The ICI’s Education and Transition Team works with professionals, students, and families in Massachusetts and nationwide on college and career development for adolescents and young adults with disabilities. Our work is driven by a strong emphasis on person-centered planning, a powerful approach that leads students to form their postsecondary goals. Self-determination and self-advocacy, foundational skills, inclusive education, and evidence-based practices in secondary education and transition services are the cornerstones of our work.

Current work is focused on development, as well as expansion of research and practice in inclusive higher education for students with intellectual disability. Personnel preparation on transition leadership provides training for special educators, rehabilitation counselors, school guidance counselors, and school social workers who want to enhance school transition services through systems change and improved practice.

Featured projects of the Education and Transition Team include:

National Coordinating Center: The Think College National Coordinating Center provides coordination, training, and evaluation services for Transition and Postsecondary Education Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSIDs). The center offers these services to TPSID grantees, as well as other initiatives for students with intellectual disability nationwide. Capacity-building events support the development and enhancement of postsecondary education options.

Future Quest Island-Explorations (FQI-E) is an online accessible college and career readiness curriculum that uses gaming strategies to motivate and support improved self-concept, social and emotional competence, and early college and career awareness for upper elementary students with and without disability in grades 3-5 using the evidence-based “Possible Selves” framework. Project personnel work closely with elementary school teachers, students, administrators, and families to develop and field test lessons and activities, with a focus on the content and universal design principles to ensure accessibility.

Transition Leadership is a personnel preparation program for transition specialists. The program prepares candidates at the master’s level and certificate level for the job of transition specialist. For candidates in Massachusetts, the program is a MA DESE-approved course of study that prepares them for the MA Transition Specialist Endorsement. Coursework includes Youth Development and Self-Determination, Transition Topics and Compliance, Career Development Education, Inclusive Postsecondary Education, and Transition Leadership. A culminating practicum is completed in the student’s school to directly impact that school’s transition services.

Moving Transition Forward: Exploration of College-based and Conventional Transition Practices for Students with Intellectual Disability and Autism. This project examines the composition and impact of existing transition practices via secondary analysis of two national datasets. This three-phase study will define, explore, and compare critical aspects of two transition approaches:

  1. A college-based transition experience provided via partnership between a local education agency and institutions of higher education
  2. A conventional transition experience offered by a local education agency in a high school or community setting

This project allows us to explore the extent of implementation of research-based and promising transition services in each approach. We hope to identify if, in addition to these practices, other employment and college preparation experiences demonstrate promise for improving employment of students with intellectual disability and autism while in high school or at exit from high school.

Related Projects: ThinkCollege!, NERCVE, Future Quest Island