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Meeting of the Board of Regents | November 2008

Saturday, November 1, 2008 - 5:00am

sed seal                                                                                                 








Rebecca H. Cort   



Transition Planning and Services for Students with Disabilities



October 30, 2008



Goals 1, 2 &  4







Issue for Discussion


The purpose of this report is to share the most recent data regarding school to post-school transition planning and services for students with disabilities, activities to improve the transition process, and policy issues that will have a significant impact on courses of study, transition planning and post-school outcomes for students with disabilities.


Reason for Consideration


              For information.


Procedural History


Since 1990, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and State laws and regulations have required school districts to provide transition planning and services to New York State’s approximately 140,000 secondary students with disabilities who are between the ages of 15 and 21.  VESID publicly reports results and improvement activities relating to transition planning and outcomes in its IDEA Annual Performance Report (APR).   In the “Designing our Future” updates, services provided to young adults are addressed in terms of the Model Transition projects, postsecondary education initiatives and employment.




What is transition planning?


Transition planning is the formalized way to assure that students with disabilities are prepared while still in high school for post-school learning, independent living and employment success. Transition planning and services begin with the individualized education program (IEP) in effect for the school year that the student turns age 15 and is updated annually.  Following an age-appropriate assessment of a student’s transition service needs, preferences and interests, the IEP must:

  • document the student’s needs, taking into account the student’s strengths, preferences and interests, as they related to transition from school to post-school activities;
  • identify the student’s measurable post secondary goals relating to training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills;
  • include a statement of the courses of study that a student might need to reach those post-secondary goals;
  • identify needed activities to facilitate that student’s movement from school to post-school activities.  These activities are in the areas of instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives and, when appropriate, to help the student to acquire daily living skills or to obtain a functional vocational evaluation; and
  • include a statement of the responsibilities of the school district and, when applicable, participating agencies that would be providing services and activities before the student leaves the school setting.


What do the data tell us about the transition planning process in NYS?


Each year VESID monitors approximately 116 school districts, including New York City (NYC), and publicly reports on the percent of youth in the State who are aged 15 and above who have an IEP that includes coordinated, measurable, annual IEP goals and transition services that reasonably enable the student to meet their post-secondary goals.  This is done through a review of all or a sample of students IEPs from those school districts.  Results reported in the February 2008 APR indicate that 46 percent of youth have IEP transition plans that are reasonably calculated to help them achieve their post-secondary goals and in full compliance with State and federal requirements.  While this is an improvement over the previous year’s 33 percent, the target is 100 percent. 


What are the post-school outcomes for students with disabilities?


New York State (NYS) also assesses annually the performance of approximately 116 school districts, including NYC, to determine the percentage of NYS youth who had IEPs and are no longer in secondary school who have been competitively employed, enrolled in some type of post-secondary school, or both, within one year of leaving school. This work is conducted by a VESID funded contractor, Potsdam Institute for Applied Research (PIAR) located at the State University of New York (SUNY), who locates and interviews all or a sample of the students from each school district one year after the student’s exit from school. The first set of interviews in 2006 showed that 17 percent of youth from the class of 2005 had enrolled in post-secondary school only, 29 percent had become competitively employed only, and 46 percent had done both, for a total of 92 percent.

  • While 96 percent of all students with disabilities holding Regents or local diplomas had transitioned to post-secondary school and/or competitive employment at some point during the year since leaving school, only 84 percent of students with IEP diplomas and 78 percent of students who had dropped out of school had these positive outcomes.
  • Transitions to competitive employment were less often reported by NYC students (57 percent) than for students from the rest of the reporting school districts (78 percent).


We believe that the above results are an overestimate of actual post-school outcomes for all students with disabilities. There were lower response rates from students who had dropped out of high school and from students with emotional disabilities.  In addition, the federal measure counts those who participated in employment or post-secondary school only a limited time during the intervening year since leaving school.  Excluding those who were no longer engaged in these post-school activities at the time of interview, the results drop to 84 percent of former students still in one or both of these outcomes a year or after leaving high school.


