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Secondary Issues Archive 2006


Priscilla Harvell, M.A., CCC-SLP
Secondary and Speech/Language Specialist

Priscilla Harvell's expertise is supported by over 20 years in the field of Special Education as a Speech and Language Pathologist, Special Day Class Teacher and eight years as a Secondary Specialist for the Northern California Diagnostic Center.

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  • Creating sample transition goals.


Dear Priscilla,

We are attempting to create sample goals for our teachers for transition and post-secondary goals with objectives and benchmarks. Want to give the best information possible and would appreciate your advice. Do you have any tips? Also, do you have a sample?

Thanks so much, Gwen


Hi Gwen,

Here are some tips and resources to help you with this important endeavor: Transition to postsecondary adult life. I am familiar with your program and know the energy your teachers put forth. My advice is to look at the following resources for information to help prepare your students for the next, and most important, steps toward adulthood. You may be familiar with some of these, others may be new. The sample goals and benchmarks blend the IDEA 2004 Transition requirements and California State Standard expectations. Make sure the goals and benchmarks you develop are measurable and accountable and provide the following information.

  • WHO (student)
  • WHEN (date)
  • Does what (activity)
  • WHERE (location)
  • Criteria (percent)

Here are a few sample goals:

Independent Living Skills

By _______(date), ________(student) will acquire the necessary daily living skills to allow for independent functioning in a variety of environments by (benchmark)maintaining a well-groomed appearance and proper hygiene for 4/5 days at his/her job site.

Career awareness

By _______(date), ________(student) will identify and record his/her primary and secondary career goals in comparing the qualifications necessary for success in such occupations with his/her own abilities with 95% accuracy in Language Arts class.

By _______(date), ________(student) will complete a series of activities to prepare him/her for transition to employment and keep 4/5 vocationally related documents from the Regional Occupational Program in his/her career portfolio with 90% accuracy.


By ___ (date), ______ (student) will increase knowledge of general labor laws related to the employment of minors (e.g. work permits, hours of work, minimum wage and jobs permitted for minors) using the internet on 3 occasions in the school library.

Resources to explore include:

  • CARS+ Secondary Transition Goals (a companion document to Handbook Essential California Content Standards) 
    The sample goals focus on the areas of self-determination and advocacy, awareness, career preparation, work experience and community awareness and success.
  • The National Career Development Guidelines
    This tool focuses on preparing students with skills to transition to postsecondary training/jobs. There are links to classroom study and standards to future choices.
  • Reality Check (click on flash license plate) This web site is geared to high school students and older youth. It takes students through the reality of the finances (budgeting) related to life after high school. Students estimate costs for rent, utilities, transportation, entertainment, and other expenses of adult living. It is definitely a REALITY CHECK!

  • Transition for a student with Down Syndrome.


NOTE: This e-mail was sent to Dru Saren, Ask a Specialist Behavior Specialist, who referred it to me due to its Transition focus.


I attended your conference in San Francisco and I mentioned to you I was working with a Down Syndrome girl. We are now trying to make a strong program for her outside of the school setting. Do you have any suggestions for the type of services we should include? She is a delightful person with a great sense of humor. Because of the lack of intervention in the past, she has had some behavior issues that I have addressed as her behavior specialist. She is doing well in this area now, is working with a job coach (volunteer) at two sites, and is very successful. Please let me know of any suggestions you have to offer. Your input is greatly appreciated and respected.

Thanking you in advance,

Program Behavioral Specialist


Hi Loretta,

I am glad your student is doing better behaviorally and has two successful volunteer sites. She sounds like she is high school age so I will go with that premise. My question to you is, “What does your student want to do?” Is she interested in dancing, hiking, biking, gymnastics, or going to the movies with a peer? I often use aTransition Mapping activity to interview students about their interests, dreams, strengths, challenges, etc. to get information for student focused planning. This is where you should start. I have included examples of two Transition Planning Profiles that may work for you student. Other questions to ask your student and her family when planning community school activities are:

  • Will the program or service increase her independence?
  • How much support will she need to participate in the activity?
  • Will the program or service increase her daily living and social skills?
  • Are there barriers to participation, i.e., transportation, safety, etc.?

Since I do not know any specific information about your student, e.g., age, cognitive abilities, strengths, interests, or type of volunteer job, there are general services to consider. These resources/links will help you answer questions and locate information about activities that will lead to a better emotional well-being of your student.

Leisure resources:

  • Buddy Walk: Established by the National Down Syndrome Society to promote acceptance and inclusion of people with Down syndrome and to celebrate October, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month.

