School Matters - Activity #1

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School counselors, teachers, and parents often expect you to make plans in advance for what you will do when you get out of high school. The fact that you may be expected to know exactly what you will do in life and how you will do it can be overwhelming. Many teenagers whether they have a disability or not, don’t have a clear idea about what they will be doing in the future. Your parents or caregiver(s) may feel the need to protect you from failure and try to limit your choices.
Formal transition planning is a mandatory part of an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Not all individuals with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus will have an IEP. But, if an IEP is in place for you, your school will develop a transition plan with you.

It is fair for you to have the opportunity to set your own goals and attempt to fulfill them. You don’t need to know exactly what you want to do right now, but it is a good idea to start thinking about your goals and how to achieve them.  A transition plan is a good tool which you can use to map out your future after high school.

When you are making plans for after high school YOU should be in the centre of the planning. Your abilities, challenges, goals and what you look forward to must be at the centre of the plan. This is a commonly missed element in transition planning and you need to ensure it does not happen to you. Others, such as your parents, and teachers should be involved and contribute to your transition plan. If you feel unable to speak up for yourself, it is best to have someone who can advocate on your behalf during transition planning. 


What happens at school?

The transition plan involves three phases:

• Preparation
• Developing a person centred plan
• Implementing and documentation
 

Preparation

There should be a transition planning team whose members can be your parents, teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, community agency representatives and so on.  Your transition team should have a leader. Many students experience difficulty in making the transition from secondary school to postsecondary education, work, and/or community living. A detailed and coordinated transition plan that is put into place well before you move will help prepare and assist you in making a smoother transition.
 

Selecting the Transition Planning Team

The team leader, under the direction of the principal and in consultation with you and /or your parent will determine your transition planning team. Team members are selected to ensure that:
• Your needs and strengths are fully accounted for in the plan
• Your  goals are achievable with appropriate support
• The actions identified in the plan are appropriate in light of your  goals and abilities
• You will have access to sufficient resources to enable you to complete the planned actions and steps leading to achievement of your goals.
Participation of professionals should not diminish your role or, family and friends in taking responsibility for your transition plan.

Orienting the Team Members

Your team leader should make sure that all team members are familiar with transition-planning concepts and procedures by arranging for them to attend a school orientation session.
 

Resource Materials

The following resource materials are important references for a team leader and should be available on request to you and team members

  • Transition guide
  • School board policy and resource materials
  • Local school policy and procedures for transition planning including any agreements made between the school board and local service agencies, educational institutions, or employers to support transition planning for students
  • An inventory  of service providers and contact people
  • An inventory of work experience opportunities and job placement resources
  • An inventory of further education opportunities
     

Collecting Background Documentation

Your transition plan will be part of your IEP (Individualized Education Plan) if you have one. An IEP identifies your specific learning expectations and outlines how the school will address them (see list below) through appropriate accommodations, program modifications and/or alternative programs as well as specific instructional and assessment strategies.

Your learning expectations should be listed in the transition plan and they can be:

  • Knowledge of disability issues  
  • Daily living skills for independence
  • Self-advocacy skills   
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Study skills    
  • Stress management skills
  • Vocational/job skills   
  • Knowledge of health and sexuality issues
  • Employability skills   
  • Problem solving/decision making skills

The team leader will also collect information about you with appropriate permission to develop the transition plan. They may get information from:

  • Your last year’s transition plan (if there was one done) and any progress reports
  • A list of your strengths and needs from the most recent Identification, Placement, Review Committee (IPRC) statement of decision
  • You’re most recent Individualized Education Plan (IEP)
  • Your recent report cards
  • Your education assessment (from the IPRC process) report or other assessment reports such as physiological, speech language, etc.
  • Your vocational assessment (if one exists)
     

Designing the Process

The team leader must decide whether the transition plan can be developed as part of the IEP process or if separate transition planning meetings are needed. Therefore, the team leader will need to determine in advance which of the following best describe your needs:

1. Your transition planning needs can be met as part of the IEP with appropriate support and involvement from you and your family.  OR

2. You may require a number of specific supports to ensure a smooth and effective transition. In such a case a portion of the IEP meeting can be set for transition planning. OR

3. You have high or complex needs that involve participation of health care and community service providers and require multiple services to ensure a smooth transition. In this case a detailed transition plan is needed. A number of meetings need to be devoted specifically for transition planning.
 