              VESID completed a longitudinal series of surveys, following representative samples of special and general education seniors from the classes of 2000 and 2001.  Seniors were interviewed about the in-school transition process they had experienced at the point of their school completion with Regents, local and IEP diplomas.  They were interviewed again at one, three and five years beyond school exit.  The results of this longitudinal study showed:


  • At one year beyond high school completion, 83 percent of former students with disabilities from the senior class of 2001 holding a Regents, local or IEP diploma had transitioned to postsecondary education or employment while 96 percent of former general education students with a Regents or local diploma achieved these outcomes. As compared to a similar survey done in 1996, this represented an eight percentage point increase for students with disabilities and a five percentage point increase for students without disabilities. 


  • Positive outcomes were achieved through an effective and ongoing transition planning process that includes the provision of paid or unpaid work experiences while students are still in high school.
  • The pattern of postsecondary participation and completion for students with versus those without disabilities was much different, even for Regents diploma recipients.  Sixty-two (62) percent of students with disabilities holding Regents diplomas successfully participated in two- or four-year college programs compared with 84 percent of their general education peers.
  • IEP diploma recipients five years after completing high school were not participating in the competitive labor market to the same degree as their peers.  On average, 80 percent of former students with and without disabilities holding either a Regents or local diploma were participating in the competitive labor market, but only 60 percent of IEP diploma recipients were competitively employed.
  • Disparities in educational attainment have had earnings consequences for young adults with disabilities as compared with their nondisabled peers.
  • Thirty (30) percent of the 714 former general education students found to be employed were in the highest paid professional level positions while only 18 percent were in entry level, unskilled positions.
  • Only 19 percent of the 906 former special education students found to be employed were in the highest paid professional level positions, while 24 percent were in entry level, unskilled positions.


How does VESID support school districts, students and families with the transition process?


  • Seven Regional Transition Coordination Sites assist local communities to implement transition planning and services. A list of these Transition Coordination Sites is provided in Attachment 1.  Their objectives are to:


  • Provide technical assistance to school districts to improve the transition planning process.
  • Coordinate existing resources within the geographical area of each Site to provide information, training and technical assistance to support school districts, families, students and community agencies in their implementation of transition planning; and
  • Assist at the local and community levels in expanding services that enhance transition of students with disabilities from school to postsecondary educational opportunities, community living, adult services and employment.


Through a contract with Cornell University, VESID also supports a web-based system, TransQual, which is designed to help school districts self-identify needs for improvement and plan strategically to make these improvements, as well as to identify community resources and information for professional development. TransQUAL Online is an organizational assessment tool used by New York State school districts and Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) to help improve the academic achievement and adult outcome of their students with disabilities. This tool utilizes the New York State Transition Quality Indicators Self-Assessment and assists assessment teams determine baseline needs, assess current performance, develop plans, and evaluate outcomes.

  • VESID supported Independent Living Centers (ILCs) provide an array of services that assist New Yorkers with disabilities to live integrated and self-directed lives.  VESID administers base funding for 39 Independent Living Centers (ILCS) throughout the state.  ILCs help individual students, schools and families with transition, particularly helping them to learn about and use the community services they will need post-school and about options they may need to consider in preparation for greater independence beyond high school.
  • Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) initiatives address high quality transition models in high school and college.


What do we know about postsecondary education and vocational rehabilitation?


              The transition process needs to address a wide array of student skills for learning, working, community living and self-determination.  Schools cannot address all needs in isolation of community services and programs.  In addition to what the student can learn in school, there needs to be planning for what types of services students will need once they graduate from their programs.  VESID VR is one of the key systems to facilitate the transition process from school to postsecondary placements and/or employment.  The number of students with disabilities provided VR services has increased from 25,176 to 35,363 over the last eight years (See Attachment 2).  Additionally, the percent of students with disabilities that make up the State active caseload increased from 24 percent to 37 percent during this same period of time.  In order to meet the increased demand for VR services to youth, VESID developed policy, using a collaborative approach, based on current research and best practices.


What is the VESID VR Transition Policy?


In 2008, VESID revised its vocational rehabilitation transition policy, establishing an affirmative role for VR Counselors in transition from school to work.  Transition from school to work is a critical time for young adults with disabilities. Similar to their non-disabled peers, youth with disabilities benefit from career planning and normative work experiences during young adulthood.  This increases the likelihood that they will successfully enter the job market as young adults.  To address this need, VESID revised the 421.00 Youth in School - Transition Referral, Planning and Services Policy in August 2008.   Changes to this policy were based on the work of a policy development work team consisting of transition counselors and supervisors from the VESID Vocational Rehabilitation District Offices, VESID’s Office of Special Education and from the VESID State Rehabilitation Council.  


