Preparing Students with Significant Disabilities to Transition to College and Careers

This session will be moderated by Mary Morningstar, Associate Professor, Department of Special Education, University of Kansas.


TASH Transition Town Hall

Preparing Students with Significant Disabilities to Transition to College and Careers

Students with significant disabilities are least likely to successfully transition to an inclusive adult life. This town hall will focus on critical policies, research and strategies needed to ensure implementation of quality college and career school interventions. In addition, a critical focus on extended transition services for young adults aged 18-21. This town hall will review current issues and effective strategies for improvements.


Topic 1: School and Work-based Experiences, Preparing Students with Significant Disabilities for Successful Transitions to College and Careers


Diane Ryndak, University of North Carolina Greensboro

Dr. Ryndak will discuss issues associated with aligning inclusive educational experiences that prepare students for postschool outcomes. In particular, how inclusion in academic classes ensures students will learn 21st Century skills needed for adulthood and why focusing on a functional life skills curriculum creates barriers to inclusive education experiences and is does not lead to more successful adult outcomes.

Amy Dwyer, TransCen

Ms. Dwyer will discuss the critical aspects of work-based learning for ensuring students are career ready. She will share models of inclusive work-based learning experiences for students with significant disabilities and as well as address critical issues facing schools to support effective and evidence-based work-based learning programs that lead to inclusive employment outcomes.


Topic 2: Extended Transition Services: Models of College and Career Readiness for Students Aged 18-25 Years Old.

Rich Luecking, TransCen

Dr. Luecking will discuss seamless transitions to adulthood with evidence of highly effective models for ensuring that students with significant disabilities are employed postschool. A focus will include curricular models as well as issues associated with essential policies and gaps that must be bridged to ensure community support for inclusive transition services.

Barbara Guy, Iowa Department of Education

Dr. Guy will discuss secondary accountability and OSEP’s SSIP compliance and performance measures. She will describe strategies for ensuring that secondary transition performance metrics are not left behind. Consideration of issues for merging special education and general education accountability measures during secondary school programs will be shared.

Becky Garland and David Haennle

The focus will be on a family and individual perspectives of the critical need for inclusive postsecondary college experiences for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Becky and David will share the importance college readiness and college experiences for students with significant disabilities and discuss issues related to promoting college readiness throughout secondary school programs.

Topic 3: The Importance of Parental Expectations on Transition Outcomes


Debra Jennings, Center for Parent Information and Resources

Ms. Jennings will discuss the role of parent training and information centers in establishing culturally relevant and high expectations for transition to adulthood. She will emphasize family-centered practices that are vital throughout a child’s educational career and into transition. Issues associated with barriers to family engagement in transition will be discussed.


Erik Carter, Vanderbilt University 

Dr. Carter will discuss what current research suggests related to improving parental expectations and engagement during the transition to adulthood. He will describe the impact of professionals in shaping high expectations and the barriers systems create when interacting with families during transition.

Cathy Constanzo, CRP

Ms. Constanzo will discuss the systemic barriers families face when approaching transition to adulthood for students with significant disabilities. She will present critical issues related to promoting high expectations and the need for federal systems to support alternatives to guardianship and financial resources such as SSI and SSDI.

Invited Federal Panel

  1. Moderated By: Michael Yudin, Acting Assistant Secretary, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services
  2. Marlene Simon-Burroughs, Associate Division Director, Secondary/Trans/Post Secondary, Office of Special Education Programs
  3. Rhonda Basha, Youth Policy Advisor Team Lead, Office of Disability Employment Policy
  4. Bob Williams, Associate Commissioner, Office of Employment Support Programs