Academics and Transition-Focused Skills

Annotated Bibliography

Teaching Academic and Transition-Focused Employment

and Independent Living Skills Simultaneously

 

Prepared for NSTTAC by Audrey Bartholomew

 

            While the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (2001) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (2004) have been calling for States to provide students with disabilities access to the general curriculum for the last decade, the recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards has increased focus on improving reading, writing, and math skills of all students including those with disabilities (Common Core State Standards Initiative, 2010).  As a result, it is possible instruction focused on teaching employment,  independent living skills, or self-determination skills may be eliminated or deemphasized in favor of academic standards-based instruction, despite students’ functional needs (Ayres, Douglas, Lowrey, & Sievers, 2011; Bouck, 2009).  Although teaching both academic and transition skills may seem contrary to each other, there have been suggestions made on how to best individualize education so students are afforded a wide range of instructional opportunities (Basset & Kochhar-Bryant, 2006).  One way to solve the struggle between academic and transition-focused instruction may be to deliver them simultaneously (Basset & Kochhar-Bryant, 2006; Blalock, et al., 2003).   The purpose of this annotated bibliography is to provide a brief review of published articles that a) overview issues in teaching both academic and transition-focused skills, b) examined the effects of teaching both academic and other transition-focused skills, and c) provide practical suggestions for designing instruction to teach both academic and other transition-focused skills.

 

References

 

Ayres, K. M., Lowrey, K. A., Douglas, K. A., & Sievers, C. (2011). I can identify Saturn but I can’t brush my teeth: What happens when the curricular focus for students with severe disabilities shifts. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 46, 11-21.

 

Bassett, D. S., & Kochhar-Bryant, C. A. (2006). Strategies for aligning standards-based education and transition. Focus on Exceptional Children, 39, 1-19.

 

Blalock, G., Kochhar-Bryant, C. A., Test, D. W., Kohler, P., White, W. Lehmann, J.,…Patton, J. (2003). The need for comprehensive personnel preparation in transition and career development: A position statement of the Division on Career Development and Transition. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 26, 207-226.

 

Bouck, E. C. (2009). No child left behind, the individuals with disabilities education act and functional curricula: A conflict of interest? Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 44, 3-13.

 

Common Core State Standards Initiative (2010). Common Core State Standards. Retrieved from http://www.corestandards.org

 

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.

 

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. 70 § 6301 et seq. (2002)

 

Issues in Teaching both Academic and Transition Skills

 

Ayres, K. M., Lowrey, K. A., Douglas, K. A., & Sievers, C. (2011). I can identify Saturn but I can’t brush my teeth: What happens when the curricular focus for students with severe disabilities shifts. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 46, 11-21.

  • This article examines evidence supporting both a standards-based curricula and one that focuses on teaching functional skills.
  • The authors argue while research indicates students with severe disabilities can learn skills based on general education standards, this instruction may not be individualized to the student and/or benefit students’ long term needs.
  • The authors recommend a curriculum for students with severe disabilities start with a thorough assessment of student needs and focus on a localized curriculum rather than a state or national one.

 

Ayres, K. M., Lowrey, K. A., Douglas, K. A., & Sievers, C. (2012). The question still remains: What happens when the curricular focus for students with severe disabilities shifts? A reply to Courtade, Spooner, Browder, and Jimenez (2012). Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 47, 14-22.

  • This article, a third in a series, responds to the seven reasons Courtade, Spooner, Browder, and Jimenez (2012) offer in favor of a standards-based education.
  • They contend the argument Courtade et al. makes for a “full educational opportunity” is one that should be individualized to student need, not one that is standardized across all students. 
  • In addition, the authors argue students with severe disabilities only have a finite amount of time in school and their educational goals and activities be prioritized.

 

Bouck, E. C. (2009). No child left behind, the individuals with disabilities education act and functional curricula: A conflict of interest? Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 44, 3-13.

  • This article discusses the alignment of a functional curriculum with NCLB and IDEA and the issues surrounding implementation of the laws including the lack of research and support.
  • The author defines a functional curriculum and dispels myths that a curriculum focused on functional skills is “a watered down version of the same curriculum” and “dumbed down”. 
  • Additionally, the author concludes a functional curriculum is not supported by NCLB and IDEA due to issues such as the mandate for assessment of the general curriculum and highly qualified teachers.

 

Courtade, G., Spooner, F., Browder, D., & Jimenez, B. (2012). Seven reasons to promote standards-based instruction for students with severe disabilities: A reply to Ayres, Lowry, Douglas, & Sievers (2011).  Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 47, 3-13.