              The policy reinforces VESID’s commitment to begin working with students with disabilities two years prior to the student’s expected school exit.  It outlines the role of the vocational rehabilitation counselor as an active participant in the transition planning process.  The policy clarifies what documentation can be obtained from school districts to assist the VR counselor to determine the student’s eligibility for VR services and to expedite post-school services.


              Two years prior to expected school exit, the VESID VR counselor works with the school district to identify in-school youth who are likely to be eligible for VESID VR services. The VESID counselor assists students with disabilities to obtain employment consistent with their strengths, abilities, career interests and informed choice.


              While local school districts are responsible for providing education and transition services to students with disabilities who are still in high school, the VESID VR counselor can provide transition services that involve preparing for the student’s future employment. The VESID VR counselor, together with the student and the student’s family, and working with the school district, coordinates VR services for students with disabilities.


As an active participant in the transition planning process, the VESID VR counselor:


  1. Informs students, parents and school staff about VESID VR services related to employment;
  2. Works with the school district to identify students who may benefit from VR services and determines eligibility for VR services;
  3. Counsels students and their parents about career planning and employment related to the individualized education program (IEP) and engages the student in assessing post-school options;
  4. Advises students, parents and school staff during the transition planning regarding current labor market information, community resources and other community-based services, such as independent living centers;
  5. Contributes to the transition planning by communicating with school-based staff so that students, parents and school district staff can avail themselves of the VESID VR counselors' expertise in post-school options;
  6. Develops the Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE) prior to school exit which outlines the student’s employment goal and the services necessary to achieve the employment goal;
  7. Provides transition services if they are beyond the scope of special education and within the scope of VR services; and
  8. Provides employment-related services.


The policy is intended to ensure that students with disabilities have clear post-school plans and are engaged in postsecondary activities leading to employment. Policy training is underway for each of the VESID District Offices and will be completed this month.

The Model Transition Program (MTP) puts many aspects of the revised VR Transition Policy into practice:  specifically, the role of counselors, referral timeline, eligibility and VR services.  The MTP provides funding for 60 projects that include more than 150 private and public high schools to develop school-wide plans, activities and programs to facilitate the transition of students with disabilities to postsecondary placements.  These placements include college, vocational training programs and competitive employment with and without supports.  The primary goal of the MTP is to facilitate future employment opportunities for students with disabilities. At the end of this three-year project, successful transition strategies will be identified and shared with high schools throughout the State.  Over the projected three-year period of the MTP, over 12,000 students with disabilities will be made eligible for vocational rehabilitation programs and services. 


To assist in meeting the objectives of the MTP projects, SUNY Buffalo provides training in key areas in support of these activities.  Using data provided by the projects, Cornell University is working with VESID’s vocational rehabilitation administration to identify critical elements of the data collection, analysis and reporting processes.


During the first academic year, significant progress has been made in the implementation of transition activities, formation of partnerships, training, and data collection/analysis.  As reported by Cornell University, the MTP has generated extensive individual student data regarding participating student demographics, employment and postsecondary preparation, VESID referrals, and collaborative service delivery.  As of June 2008, a total of 9,454 students have received transition services via the MTP.  To date, more than 3,000 referrals have been made to VESID for VR services.  Specific MTP outcomes will be discussed at the December 2008 VESID Committee meeting as part of the Designing our Future report. 


What is the VESID VR College and University Training Policy?

In accordance with the VR College and University Training Policy, a variety of services related to college training for individuals with disabilities are provided by VESID.  Individuals with disabilities that require college training to achieve a specific employment goal described in their IEPs are eligible for services.  College training is a key VESID service that will enable individuals with disabilities to compete in the job market and earn competitive wages.


              The services include, but are not limited to, counseling and guidance, assessment, textbooks and materials, tuition assistance, room and board, tutorials, interpreting, and transportation.  Depending on the individuals financial resources, participation in the cost of services may be required.  VESID’s contribution is calculated after TAP, Pell, other grants and scholarships, and the individual’s financial resources are calculated.       


College training may take place at an accredited university, college, junior or community college, correspondence study or distance learning.  This includes SUNY, CUNY, independent and proprietary colleges and universities.  The number of individuals with disabilities supported by VESID for college training has significantly increased over the last four years.  Currently, 9,941 individuals with disabilities are receiving college training which is 18 percent of VESID’s active caseload. This is an increase of seven percent during the same period of time.


