Every student deserves the chance to excel in life after graduation. However, some high schools in the U.S. are failing to offer adequate post-schooling plans for students with disabilities.
Federal law dictates that all high schools must have in place Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to provide students with disabilities the resources they need to create a post-graduation career plan. While schools in some states offer these programs for students starting at age 14 and up, they are legally only required to help students to start formulating a plan by age 16. A well-rounded post-school transition plan includes mapping out specific goals towards independent living, work, and higher education.
Many school districts look only to written, canned assessments in the form of questionnaires as a way of determining what a student with disabilities may need. These questionnaires are often vague and don’t supply a full or accurate picture of a specific student’s needs.
Organizations like the William & Mary Training and Technical Assistance Center offer guidelines that address how educators can create a transitional plan that works best for their students. The WMTTA Center offers a considerations packet entitled “Transition Planning for a Brighter Future: Designing IEPs for Secondary Students With Disabilities” which is available for free online.
The WMTTA Center suggests assessment methods beginning with verbally interviewing the student to determine his or her areas of interest. They also suggest enlisting the help of the student’s parents in determining the student’s specific mental or physical challenges with the aim of tailoring a plan that best serves that student on his or her path to success.
Together with the help of parents, teachers, and organizations, the stereotypes surrounding people with disabilities can hopefully fade away into the past. These students deserve to be allowed to enjoy the feeling of proud self-sufficiency.