Teen site :

Club National Down Syndrome Society (has links in the following areas):

  • Self-advocac
  • Computer center (web safety)
  • Health issues
  • School and free time
  • Independent living
  • Stories from adolescents with Down Syndrome
  • Safety in the community

State and local resources:

In addition, you and her family should read Transition to Adult Living: A Guide to Secondary Education at This site highlights topics, links to other web sites of interest, and provides information, resources and support to parents, guardians and families of children with disabilities. You may order a free hard copy by contacting

Sonoma State University 
1801 East Cotati Avenue 
Rohnert Park , CA 94928-3609 
Tel: (707) 849-2275 
Fax: (707) 206-9176

I hope this information addressed your concerns. If not, contact me directly at

  • What trainings does the DCN offer on transition related curriculum/laws?


Hi Ms. Harvell,

Up to the end of last year, I taught elementary special education. This year, I will begin teaching at the high school level (SDC/LD class). My knowledge of local, state and the federal expectations in the area of Transition is so limited (almost nil). Could you tell me if the Diagnostic Center Northern California offers trainings on Transition related curriculum, laws, expectations, etc?

Thanks, Rose


Dear Rose,

Our training year is off and running as I type. This year our center offers the following trainings related to Transition:

  • “Working Smarter, Not Harder” – Secondary Teachers of Students with Learning Disabilities

This is an all day training with a focus on teaching educators’ information and strategies on core curriculum, Transition, and preparing students for life after high school.

  • Juggling the Demands of a Functional Secondary Curriculum: Teaching Students with Moderate to Severe Disabilities

This full day training prepares educators to connect Transition planning/activities with the daily curriculum and the California Alternate Performance Assessment (CAPA) Standards.

  • Middle and High School Transition Portfolios

This full day training provides teachers with the tools to develop Transition activities that align with the California State Standards.

  • The ABC’s of a Transition Functional Assessment Model (TFAM): Connecting Assessment to Transition Goals

This is a half-day training. Participants learn how to comply with IDEA 2004 Transition requirement related to the use of “appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate Transition assessment.”

In addition to these trainings, we offer the following web-based trainings:

This training is for families, secondary-aged students, school and agency staff

This training is an introduction to the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. Individuals visit this page to develop an understanding of the law, how it applies to educational programs and to students with disabilities.

Visit our DCN home page to see the additional trainings and services offered by our center.

Good luck this year!

  • What if a family does not want their child to do anything after high school?


Dear Ms. Harvell,

I am a special education teacher (9-12) in a very rural community. I have two problems when addressing transition with my students and their parents. The first problem is how I deal with aggressive parents who have demanded excessive modifications for their child (16 years old) through out his education and in turn have created a student that depends on others to do his work for him (parents). He is very unmotivated and expects everything to be given to him and though he could work at a grade appropriate level, he only works at a 6th grade level.

The parents have admitted that they have done too much for their child and now they and their child insist that their child will go to college and become a teacher / coach. Though they do not want any teacher to assign writing assignments unless totally necessary and technically nothing can be graded (spelling, grammar, etc.) Unfortunately, I really do not believe he can make it in college and I do not want his parents to try and sue me because his "transition" was not appropriate.


Next problem, what if the student / parents do not want their child to do anything? "He/she can just stay at home; my husband and I make enough money." I have already tried discussing the "what if something happened to you, independence, etc. Sorry this is so long.

Thank you,

Ms. Win-nell


Dear Ms. Win-nell,

What loaded questions! However, you are not the first teacher to deal with this parent issue. Often times, parents make demands without fully understanding the impact on their child’s future life/options. Because of this fact, you may not be successful solving every problem; however, congratulate yourself for tackling this issue rather than ignoring the problem. Do understand that your efforts may not be successful or appreciated. With that said, here are my responses to your concerns.

First concern : dealing with aggressive parents who have created a dependent, unmotivated adolescent

Now that your student is 16, the IDEA 2004 Transition requirement states that an Individual Transition Plan must be developed that includes measurable goals leading to independence. You must, therefore, sit down with the parents and your student and create a plan to address his/her needs. This means that everyone has a role and no amount of planning will be successful unless all the key players are on board. Here is some general information about your role as teacher and the role of the student, and his/her parents.

Teacher: Support your student by providing a variety of activities and experiences that help him/her think/talk about future possibilities. Ongoing conversations could focus on how school (activities and curriculum) connects to work; what your student wants to do after high school; how to problem solve and make choices; and exploration of future living, community access/activities, and laws that protect individuals with disabilities.