  • This article replies to Ayres, Lowry, Douglas, and Sievers and cites several agreements including the curriculum evolving, both academic and functional skills are important for students with severe disabilities to learn, and transition outcomes for these students are poor.
  • The authors offer seven reasons why a standards-based education (SBE) is important for students with severe disabilities including (a) a SBE is a civil right, (b) a SBE is relevant because it prepares students for postsecondary education and to live in an extended community, (c) we are realizing students with severe disabilities can learn more and more, (d)  it should not be required for students to learn all functional skills because everyone lacks them in some respect, (e) a SBE is not a full replacement for functional skills and as students enter secondary school, it may be more appropriate to focus on transition skills, (f) academic skills are needed for successful post-school life, and (g) state and district assessments based on a SBE is mandated not just due to NCLB and IDEA but also because students have the skills to be assessed.

 

Bassett, D. S., & Kochhar-Bryant, C. A. (2006). Strategies for aligning standards-based education and transition. Focus on Exceptional Children, 39, 1-19.

  • This article provides an overview of issues and strategies surrounding the alignment of transition and standards-based education.
  • The authors suggest using transition as a comprehensive planning process to providing access to instruction in multiple domains including both transition and standards-based. 
  • Additionally, the authors suggest two ways to design instruction including applying standards to ideas and applying ideas to standards.

 

Bassett, D. A., & Smith, E. C. (1996). Transition in an era of reform.  Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29, 161-166.

  • This article provides an overview of the status of transition services for students with learning disabilities with a specific emphasis on school reform including special education reform and standards-based education.
  • While this article was published prior to No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, it discusses standards-based education within the framework of Goals 2000 which has similar aims as NCLB (e.g., improving graduation rate, improving literacy skills).
  • Recommendations emphasize personalizing students’ transition plans including (a) considering a full range of courses including general education and vocational preparation, (b) linking students to adult service providers, and (c) including students in planning and IEP meetings.

 

 

Sitlington, P. L., & Neubert, D. A. (2004). Preparing youths with emotional or behavioral disorders for transition to adult life: Can it be done within the standards-based reform movement? Behavioral Disorders, 29, 279-288.

  • This article provides an overview of transition to adult life for students with emotional or behavioral disorders including the lack of participation in general education and higher dropout rates when compared to their peers.
  • The authors make several student-based recommendations to help facilitate successful transitions within the context of a standards-based movement including (a) provide access to both general education and career tech-education classes within the general education curriculum, (b) include students in state and district assessments, (c) provide instruction in self-determination skills, (d) actively involve family in the transition planning process, (e) use transition assessment to guide transition planning, and (f) incorporate mental health and counseling services into educational programming.
  • Additionally, the authors make several policy-based recommendations including (a) advocating at the national and state level for inclusion of transition skills into assessments, (b) preparing professionals to coordinate transition planning, and (c) conducting field-based research into postsecondary outcomes for students with E/BD.

 

Empirically-based Research on Teaching Academics and Transition Skills

 

Agran, M., Cavin, M., Wehmeyer, M., & Palmer, S. (2006). Participation of students with moderate to severe disabilities in the general curriculum: The effects of the self-determined learning model of instruction. Research and Practice for Persons with Severe Disabilities, 31, 230-241. 

  • This study examined the effects of teaching students the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI), a goal setting strategy involving three phases: (a) identify a goal, (b) develop a plan to achieve the goal, and (c) reflect on the outcome after enacting the plan to set academic goals
  • The academic content learned through the goal-setting process included completing a science lab, using a map, and identifying organs and their functions.
  • A multiple baseline across students design indicated a functional relation between the SDLMI and increased academic skills.

 

Blum, T. H., Lipsett, L. R., & Yocom, D. J. (2002). Literature circles: A tool for self-determination in one middle school inclusive classroom. Remedial and Special Education, 23, 99-108.

  • This study investigated the effects of using reading literature circles to improve student self-efficacy skills to students with and without disabilities in an inclusive eighth and ninth grade classroom.
  • Students were assigned roles (e.g., illustrator, discussion leader) and teachers served as facilitators during discussions on both short stories and longer novels.
  • Results indicated students were able to accurately assess their reading abilities and perceive an improvement in skills.

 

 

Collins, B. C., Evans, A., Creech-Galloway, C., Karl, J., & Miller, A. (2007). Comparison of the acquisition and maintenance of teaching functional and core content sight words in special and general education settings. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 22, 220-233.  

  • This study examined the effects of constant time delay to teach both academic and functional skills for three students with moderate to severe disabilities.
  • Academic skills included language arts (i.e. reading vocabulary), science (e.g., identifying the state of a property), and math (i.e., using a calculator to compute sales tax).  Functional skills included applying the academic skills (e.g., reading the word president and then identifying who the president was).
  • Results indicated a functional relation between the constant time delay and both students academic and functional skills.  Additionally, students were able to maintain their skills over time and generalize both types of skills.

 

Collins, B. C., Hager, K. L., & Galloway, C. C. (2011). Addition of functional content during core content instruction with students with moderate disabilities. Education and Training in Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 46, 22-39.

