Florida Talks Transition!
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.
April 27, 2009 Miami (FDLRS South)
April 28, 2009 Ft. Myers (Lee County Public
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)
4:30-5:45 School personnel
Agency personnel and
6:00-7:15 Parents and family member
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
Patrick Mulvihill Project TEN Miami, Ft. Myers, Tampa
Heather Mack Project TEN Viera
Kristine Webb University of North Florida Miami, Ft. Myers, Tampa
Chipley, Jacksonville, Viera
Participants Number of
School personnel 54
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
Postsecondary Education and Training
Categories (student involvement)
Nodes or themes
Learning about transition…
Learning about transition…
How Agencies/Schools would like to
(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
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-
Focus Group Sample Commentary
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
School We need to teach self-determination, step by
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 Everybody needs to set goals, and then work
I need the opportunity to have my say.
You should do the work and know how to
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
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
Colleges don’t care—what you get in high school, you don’t get in
It’s useful for special diploma kids for agencies
Parents and students think they can take this to college and get
Better connect with the parent on what it can get you.
Team Members in Transition and
IEPs should include:
Team Members in Transition:
Agencies and Caretakers
Sample Commentary about agency attendance and
We do attend-- all the time, unless there is a conflict
Our agency wants to attend if they know what our
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
Information is disseminated/but not at the
beginning of the year.
Resource, Time and Personnel Shortages
I have 9 different schools
The sheer numbers of IEPs held at the same time – in early
There’s not enough agency staff to cover all of our
Information overload; agencies change their way of doing
Agencies are interested, but due to numbers, they can’t be at
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
(a) Student-focused practices,
(b) unfriendly environment,
(c) lack of information, and
(d) lack of time/resources.
―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!‖
Students with Disabilities Who Drop
Out of School.
Lack of options or opportunities
Over-emphasis on academic standards
Lack of support
Lack of self-determination
Thoughts from school personnel:
students who drop out
There’s no opportunity for vocational education. It’s too academic
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
Barriers to Employment
Lack of opportunities or community support
Lack of resources for career exploration or
Adequate time for career exploration or
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
They need role models from family and friends (Agency
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
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
My school doesn’t offer much in that (Student).
What worries you the most about employment after graduation?
Sample Student commentary:
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
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
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
Parents don’t always know ―who‖ they want.