Development of the Transition Plan

Your plan should include:

  • Your transition goals
  • Steps and actions necessary to achieve your goals
  • Indication that it is coordinated with your IEP and other plan.
  • Timelines and responsibilities for the team members
  • Any relevant medical, psychological and other assessments (e.g., speech and language, behavioural, physical or occupational)

Check List for Your Transition Plan

Your transition planning can involve school board officials, principals, teachers, students, your family, health care workers, community workers, and others who support you before you leave school.
 

Identifying the Steps and Actions to Achieve Your Goals

  • The actions that are required for you to achieve your goals are the heart of the transition plan.   Defining appropriate actions for your goals can be a difficult task. It may be helpful to identify barriers to achieving your goals along with major steps that would be involved. Once you have identified the barriers and major steps, then you and your team members can identify actions associated with each of them.
  • Your  goals should be:
     Achievable with appropriate support
     Consistent with your area of strength
     Coordinated with your Individual Education Plan (IEP)
      Realistic
      Sufficiently challenging

You  need to make sure your transition plan:

  • includes your goals, needs and strengths
  • identifies who is responsible in supporting you to  achieve those goals
  • outlines actions that will be taken to achieve your goals
  • identifies when you are expected to complete the actions
  • lists the actions that will be taken to achieve your goals year by year until the time you anticipate leaving school
  • identifies goals for work, further education and community living that reflect actual opportunities and resources that are likely to be available after you leave high school
  • includes information on how you can access resources to assist you in completing the actions
  • identifies the steps needed to attain your goals from the present until the anticipated time of you leaving school
  • indicates timely applications to wait listed programs and services that you may need such as :

 Further education
 Social services
 Health care services
 A Case worker
 Housing
 Transportation
 Supported employment
 Financial support

Your transition plan should indicate activities that help you to refine your goals. The following are additional sources that can be explored. In each of the following circumstances the individualized plan can indicate the actions that need to be taken, what you and the team have done and how long it may take:

  • Become familiar with programs and services that are out in the community.
  • Find out as much as you can about the financial supports that are available to you (e.g.  scholarships, student loans,  bursaries and grants for services and equipment).
  • You and your team should determine the amount of support that you will need in post secondary education, adult health care and for living in the community.
  • If you are planning to continue your education after high school then you need to gather relevant information from the university and college websites.
  • Have ongoing discussions with planning team members.
  • Make sure to follow up on your actions as well as those of your team members.
  • Last but not least, you and your team members can confirm the goals or agree to redefine them.
  • You and your team members can revisit your initial goals to accommodate any changes that you may encounter.

 

Your transition portfolio

Although your school will have your portfolio, it is a good idea for you to have your own copy and to maintain it as you complete high school. The following items should be in your portfolio:

  • Academic transcript and recent report cards
  • The transition plan and progress reports, all assessments (educational, medical, psychological, speech and language, social work)
  • IPRC description of strengths and needs and statements of decision
  • Most recent IEP( individualized education plan)
  • Cooperative education placement learning assessment reports
  • Your correspondence (e-mails, memos and letters) with   education institutions concerning your transition
  • Any information, emails, documents that indicate your       correspondence with any institutions to which you have applied.
  • Employment agency agreements or related documents
  • Case Management (if you are receiving multiple services that are being coordinated by a case manager, then you need to get a report from that case manager)
  • Documentation for monitoring your plan
  • Identification of anticipated actions in future years
     

Documentation and implementation

Each transition plan must contain at least these four major components:

  • goals, actions, responsibility and timelines.
  • A copy of the transition plan must be provided to you or your parents (if you are UNDER 16 years of age) within 30 school days after your placement.
  • If your transition plan is developed separately from the IEP it may be sent to you or your parents under a separate cover with a memorandum.
  • The transition plan must be filed in the Ontario Student Records (OSR) unless you or your parents object in writing.