  • This study examined the effects of using constant time delay to teach both academic and functional content to three middle school students with moderate intellectual disabilities and/or autism. 
  • Academic content included reading citizenship vocabulary, stating the properties of an element, and identifying the order of operations for multiplication.  Functional skills included applying the academic content to a functional context (e.g., naming the mayor, identify appropriate clothing for different properties of precipitation, and computing tax).
  • Results indicated a functional relation between constant time delay and both academic and functional skills.  Additionally students were able to maintain their skills and generalize them to alternate assessment tasks. 

 

Falkenstine, K. J., Collins, B. C., Schuster, J. W., & Kleinert, H. (2009).  Presenting chained and discrete tasks as non-targeted information when teaching discrete academic skills through small group instruction. Education and training in Developmental Disabilities, 44, 127-142. 

  • This study examined the effects of modeling, constant time delay, and teaching in groups on the acquisition of both academic and functional skills for students with disabilities.
  • Academic skills included reading and identifying the definition of arts-related vocabulary, identifying state abbreviations and capitals, while functional skills included telling time and setting a watch.
  • A multiple-probe across behaviors indicated a functional relation between instruction and acquisition of both academic and functional skills.

 

Fowler, C. H., Konrad, M., Walker, A., Test, D. W., & Wood, W. M. (2007).  Self-determination interventions’ effects on the academic performance of students with developmental disabilities.  Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 42, 270-285.

  • This review included 11 studies examining the effects of self-determination strategies on 18 academic outcomes for students with developmental disabilities.
  • The academic outcomes were across subject areas and included number of math problems completed, accuracy of homework completed, and accuracy of labeling items.
  • Self-determination strategies included self-management, self-advocacy, choice-making, goal-setting, and multiple component packages.

 

 

Konrad, M., Trela, K., & Test, D. W. (2006). Using IEP goals and objectives to teach paragraph writing to high school students with physical and cognitive disabilities.  Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 41, 111-124.

  • This study examined the effects of GO 4 IT…NOW!, a writing mnemonic strategy, to teach writing both IEP goal paragraphs and paragraphs on other topics with four students with disabilities.
  • GO 4 IT…NOW! is a mnemonic strategy including teaching students to identify their goal, objectives, and timeline and to check their paragraphs to make sure they named their topic, ordered their steps, and wrapped it up by restating the topic. 
  • A multiple baseline across students indicated a functional relation between GO 4 IT…NOW! and students’ ability to improve both the quality and content of IEP goal paragraphs and paragraphs on other topics.

 

 

Konrad, M., & Test, D. W. (2007). Effects of GO 4 IT…NOW! strategy instruction on the written IEP goal articulation and paragraph-writing skills of middle school students with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 28, 277-291.

  • This study investigated the effects of Go 4 IT…NOW! on writing both IEP and paragraphs on other topics for students with mild disabilities.
  • A multiple-probe across groups of students indicated a functional relation between GO 4 IT…NOW! and improvement in written articulation and quality of both goal and generalization paragraphs.

 

 

Strategies for Teaching both Academic and Transition Skills

 

Collins, B. C., Karl, J., Riggs, L., Galloway, C. G., & Hager, K. D. (2010). Teaching core content with real-life applications to secondary students with moderate and severe disabilities. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 43(1), 52-59.

  • This article provides step-by-step directions on two ways to teach core-content and transition-based instruction simultaneously.
  • One way suggested is to identify core content that can be embedded in instruction while teaching life skills.  Another approach is to identify functional applications that can be added as nontargeted information when teaching academics.
  • The authors provide sample data collection sheets and sample planning sheets to design instruction either way.

 

Konrad, M., Walker, A. R., Fowler, C. H, Test, D. W., & Wood, W. M. (2008). A model for aligning self-determination and general curriculum standards.  TEACHING Exceptional Children, 40 (3), 53-64.

  • This article provides an overview of a model for integrating self-determination and academic content including (a) identifying the academic standards and the student’s academic and self-determination needs, (b) identifying the lesson goals that incorporate the standards and needs, (c) using evidence-based strategies to teach, (d) assessing if students met both academic and self-determination outcomes and if not, planning additional instruction, (e) developing IEP goals based on academic and self-determination needs.
  • This article also provides examples of a planning tool for implementing the model class-wide and additional resources including related articles and websites.

 

 

This document was produced under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs Grant No.  H326J110001.  Marlene Simon-Burroughs served as the project officer.  The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or polices of the Department of Education.  No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service or enterprise mentioned in this publication is intended or should be inferred.  This product is public domain.  Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted.  While permission to reprint this publication is not necessary, the citation should be: National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (2012). Teaching Academic and Transition-Focused Employment and Independent Living Skills Annotated Bibliography, Charlotte, NC, NSTTAC.

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