition needs of secondary-aged students, the match between what teachers are doing and what the literature identifies as best-practice, and the effects of actual transition practices. As with other educational trends, many transition programs are being developed and implemented without the collection of any real data regarding the effectiveness of services, with little effort towards program evaluation, and with no measure of program effects on student outcomes. Halpern (1990) suggests that better services can be provided if a systematic means (i.e., a set of guidelines) for monitoring transition services is developed. One way to go about this is to increase the amount of program evaluation data collected regarding transition services. A means of doing this would involve increasing the amount of quantitative data collected on student outcomes. Another method is to gather qualitative data about program development, implementation, and their effects and compare that data to the existent theory regarding suggested best practices and indicators of successful programs.

The study reported here examined transition within the context of one secondary program identified as successful. The information collected in this study provides a depth of insight currently lacking in the literature on transition. Such insight may reveal the varying importance (both perceived and real) of factors related to transition success. It is emphasized that the nature of this study was descriptive, with the intent only of describing the reality of transition planning and implementation in one classroom. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.