WORTHINGTON — Transitioning from high school to adult life can be challenging for all students upon graduation, but for students with disabilities, transition planning can be even more trying. To assist students with disabilities into adulthood, high school teachers and counselors guide students by addressing four domains of Secondary Transition Planning under the Career and College Competencies — employment skills, transition knowledge, social awareness and career development.
These four competencies are communicated and taught within transition classes, which provide instruction and learning opportunities to prepare students for the future. First of all, high schools interview students to discover strengths, interests, preferences and needs of the students. Secondly, postsecondary goals — goals for the future — are written to complement what the students have conveyed through the transition survey. These goals are measurable and address what type of training the students may need, where the students would like to be employed and any independent living concerns the students may need addressed. Next, the school develops a list of courses students may be interested in, for grades 9 through 12, identifying the classes that support the students in reaching their goals. Transition services are then explored further as students are guided and prepared for the world of work, community experiences and post-school living skills.
The last area of Secondary Transition Planning is a wrap-around model of service for students with disabilities. The goal is to coordinate services with adult agencies to prepare for life after the student graduates. In Worthington, the combined effort organization — Community Transition Interagency Committee (CTIC) — is a reborn collaborative with a variety of community agencies combining efforts to provide quality transitional services for high school students with special needs. A few of the agencies are: Vocational Rehabilitative Services (VRS), Nobles Community Services, The Achievement Center: Hope Haven (TAC), Nobles County Development Achievement Center (DAC), Southwestern Center for Independent Living (SWCIL), SW MN Private Industry Council (PIC) and the Worthington High School Special Education Department. These agencies have been meeting for a year for the purposes of collaborating, designing processes and serving students with special needs.
So, what does college and career readiness look like for students with disabilities? It looks like a team of agencies working together to provide the support and learning opportunities for students to prepare for the future. Nobles County is extremely fortunate to have such an active and committed group of collaborative agencies to serve our young people with disabilities. The Nobles County CTIC team is dedicated to providing support to students by addressing the competencies of employment skills, transition knowledge, social awareness and career development. We appreciate this team and their dedication to the students of Nobles County.
Deb Stoll is District 518's director of special education.