Student: Be prepared to identify his/her dreams, goals, interests, and preferences during the IEP meeting. To do this, students needs many opportunities to learn about themselves and the world of work (complete learning style inventories; identify favorite school subjects; participate in career exploration; and listen to guest speakers to learn about different careers).

Parents: Help their child identify dreams, goals, interests, and preferences by talking about future goals; identify activities that help their child accomplish these goals; talk to their child about needed supports (accommodations, people); and involve their child in various community activities (social events, work experiences, recreation/leisure).

You can find more information in the book Transition to Adult Living: A Guide for Secondary Education. It can be downloaded (156 pages) at This resource highlights topics and links from other sections that are of particular interest and will provide information, resources and support to families of children with disabilities.

Second concern : parents do not want their child to do anything after high school

If the parents are adamant that their child will live with them after high school, there may not be much you can do. However, be sure that you document your efforts through an IEP/ITP. Make sure the IEP/ITP reflects how you and the school district have met your student’s Transition needs in the areas of instruction, community experience, related services, development of employment activities, and daily living skills if appropriate.

Before their child exits your program, ask the parents to think about the following questions:

  • Have they included their child in this decision? What does HE/SHE want?
  • Is it fair to deny their child the right to be as independent as he/she can be in the future?
  • What is their REAL concern? Do they REALLY understand the nature of their child’s disability? Are they afraid he/she will fail to be successful?
  • What happens if they (parents) incur major health problems that exhaust their financial resources? Who will provide health care for their adult “child”?
  • Have they consulted with a financial planner and/or written a will/trust that provides for their adult “child” after their demise? This includes estate planning, finding the right lawyer or knowledgeable financial planner, wills, special-needs trusts, conservator or guardianship, government benefits, savings options, insurance plans, and other available resources.

I am sure you have done all you can to educate these parents. You probably have other issues/areas to explore, but these questions may start them to begin thinking that their child deserves the opportunity to develop his/her own life, interests, and goals.

Good luck!

  • How is "training" different from "education"?


Hi Priscilla,

This question was asked to me at the last meeting of SELPA transition meeting!

What is meant by “Training” on the new State Individual Transition Plan (ITP) forms? AND how is that different from “Education”?


CT :)


Hi CT,

Good question. You are not the first person to inquire about the difference and/or definition between “Training” and “Education” in the IDEA 2004 Transition regulations. In my search for an answer, I first checked the wording in IDEA 2004 Transition law. It says:

“ (aa) appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills;

(bb) the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals; and…” Part B: Section 614, (d) (1) (A) (VIII) (aa)

One source I checked was Lozano-Smith, Attorneys at Law at They have a long-standing relationship with educators and provide information on legal issues faced by school districts from the classroom to the courtroom and beyond. Lozano-Smith are not anymore specific than IDEA 2004 regs. In addition, I contacted their office and spoke with one of their attorneys who indicated the term “training” is more related to vocational training, e.g., hands on work assignments etc. and “education” relates to instruction, e.g., more the academics/course of study.

I have had over eleven years working in the area of Transition (DCN Secondary Specialist, co-authored a Middle and High School Transition Portfolio, and ongoing communication with others who work with middle and high school students.). Therefore, I am providing you with my understanding of the two terms:

  • Training – this term refers to vocational programs, such as Regional Occupational Programs (ROP), vocational training, WorkAbility Programs, on the job training, school work experience options, and volunteer work.
  • Education – this term refers to the course of study options (academics and/or functional academics) that the IEP/ITP team, students and parents select when planning for post-secondary activities. The plan includes required college prep classes/electives, and two year community college programs, vocational classes, and various private technical programs. Education can also focus on preparing students to enter the job market immediately after high school.

Additional information about IDEA 2004 can be found on the US Dept of Education website:

Good luck!

  • Resources for ideas and strategies for parents to help with transition.


Hi, Priscilla,

I recently held an IEP meeting for a student who will be going to high school next year. The parents had a lot of questions regarding preparing their child for this huge change starting NOW. The student struggles with changes and often becomes extremely anxious, and this often leads to highly unsafe behaviors (leaving campus, making verbal threats, drawing/writing threats toward staff & peers). Can you please give some steps/ideas/strategies to share with the parents and their child to help them make this transition smoother. The parents request that ALL teachers who will be involved in educating their child next year be present at the transition meeting at the end of the year.


I agree that the transition to high school can be challenging and riddled with anxiety, especially for student with special needs. High schools are typically impersonal, larger, more academically challenging, and possibly lacking in social support. However, the transition from your student’s current school to high school can be smoother and seamless is you consider the following suggestions.

