CA Dept. of Education


On Haitus

Secondary Issues Archive 2014


Linda Sanguinetti
Education Specialist

Linda Sanguinetti, M.A., is an Education Specialist at the Diagnostic Center- Northern California. She has twenty five years of special education teaching experience at the elementary and high school levels serving student with a variety of needs. Currently at the Diagnostic Center she participates in multidisciplinary assessment teams and works with several high school classrooms helping to implement evidence based practices. She also conducts trainings in the area of Transition.


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Click a topic below to expand the full question and answer.

  • Career Exploration


Can you recommend resources that will provide my students with the opportunity to explore different types of jobs/careers?


There are many resources that will provide your students with the opportunity to examine their career choices. One that I would like to highlight is the California Career Resource Network (Cal CRN).

CalCRN is associated with the California Department of Education and provides very helpful and useful career development information and resources to help your students reach their career goals. CalCRN’s resources are available for everyone! (Students, parents/guardians, educators)

  • Californa Career Zone is a web-based career exploration system that is available free of charge. Users can learn about themselves by using an easy to use career assessment tool and by reading information on over 900 California occupations. This site includes an interest survey titled Assess Yourself that helps to identify strengths. A workbook is available to provide student support in navigating this section. Related occupations can be explored in the Explore Job Families section. Videos, education requirements, wages, job outlook and skills needed are covered. The section called, Make Money Choices, explores money needed to pay for housing, transportation, food, clothing, etc.
  • Career Surfer is CalCRN’s mobile application that can be downloaded for free from AppStore or Google Play. Basic information about the 900 occupations detailed on the California CareerZone is available.

California Career Resource Network has several other resources that may be beneficial to your students. Some will help with developing a person career action plan and another is a classroom based career exploration tool. I recommend that you take the time to check out the website.

Thanks for your question.


  • Video Resume


How do I prepare my students with intellectual disabilities for competetive employment opportunities?


This is a very important question that has received national attention. In October, 2013, Governor Brown signed AB1041 which established the statute called, Employment First Policy. This Policy states that opportunities for integrated, competitive employment will be given the highest priority for working age individuals with developmental disabilities, regardless of the severity of their disabilites.

For some students, a written resume is not an effective tool to share information with prospective employers. It doesn’t really reflect who they are. One way to showcase job skills is with a video resume. A video resume is a great way to demonstrate what your student can do within a work site in order to gain integrated competitive employment. A video resume lets the employer literally see your student’s communication skills, personality, attention to task, and job skills before an interview takes place.

Ann Sebek, Job Developer for Irvine Unified School District recently presented at a statewide conference: California Institute on Secondary Transition. She shared many of video resumes that she created with her students, which can be viewed on YouTube.

She suggested the following tips when creating video resumes:

  • Buy the iMovie APP on your iPhone or iPad.
  • Buy “Prep for iMovie” to learn the program.
  • Visit training site of your participant and take 6-10 short video clips during their work or training experience.
  • Keep the video length to about 3-4 minutes.
  • Add music and a voice over.
  • Upload to YouTube or Vimeo and email to prospective businesses.

Thanks for a great question.


  • Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination


What suggestions can I make to families to build self-advocacy and self-determination skills at home?


To answer this question, I would like to refer you to a great article that recently came out in The Special EDge (Autumn 2014). The article, Supporting Students as Active Partners in Their Own Education- Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination, focuses on supporting students at an early age to become independent and capable adults.

Many teachers have shared with me that waiting for the Individual Transition Plan (ITP) to begin is much too late in preparing students for their future. I totally agree! This article takes this idea even further, stating that we should “Start at birth!” The simple act of answering questions, making choices and reflecting on what worked/what didn’t, at an early age, is a great start to building independence at home.

Additional suggestions from the article:

  • Don’t answer when children or students are asked a question. Let them speak for themselves.
  • Encourage appropriate assertiveness, a confident voice, and appropriate volume. Encourage a shy child or a child with a timid voice to speak bravely; help a child tone down a voice that’s too loud.
  • Encourage your child to express his or her needs appropriately; this includes helping a child learn his or her rights - to be informed but not to feel entitled.
  • Teach your child to say a polite but firm “No thank you” to unneeded help.

The Special EDge is a free publication that comes out three times a year. If you don’t already subscribe, I highly recommend that you do! By going to CalSTAT’s web site- - you can download this and previous newsletters.

Many thanks for your question. I hope that this article will inspire your parents and colleagues to think about ways to empower students at any age.


  • Transition assessment


Where can I get information about the best transition assessment tools to use for my for students? My students have a range of disabilities and I would love to have a list of easy-to-use tools at my fingertips.


There are many ways to assess the transition needs of your students. To make the process meaningful for them, you want to get your students involved as much as possible. Consider tools that provide opportunities for reflection, exploration and preparation.

Instead of listing the various standard and informal assessment tools that are available (this would be an extensive list!) I’d like to take the opportunity to share a valuable resource that shares many best practices in the area of quality transition planning and preparation. The California Transition Alliance,, is an organization that supports youth-serving professionals who assist youth and families as they transition from secondary education to adult life. In their resource, “Transition Planning: The Basics”, The California Transition Alliance suggests the following pointers when choosing career/vocational assessments:

  • Is it easy for the student to use?
  • Is it age/grade appropriate? Can students relate to language?
  • Does it stereotype career choices?
  • Is it easy to read and interpret? (does it assess interests or reading skills)?
  • Does it provide feedback that leads to reflection?
  • Does it enhance insights?
  • Does it reflect the current and emerging job market?

