Florida Talks Transition! Focus Groups Chipley Jacksonville Viera Tampa Ft. Myers Miami The goal of the focus groups was to obtain the following information: • preferred communication style of students with disabilities, family members, agency personnel-caregivers, and school personnel; • current methods of receiving information; • perceptions of students with disabilities, family members, and agency personnel/caregivers, and school personnel’s involvement in transition as it is or should be; • factors that contribute to dropout, graduation, employment, and postsecondary education and training; and • supports needed for effective family involvement. The Sites April 27, 2009 Miami (FDLRS South) April 28, 2009 Ft. Myers (Lee County Public Education Center) April 29, 2009 Tampa (Manhattan Center) May 6, 2009 Chipley (PAES) May 18, 2009 Jacksonville (Schultz Center) May 19, 2009 Viera/Brevard County (Educational Services Facility) The Schedule… 4:30-5:45 School personnel Agency personnel and caretakers 6:00-7:15 Parents and family member Students The Facilitators… Professional Affiliation Facilitated at sites: Joyce Lubbers BEESS: FL DOE Chipley, Jacksonville, Viera Sheila Gritz BEESS: FL DOE Miami, Ft. Myers, Chipley Jordan Knab Project TEN Miami, Ft. Myers, Tampa Jacksonville, Viera Patrick Mulvihill Project TEN Miami, Ft. Myers, Tampa Chipley, Jacksonville Heather Mack Project TEN Viera Kristine Webb University of North Florida Miami, Ft. Myers, Tampa Chipley, Jacksonville, Viera The Participants… Participants Number of participants Agency/Caretakers 29 Parents/Families 32 School personnel 54 Students 14 Other 7 TOTAL participants 136 Ethnic Identities of Participants… Focus Group Instrument… Statement of Purpose and Introductions Receiving Current Information about Transition Preferred Communication about Transition Parent/Family Involvement in Transition Student Involvement in Transition Drop-out Issues and Graduation Employment Postsecondary Education and Training Closing Remarks The Results… NVivo8 Categories (student involvement) Nodes or themes Learning about transition… Learning about transition… How Agencies/Schools would like to disseminate information… (a) outreach to students and families, (b) utilization of print materials, (c) utilization of electronic media, and (d) IEP information and involvement. Parents/Students want to learn by: Transition Process/IEP development Age When Transition Should Begin Agency Personnel School Personnel Parents/families Students Age Birth-early childhood 7.5% 11% 8% Elementary school 23% 45% 50% 29% Middle School 31% 33% 34% High School 31% 11% 71% Through Adulthood 7.5% When diagnosed 8% How to improve transition: Student- Focused Planning Focus Group Sample Commentary members Agency Personnel We need face-to-face planning meetings Students need in-school presentations about agencies so they are able to plan better. Give students the power to speak and run it. We should ask students ahead of time to think about positive things about themselves. The IEP needs to be discussed, not dictated. We need to talk about the IEP in terms of a living document, report progress and outcomes, how they are progressing. This can’t be confined to one meeting. Is the IEP in an accessible format or in a language they know? The IEP is already done when the student walks in—not right! Train kids in the transition IEP process before the IEP meeting. We need student input and interviews. The student should have pre-meetings with teachers. Always speak with the student directly. Students need self-directed IEPs. Parents and Families Parents My child identified what she wanted to do—on computer. She does every year-(laugh), then she changes her mind. Let the student choose courses—choose mainstream or other settings. Please treat them like everyone else. Everyone should be prepared ahead of time— interests and options for post-school. This helps everyone to be better prepared. Ask about what the child is interested in. Focus on interests and let that direct schooling. Allow student choice, but also allow consequences of those choices. School Personnel School We need to teach self-determination, step by Personnel step. One student ran his entire meeting! All of us need to be open to the process – the focus is on the student. Students should invite their own participants. Students Students Everybody needs to set goals, and then work on them. I need the opportunity to have my say. You should do the work and know how to work. I’m the only one who knows what I want. Summary of Performance: What Participants Know about SOPs Focus Group Participants Level of Participation Sample Comments: Agency Personnel Low Just heard about it on Friday Some schools are doing a measurable postschool outcome. SOP? I need a complete description. Haven’t gotten one yet. Parents/Families Low SOP? SOP? Have I participated in this? No, but probably before the exit IEP. Summary of Performance: What Participants Know about SOPs School Personnel Medium The Transition teacher completes that. Ours is complete with students folder, inc assessment etc. We do that through ―STAR.