  • Make several pre-visits to the high school prior to the student’s enrollment.
  • One visit should be to meet the student’s new teacher (case manager) or if student’s IEP meeting is in the spring, invite the new teacher (case manager) from the high school to attend.
  • Prepare the student for the first day so that he/she knows where to go and who to see. This preparation should be more extensive than the usual preparation that is done for incoming freshman.
  • Have the student shadow a current ninth grader at the high school. This will require the cooperation and approval of the high school student to be the student’s mentor for part of or the entire school day.
  • Another option is to have the student connect with a classmate from his/her middle school so that the two of them can experience the newness of the high school together.
  • Most important, involve the student in the planning for transition to high school. Have him/her tell you what he/she needs and encourage him/her to participate in the selection of his/her classes.
  • Set up ahead of time those individuals who will be the student’s social supports: i.e. principal; school counselor; teacher (case manager), etc. With permission, the student may be able to take pictures with each of these individuals.
  • Involve the student in future meetings that pertain to his/her schooling. Have him/her take more responsibility in his/her school goals and expectations.
  • Set a meeting, either prior to or immediately after the student’s transition to high school, where all (or as many of his/her teachers as possible) are provided a mini inservice. Communicate who the student is, e.g., his/disability, strengths, challenges, accommodations, and interests. This way, any miscommunications between the student, teachers, and those who provide direct/indirect services will be minimal. For individuals who cannot attend this meeting, develop a one page fast facts sheet similar to the example below:

Fast Facts Matrix for (student’s name here)

Getting to know (student’s name here)

Ideas to help (student’s name here) transition to high school

Planning Instructions for (student’s name here)

Other information about (student’s name here)

I have included some resources for the family because your student cannot make this transition without the family actively participating in the process. The school should not be left alone to provide this major change.

Good luck!

Parent Resources
Ten Tips to help prepare Students for High School 
From the Public School Parent’s Network maintained and published by parents to serve as an information and resource guide.
Transition from School to Adult Life 
For parents to learn about the next major transition in their and their child’s life after high school. Knowing this information may circumvent some of the anxieties that exist with the student’s current transition/change issues.



  • Teaching LD kids in a general inclusion program.


Hi Priscilla,

What are some sources for great ideas for regular education teachers who have Learning Disabled (LD) kids in their classes? I teach 6th graders in a general inclusion program.

Thanks, Kim Loquaci


Hi Kim,

I remember you from one our recent trainings “Thinking Smarter, Not Harder”. You all were a GREAT, hard working group.

Now to answer your question, I do have a few resources that might be useful. They cover not only 6 th graders, but through middle and some high school. Let me know if you find them useful.


Resource list

  • Quick-Guides to Inclusion I, II and III - Ideas for Educating Students with Disabilities by Michael F. Giangreco, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company, P.O. Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285

This guide includes the following content which may be useful for teachers with fully included students. These students are packaged deals, e.g. parents, paraprofessionals, support services, and behavioral supports.

Quick-Guide #1: Including Students with Disabilities in the Classroom
Michael F. Giangreco

Quick-Guide #2: Building Partnerships with Parents
Linda A. Davern

Quick-Guide #3: Creating Partnerships with Paraprofessionals
Mary Beth Doyle and Patricia A. Lee

Quick-Guide #4: Getting the Most Out of Support Services
Michael F. Giangreco, Susan W. Edelman, Ruth E. Dennis, Patricia A. Prelock, and Chigee J. Cloninger

Quick-Guide #5: Creating Positive Behavioral Supports
Barbara J. Ayres and Deborah L. Hedeen

  • Rief, S. F., Heimburge, J. A.; How To Reach & Teach All Students in the Inclusive Classroom : Ready-to-Use Strategies Lessons & Activities Teaching Students with Diverse Learning Needs.


  • Teaching a high school resource class about advocacy skills.


Dear Priscilla,

I would like to teach my high school resource class about advocacy skills. They get “bored” with what I (and other adults in their lives) have to say. Are there any websites that are student friendly, i.e., articles by students with disabilities, available that are safe for browsing? Thanks for any help you have to offer.



Hi Pam,

Your request is very timely! In the Autumn 2005 issue of The Special Edge, the focus is on Behavior Programs for Older Students: What’s Helpful in Secondary School. There are articles dealing with issues that teens encounter daily such as peer relationships, emotional/health concerns, drugs and alcohol, safety, sex education, work, etc. There is one section titled, For Teens Only! Resources, which list websites, books, and hotlines to help teens get through life. Website subsections include: Physical Health, Emotional Health, Disabilities, Identity, Giving Back, and eMagazines. The list below highlights a couple of the websites under the disabilities subsection. Note: All messages are monitored for safety and appropriateness.