Some of the Most Common and Easily Accessed Assessment Resources

California Career Resource Network (CalCRN)
California Career Zone
California Career Planning Guide Career Surfer Mobil App

Drive of Your Life
(Online career exploration game for middle school and high
school students to learn about themselves and their future.)

Casey Life Skills (Rates life skills)

Transition Health Care Checklist

Two CA Sites that received national recognition for career development resources for youth with disabilities

TIPs for Success Personal Data Wizard

O’NET- (a National databank of career information)

Employment Development Department (EDD) Labor Market Information Work Smart Occupational Guides Local job information

A fun new way to develop a resume

Resources for Individuals with ID/DD:

E Jam Environmental Assessment

How I want to Spend My Time
Skills for Paying the Bills Curriculum


California Career Briefs offer career assessment, career exploration activities and career curriculum resources.

I hope that you will be able to find an assessment tool that meets the needs of your students. Good luck as you build your Transition assessment resources.

Thank you for your question.


  • Measurable Postsecondary Goals


What are Measureable Postsecondary Goals and how do they fit into the IEP?


This is a good question that is often not understood. As a student grows it is important shift the IEP focus to what the student wants to do in their future. It is important to include students in the decision-making progress to make the IEP a plan that makes sense to them.

IEP teams develop goals that will be achieved during the school year or IEP cycle. These are called annual IEP goals. Annual goals can be written in the areas of reading, math, written language, behavior, speech/language, etc. These goals are specific, measureable, realistic, and tied to the Common Core State Standards.

Transition services begin at age 16, or younger if determined by the IEP team and include Measureable Postsecondary Goals (MPSG’s) based upon age appropriate assessment. These goals are written in the areas of education/training, employment, and as needed, independent living skills. Measurable Postsecondary Goals are also updated annually and generally shift from general goals to more specific goals as the student matures.

The major difference between annual goals and MPSG’s is that Measureable Postsecondary Goals are based on a student’s long-range goal, or what they what to be when they grow up. Measurable postsecondary goals are statements of what the student will achieve after leaving high school.

Questions to help focus MPSG’s include:

  • Education/training- Where and how will the student continue to learn and/or develop skills after graduation?
  • Employment- Where will the student work or engage in productive activities after graduation?
  • Independent Living- Where will the student live and how will he/she access adult services, participate in the community, and have fun after graduation?

Examples of how MPSG’s and Annual Goals tie together:



Annual Goal

Example 1

Independent Living Goal: Upon completing high school, Bill will use public transportation, including the public bus and BART system.

Given several coins, Bill will match the coin with its amount six out of eight times by November 2013.

Example 2

Employment Goal:
After high school, Jessica will work on-campus part-time in the food court at the college with supports from Vocational Rehabilitation and the staff at the college.

Written Language:
Given direct instruction for completing a job application, guided practice, and personal information, Jessica will complete an application with 100% accuracy by the end of the 2nd school semester.

It’s important to remember that as students mature and have new experiences their long-term goals may change. This is OK. The most important piece is that the student is involved in the process.

Thank you for your question.


  • Increased student participation at IEP meetings


I have several students at the high school level who do not want to attend their IEP meetings. After explaining the importance and convincing them to attend, they just sit at the meeting barely attending and rarely participating. How do I get my students to become more involved in their IEP meetings?


This is a very good question. While IDEA requires that the students participate in the IEP process, sometimes it is very hard to convince a high school teenager that this is a good idea. It is hard for them to see that planning for their future and for what they will be doing post-school should start while they are in high school.

When viewed through the eyes of a student, an IEP meeting is an uncomfortable situation where parents, teachers and administrators gather to talk about them, their grades, their behaviors, their test scores and their disability. A shift in this perception, with planning, can not only involve your students in their IEP but also encourage behaviors that will benefit them for many years to come.

Research shows that by learning to actively participate in and even lead their own IEP meetings, students demonstrate goal-setting, planning, self-evaluation, public speaking and self advocacy skills. The importance of these opportunities is also communicated in Common Core State Standards for Speaking and Listening (Grades 11-12):

“1. Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one on one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

a) Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas.

b) Work with peers to promote civil, democratic discussions and decision making, set clear goals and deadlines, and establish individual roles as needed.

c) Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that probe reasoning and evidence; ensure a hearing for a full range of positions on a topic or issue; clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions; and promote
divergent and creative perspectives.

d) Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives; synthesize comments, claims, and evidence made on all sides of an issue; resolve contradictions when possible; and determine what additional information or research is required to deepen the investigation or complete the task.”

Depending on your students’ abilities and levels of comfort, there are several ways that they can effectively participate in the IEP process:

  1. Begin meeting by stating the pupose
  2. Introduce everyone
  3. Review past goals and performance
  4. Ask for feeback from team members
  5. State transition goals
  6. Ask questions for clarification
  7. Deal with differences in opinion
  8. State what supports will be needed
  9. Summarize goals
  10. Close meeting by thanking members
  11. Work on IEP goals all year

Additional resources and sample lesson plans can be found at the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center website at

Thank you for your question and I hope that the suggestions and resources will help. Student “buy-in” is a key factor, and by involving students in the IEP process they will, hopefully, see how these skills can be used in the future.