Mr. Milnes and Mrs. Galambos,
As you are aware, transition planning for students with an IEP is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Transition planning is defined as being a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that:
- “is designed within an outcome oriented process, that promotes movement from school to post school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational training, integrated employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
- is based on the student’s needs, taking into account the student’s preferences and interests;
- and includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school objectives, and when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation” (IDEA 2004).
Preparing our students for their post-secondary lives is an important part of our jobs as special education teachers. We need to ensure that our students have obtained the necessary information and functional skills in order to be successful in their post-secondary plans, whether it be continuing their education or entering the workforce immediately upon graduation.
Currently, in the Special Education department, students are expected to complete transition activities each year to assist them in narrowing their post-secondary focus. While these activities are helpful in the moment, the students are not required to hold onto their completed work or reflect on the learning process that took place while completing them. When our students graduate, the completed activities stay within the students’ file in our special education records. The students do not realize how much value these activities hold and often forget about the research they have completed.
Therefore, I am proposing a solution that will not only simplify the process of completing the transition activities, but will also add value to the students’ personal growth as emerging functional adults. By transitioning these activities from hard copy assessments to an ongoing ePortfolio, students will take ownership of their post-secondary development and will be able to continue to build upon them in the future.
I am proposing to initiate the use of an ePortfolio in which :
- students will use web-based accounts which offer free platforms to house their work
- students would reflect on their personal and educational development
- students would be able to house their post-secondary research and plans in one place
- students would be able to utilize their ePortfolios after graduating from Owen J. Roberts
Research indicates that well-designed and properly implemented ePortfolios allow for students to have more ownership over their work. Implementing ePortfolios throughout our department will allow students to have that ownership over their learning from the moment they walk into the doors at the high school and through their graduation. This ownership will then carry over into each of their classes as they reflect on their learning and continue to add to their portfolios. The carry over from year to year will allow the students to reflect on their growth, as well as to track their interest areas and plans for their post-secondary lives.
I would also like to propose that we add ePortfolio requirements to the English department as well, to provide students with direct instruction and opportunities to enhance their transition plans and develop lifelong reading, writing, and reflection skills. Having this structured time throughout their high school years in order to continue developing and utilizing an ePortfolio to its full potential will be extremely beneficial. Transition planning is a federally mandated requirement for our student population and the use of ePortfolios will not only document that requirement, but it will also improve student motivation to complete activities because it will be unique to their interests. I look forward to hearing your feedback and working with you to make this proposal a reality at our high school.