Ability Online Support Network lets teens log on and meet mentors, role models, and friends.

Best Buddies connects non-disabled and students with cognitive disabilities. I observed a successful Best Buddies program and it not only works for the students with disabilities but teaches their non-disabled peers how to develop tolerance, friendships, and self-esteem.

Kids as Self-Advocates offers ideas to students with disabilities on how to become leaders and learn advocacy strategies.

  • Another teen self-advocacy website I recently reviewed is called Activteen located at Activteen is the disability central department managed by and for teens with disabilities. This is an online cyber community where students can socialize, educate one another and just have fun together.

Let me know how you and your students like this information. Encourage your students to submit a comment or question to me at our Ask a Specialist webpage as an initial step toward their self-advocacy development.

  • Providing transitional services for the population in the 'gap'.


Dear Priscilla,

I have recently been asked to help develop a criteria rubric for a program we are developing in our district. We have a Young Adult Program for students who are mildly cognitively impaired. This is geared toward graduation using an objective-based curriculum. However, there are many in the community who are functioning at a level too low for this program and too high for another in our district. Also, there are those who have graduated from there local district but have not transitioned into the "real world." Some are drop-outs wanting to return to school and have no place within their district. Ideally, we would like to provide transitional services for the population who fits within this 'gap'. Are you aware of any models of criteria that might help us determine who should qualify? We thought about basing it on an adaptive scale. What are your thoughts?



Dear Liz,

This is a universal and systemic problem for many educators who teach special education, e.g., “What to do with the students who do not fit into the box.”

I think your question is “Are there models of criteria for students who fit the following profiles?”

  • Function at a level too low for one district program and too high for another;
  • Graduated but have not transitioned into the “real world”;
  • Drop-outs wanting to return to school without an appropriate district program that meets their needs.

I thought it might be better to answer your question by providing contacts with individuals who have developed student criteria for their programs and work with students on a daily basis. Please contact the individuals in the model programs, including Keith Storey, and read the resource texts for current best practices.

Let me know if this information works and if I can be of further assistance to you.

Priscilla H.

Model programs

  1. Mendocino County Office of Education offers a Transition Partnership Program (TPP) and WorkAbility I program located in Ukiah, California. The contact is Carol Kuhling Barrett - WorkAbility I Director. You can reach Carol via the following:
  1. Monterey County Office of Education’s 18-22 Transition Program

Although this is a program for students who may be more involved, the staff is super and should be able to offer you some GREAT tips. The students’ disability levels range from moderate to severe and from independent to interdependent. Students participate at their ability levels in the community as they go to work (independently using public transportation), attend Monterey Community College (independently), and partake in leisure activities.

Contacts: Catherine Hynes – (831) 373-3266

Richard (RJ) Adams – (831) 373-3478

  1. Cotati/Rohnert Park Unified School District

The special education middle and high schools in this district participated in the DCN Transition Portfolio project and developed many additional activities to motivate and help their students prepare for postsecondary options. Often times it takes curriculum that lets students know that academic and work learning go hand in hand. The following teachers may be able to give you ideas for your criteria:

Contacts: Sandy Bartholome ( Mt. Shadows Middle School)


Cherly Patnaik ( Rancho Cotate High School)



  1. Keith Story, Ph.D., 
    Associate Professor of Education
    Chapman University 
    2600 Stanwell Drive, #110 
    Concord , CA 94520

Phone: (925) 246-6128

Keith has developed and received grants that focus on preparing students with moderate to severe disabilities for adult living and may be one of your best contacts.


  • Best and Promising Practices in Developmental Disabilities by Alan Hilton and Ravic Ringlaben; ProEd, Austin, TX.

Life Skills Practice is one of my favorite resources. It offers many ideas for preparing students for life after high school. Specifically for the “between” students you mention in your question. This extensive book provides hundreds of real life, hands on scenarios/activities to encourage student self-confidence in dealing with a numerous everyday situations. This comprehensive program is suitable for individuals with varying levels of ability, and is written in a simple, user-friendly format.

  • Life Centered Career Education (LCCE) – revised edition 2004

LCCE teaches teachers to prepare students to function independently and productively as family members, citizens, and workers, and to enjoy fulfilling personal lives. The main components are 1) Daily Living Skills, 2) Personal-Social Skills, and 3) Occupational Guidance and Preparation. LCCE is a motivating and effective classroom, home, and community-based curriculum. LCCE also includes IEP goals and objectives and three types of assessment devices: rating scales, standardized knowledge batteries, and performance batteries. Three major elements distinguish the LCCE Curriculum: competencies, stages of career development, and instructional settings.