‖ Some are doing a better job with the SOP. It varies from school to school. We complete that at the exit IEP—It’s just one more thing! Agencies won’t look at them. I’m surprised to learn that many are just learning about it. We met in Tampa and learned more about put it together, and we’re doing something easy this year. It profiles student strengths and the accommodations needed. Districts initially held off. The national document on that is 8 pages! Students filled out the major areas of it. I’d like to use the national student input model. Staffing specialists make sure teachers do. I question the value of it. Community colleges and universities don’t take it. Colleges don’t care—what you get in high school, you don’t get in college. It’s useful for special diploma kids for agencies Parents and students think they can take this to college and get something—they can’t! Better connect with the parent on what it can get you. Team Members in Transition and IEPs should include: Students/clients Parents Agency Personnel Teachers Team Members in Transition: Agencies and Caretakers Sample Commentary about agency attendance and involvement: We do attend-- all the time, unless there is a conflict Our agency wants to attend if they know what our attendance means. By the time the students reach 17 to 18, agencies should be there. APD has fewer case workers & we get to all IEPs Sometimes if there are conflicts I telephone parent I know it’s important. Interagency Council helps with information. Sample Commentary about Specific Barriers to Agency Involvement Lack of communication and/or collaboration: The schools need to contact agencies earlier. I am not invited. I get such short notice from the schools. Some schools are excellent about communicating agency information; some are not Information is disseminated/but not at the beginning of the year. Barriers: Agency Resource, Time and Personnel Shortages I have 9 different schools The sheer numbers of IEPs held at the same time – in early spring There’s not enough agency staff to cover all of our responsibilities. Information overload; agencies change their way of doing things. Agencies are interested, but due to numbers, they can’t be at all IEPs. Schools need to set-up IEPs back to back so agencies can stay one day. What are the barriers to parent involvement in the transition process and IEP development? Responses were categorized under the following themes: (a) Student-focused practices, (b) unfriendly environment, (c) lack of information, and (d) lack of time/resources. Common theme: ―Information needs to be in a central place. One publication to tell us options. ― ―I would like a centralized transition agency-just too many places to go!‖ Student Involvement Student Involvement Students with Disabilities Who Drop Out of School. Lack of options or opportunities Over-emphasis on academic standards Lack of support Life pressures/choices Lack of self-determination Thoughts from school personnel: students who drop out There’s no opportunity for vocational education. It’s too academic (School personnel). Vocational classes are closed to students with a special diploma in some districts (School personnel). It’s relevancy—they are getting standardized curriculum and benchmarks, when they need real life skills (School personnel). There is no opportunity to access technical education and learn something they are good at (School personnel). If a student is not successful academically, they must do remediation, and that knocks out electives. It’s mandated (School personnel). They don’t participate in extra-curricular activities (School personnel). There’s a lack of vocational and technical programs (School personnel). Barriers to Employment Lack of opportunities or community support Lack of resources for career exploration or employment Adequate time for career exploration or employment preparation Lack of preparation or information about career exploration or employment Lack of opportunities Jobs are limited; they’re just not there and these aren’t jobs for or community support Intellectual Disabled students (Agency personnel). You have to have companies in the community willing to work with job coaches (Agency personnel). Lots of problems…businesses don’t want job coaches on site, and there are workman’s compensation issues (Agency personnel). They need role models from family and friends (Agency personnel). Changes in management can be a challenge (Parent). There are limited options in our community (Parent). There’s such a focus on state testing and remediation that they don’t have opportunities for career exploration, especially on a standard diploma (Parent). Standard diploma kids don’t get opportunities to explore (School personnel). Schools do not want work experience to get in the way of academics (School personnel). There is no time in their schedules for exploration, especially if they are in so many remediation classes (School personnel). I haven’t got a chance to job shadow, but I want to do it (Student). My school doesn’t offer much in that (Student). What worries you the most about employment after graduation? Sample Student commentary: My disability. How well the job pays bills. I will need to make payments on time. Just getting started. What do I do when I get in? I need people to get me going. I don’t know what to expect. I never worked, but I volunteered Getting stuck in a dead-end job, like minimum wage. Having job satisfaction, and communication. Income, the kind of job The economy going down. Having work clothes. What do you worry about when you think about students attending college or training programs? Lack of information about college or training school requirements Lack of knowledge: disabilities and needed supports: postsecondary personnel Lack of student preparation Lack of student self-advocacy and independence Barriers for Agencies Inadequate understanding of agencies’ role and support Students are not coming to the table with enough information about their disability and the accommodations they need. One of the biggest gaps, I think is understanding adult responsibility vs. school; they have to follow through with agencies (families). They don’t see the school’s role ending. 100% of students are referred to V.R. , but 98% are non- compliant. There’s just no follow through. Parents who have been involved think that agencies haven’t done anything. Parents don’t always know ―who‖ they want.
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