College and Career Readiness for Special Needs Students

By Schlosser, Linda K. | AMLE Magazine, May 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

College and Career Readiness for Special Needs Students


Schlosser, Linda K., AMLE Magazine


Thinking about career and college readiness for a sixth grader is a little too soon for some teachers and parents. As a parent, I felt hard-pressed to decide the future for my son when he entered the middle grades. He was a young man in no rush to assume the responsibilities of growing up, and my husband and I wondered if pushing him to identify career aspirations at such a young age was putting the cart before the horse. You can't rush development: He wasn't really ready.

Our son also has special needs. Yet, in retrospect, I see many ways we and his teachers could have addressed aspects of college and career readiness that would have paved the way for smoother decision making later, when he was ready.

Helping students with special needs and their parents identify a path that will lead to greater success in high school and beyond is an essential component of middle school. Why? The college and career focus for special needs students doesn't get much attention until high school, and even then the pathway for students with significant disabilities is narrowly defined or dismissed altogether. Yet, psychologists tell us that the middle grades are the time when young adolescents begin to build visions of their "future" or "hoped-for" selves-true even of adolescents who learn differently.

Middle school teachers in the know can change widespread "no-way" attitudes to "never-theless" attitudes. They can make college life and career aspirations an educated reality for students with special needs, opening the doors for more productive "future" selves.

Recognizing Differences

There are three major differences between high school and college when in comes to students with special needs. Because these differences affect what needs to happen in the middle school to prepare students for transition, they are important to review.

First, high school students with disabilities are guaranteed a free and appropriate secondary education, but when they enter college, although ADA and Section 504 aim to remove barriers and provide reasonable accommodations, there are no laws that guarantee special programs.

Second, parents of high school students with special needs can be actively involved in advocating for appropriate services and can reach out to teachers and review their teen's school records. In college, however, students must be able to advocate for themselves. It is against the law for college faculty to communicate with parents without the student's written permission.

Finally, IEPs or 504s are legal documents that must be followed when a student is in high school, but once they enter college, there are no IEPs. The Disability Services Office will develop a plan with the student based on documentation of the disability, but only accommodations are allowed; modifications are not allowed in courses taken for credit.

tips for Success

With these important differences in mind, how can middle school teachers work with parents and students who have special needs to broaden their access to postsecondary experiences?

Research shows that the middle grades are a tipping point for "average" students. These are the years when academic self-concept, independence, persistence, and work ethic begin to solidify, and when choices are made that affect access to high school curriculum and, by default, to college entrance.

Robert Balfanz's studies have shown that the middle years, not high school years, are the linchpin to career and college success. For students with special needs, the middle school years are an even more precarious tipping point. What can we do to improve their chances of success?

1. teach Self-Awareness and Self-Advocacy

The single most important thing we can do at the middle level, aside from continuing to strength students' academic and social skills, is to start self-awareness and self-advocacy portfolios for our students. Many colleges have tools to help parents and students determine if they are ready for college. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

College and Career Readiness for Special Needs Students
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    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.