Postsecondary Education & Employment Preparation

Postsecondary Education and Employment Preparation The purpose of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) is to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living. As the OSEP and RSA funded technical assistance and dissemination center focused on improving the postsecondary outcomes of students with disabilities, one of NTACT’s primary charges is to assist state and local agencies’ capacity to increase student access to, participation in, and success in (a) rigorous academic coursework and (b) career-related curricula designed to prepare students for postsecondary education and careers.

In 2009, through the work of the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC), Test, Mazzotti, et al. published a summary of high quality correlational literature to identify in-school factors that were predictors of post-school success. This manuscript and related materials were operationalized through a Delphi study (Rowe et al., 2014) and Predictor Implementation Self-Assessment (PDF version) was developed by the National Post-School Outcomes Center and the NSTTAC. This resource is intended to be completed by a team at the school, community, or state level as they examine the existence of programmatic predictors of post-school success in their current practices and procedures, as well as the quality of evidence. A companion document, Aligning EBPs and Predictors, is intended to assist a team or teacher as they move from identifying areas of need to selecting practices for implementation.

NSTTAC also identified evidence- and research-based practices to teach specific skills or promote specific practices associated with education and employment outcomes. These practices are identified in the Evidence-Based Practice Flyer, which links to Practice Descriptions, currently housed at NSTTAC’s website.


Rigorous Academic Preparation

The What Works in Transition Research Synthesis Project identified five evidence-based practices to teach academic skills for secondary students with disabilities in 2006. Practice descriptions from these findings are available.

Using Mnemonics to Teach Academic Skills

Using Peer Assistance to Teach Academic Skills

Using Self-Management to Teach Academic Skills

Using Technology to Teach Academic Skills

Using Visual Displays to Teach Academic Skills

NSTTAC and now NTACT are updating reviews of the literature regarding effective academic instruction in middle and high schools in specific content areas of English/Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. A summary of preliminary findings are available

Practices to Teach Academic Skills


Additional Resources

Resources on data-based decisions for intensifying interventions and identifying effective academic and behavioral interventions at the website of the National Center on Intensive Interventions

Resources on States’ initatives and an organizing framework for college and career readiness from the College and Career Readiness and Success Center at American Institutes for Research.


Career Development Resources

A frequent challenge or barrier to developing meaningful, quality work-based learning experiences for students are creating partnerships between schools, businesses, and other community partners. NTACT and TransCen, Inc. have developed A Guide to Developing Collaborative School-Community-Business Partnerships as a resource.

When planning activities and coursework in preparation for careers, practitioners may consider this timeline and the below definitions from Luecking’s (2009) The Way to Work.

Type of Work Based Learning Experience (WBLE) Definition
Career Exploration Career Exploration involves visits by youth to workplaces to learn about jobs and the skills required to perform them. Visits and meetings with employers and people in identified occupations outside of the workplace are also types of career exploration activities from which youth can learn about jobs and careers." (Luecking, 2009, p.13)
Job Shadowing "Job Shadowing is extended time, often a full workday or several workdays, spent by a youth in a workplace accompanying an employee in the performance of his or her daily duties." (Luecking, 2009, pg.13)
Job Sampling / Work Sampling "Work Sampling is work by a youth that does not materially benefit the employer but allows the youth to spend meaningful time in a work environment to learn aspects of potential job task and "soft skills" required in the workplace." (Luecking, 2009,p. 13)
Service Learning "Service Learning is hands-on volunteer service to the community that integrates with course objectives. It is astructured process that provides time for reflection on the service experience and demonstration of the skills and knowledge required." (Luecking, 2009, p. 13)
Internships "Internships are formal agreements whereby a youth is assigned specific tasks in a workplace over a predetermined period of time. Internships may be paid or unpaid, depending on the nature of the agreement with the company and the nature of the tasks." (Luecking, 2009, p.13)
Apprenticeships "Apprenticeships are formal, sanctioned work experiences of extended duration in which an apprentice learns specific occupational skills related to a standardized trade, such as carpentry, plumbing, or drafting. Many apprenticeships also include paid work components." (Luecking, 2009, p.13)
Paid Employment "Paid Employment may include existing standard jobs in acompany or customized work assignments that are negotiated with an employer, but these jobs always feature a wage paid directly to the youth. Such work may be scheduled during or after the school day. It may be integral to a course of study or simply a separate adjunctive experience." (Luecking, 2009,p.13)
Mentoring "Mentoring is a person who through support, counsel, friendship, reinforcement and constructive example helps another person, usually a young person, to reach his or her work and life goals. Mentoring relationships provide valuable support to W)ung people, especially those with disabilities, by offering not only academic and career guidance, but also effective role models for leadership, interpersonal and problem-solving skills. "(Office of Disability Employment Policy, 20 12)


Additional Resources

Resources on Career and Technical Education standards and career clusters at the website of the Association for Career and Technical Education

Additional guidance and resources on career development activities including work-based learning experiences are available at TransCen, Inc.

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