                            The CUNY Linking Employment, Academics, and Disability Services (LEADS) project incorporates many aspects of the VR College and University Training Policy.   Through this MOU, VESID and CUNY are collaborating to provide employment-related services to students with disabilities enrolled on designated CUNY campuses such as assessment, eligibility determination, financial assistance, academic support, career counseling and job placement.  To date, almost 600 referrals have been made.  A detailed CUNY LEADS update will be part of the Designing our Future presentation at the December VESID Committee meeting.


                            In the coming months, VESID VR transition and postsecondary initiatives will need to be reviewed for sustainability in light of fiscal constraints.




In the upcoming year, the Regents will discuss and make decisions on important policy issues that will have a significant impact on courses of study, transition planning and post-school outcomes for students with disabilities.  These include, but are not limited to:


  • The IEP diploma
  • Extension of the graduation Safety Net for students with disabilities
  • Career and Technical Education Programs and access to such programs by students with disabilities
  • Career and Diploma Standards and Objectives (CDOS)
  • Supporting a five year graduation rate for NCLB accountability























Attachment 1




Transition Coordination Sites



Western Region (Allegheny, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Niagara, Orleans) (Cattaraugus-Allegany-Erie-Wyoming BOCES, Erie I BOCES, Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES, Orleans-Niagara BOCES, Buffalo City Schools)


Address:          Western Transition Coordination Site

                            Erie 1 BOCES           

                            355 Harlem Road

                            West Seneca, NY  14224



Eastern Region (Albany, Columbia, Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Greene, Hamilton, Fulton, Lewis, Montgomery, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Schoharie, Warren, Washington, St. Lawrence

(Capital Region BOCES, Clinton-Essex-Warren-Washington BOCES, Franklin-Essex-Hamilton BOCES, Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES, Questar III BOCES, St. Lawrence-Lewis BOCES, Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES)


Address:          Eastern Transition Coordination Site

                            52B Hayes Road

                            Schroon Lake, NY  12870



Lower Hudson Valley (Broome, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Dutchess, Greene, Madison, Orange, Otsego, Putnam, Rockland, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester)
(Delaware-Chenango BOCES, Dutchess BOCES, Orange-Ulster BOCES, Otsego-Northern Catskills BOCES, Putnam-No. Westchester BOCES, Rockland BOCES, Sullivan BOCES SETRC, Ulster BOCES, Westchester 2 BOCES, Yonkers City Schools)


Address:          Hudson Valley Transition Coordination Site

                            Southern Westchester BOCES

                            2 Westchester Plaza

                            Elmsford, NY  10523





Mid-West Region: (Allegheny, Cayuga, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Orleans, Schuyler, Seneca, Steuben, Tompkins, Wayne, Wyoming, Yates) (Genesee Valley BOCES, Greater Southern Tier BOCES, Monroe 1 BOCES, Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES, Ontario-Seneca-Yates-Cayuga-Wayne BOCES, Rochester City Schools)


Address:          Mid-West Transition Coordination Site

                            Monroe 1 BOCES     

                            41 O’Connor Road

                            Fairport, NY  14450



Long Island (Nassau, Suffolk)

(Eastern Suffolk BOCES, Nassau County BOCES, Western Suffolk BOCES)


Address:          Long Island Transition Coordination Site

                            Eastern Suffolk BOCES        

‘                           Sherwood Corporate Center

                            15 Andrea Road, L-15

                            Holbrook, NY  11741



New York City (Bronx, Kings, New York, Queens and Richmond)

(New York City Schools)


Address:          Placement and Referral Center for Clients with Special Needs

                            145 Stanton Street

                            Room 223

                            New York, NY  10002



Mid-State (Broome, Cayuga, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Fulton, Jefferson, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Montgomery, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins)

(Broome-Delaware-Tioga BOCES, Cayuga-Onondaga BOCES, Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES, Jefferson-Lewis-Hamilton-Herkimer-Oneida BOCES, Madison-Oneida BOCES, Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES, Onondaga-Cortland-Madison BOCES, Oswego BOCES, Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES, Syracuse City Schools)


Address:             Mid-State Transition Coordination Site

                            Employment and Disability Institute

                            Cornell University

                            201 ILR Extension Building

                            Ithaca, NY  14853-3901


Attachment 2