While I was on staff in the Special Education Section of the Arizona Department of Education, we adapted the Oregon Youth Transition Program to fit unique needs in Arizona. We attribute much of our success in implementing the approach in Arizona to the fact that YTP is thoughtful, intact, and field-tested.
Arizona State University
|States can play an important role in promoting quality transition services. Following are examples of how states are responding to needs in the field.|
Partnership in OregonThe Oregon Youth Transition Program (YTP) is a comprehensive, statewide initiative geared toward improving the post-school and life successes of its participants. YTP is overseen at the state level, but implemented and operated at the district level. YTP services include:
Michael Benz, researcher at the University of Oregon, has been involved with YTP and its development since the early 1980s. "The idea for YTP started with a 1983 statewide survey which suggested, among other things, the need for a community transition team model in partnership with the state." From there, Benz worked on a state systems change grant. "By the late eighties we began seeing the need to build a service delivery system in transition that connected all adult agencies with schools and communities." With OSEP support, Benz launched a model demonstration project to do just that.
- Individualized planning focused on post-school goals, self-determination, and coordination with relevant community agencies.
- Instruction in academic, vocational, independent living, and personal-social skills; help to stay in school and obtain a completion document.
- Paid job training while in the program and assistance to secure employment or enter postsecondary education upon leaving the program.
- Follow-up support for 2 years after leaving the program.
According to Tim Latta, Coordinator for School Transition Services in Oregon's Vocational Rehabilitation Division, the partnership with the state has proven successful for districts. "The support we provide allows districts to hire a person to serve a small number of students, which for many administrators is a hard decision to make" Latta said. "But it also allows them to see the kind of positive results that come with YTP. Since its inception in 1990, the program has served several thousand students in over 75% of Oregon's high schools with the following results:
- Of youth in the YTP, 67% obtain a regular high school diploma compared to 43% of youth with disabilities nationally. (The graduation rate for students without disabilities is 75%.)
- Of YTP students, 70% are competitively employed during the first 2 years after leaving school compared to 46% of youth with disabilities nationally. (The employment rate for YTP students is the same as the competitive employment rate for students without disabilities.)
Ohio Creates Transition to Work EndorsementSome states have addressed the need for transition specialists by creating special, licensed positions. The State of Ohio took a different approach when they created the Transition to Work Endorsement.
"As part of a state systems change grant, we studied the need for qualified professionals who could serve as transition specialists and determined that creating a new position on top of what we already had was not a viable option," reports Lawrence Dennis, who is a project director in the Division of Special Education, State of Ohio Department of Education. "We decided to provide a process for professionals in the state to retool their skills and knowledge."
To qualify for the Transition to Work Endorsement, candidates must demonstrate competencies that reflect effective district-based transition programs. "We based the endorsement competencies on those espoused for transition specialists in the book, What Every Special Educator Must Know: The International Standards for the Preparation and Licensure of Special Educators (The Council for Exceptional Children, 1998).
"We especially hope that all future special education teachers will view the endorsement as enhancing their marketability and complete it as part of their undergraduate training," Dennis stated.