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Teleconference Transcript

Transcript of NCSET teleconference call held on March 16, 2004

Supporting Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities to Transition and Participate in Postsecondary Education


Robert Stodden, Ph.D.
Director, National Center for the Study of Postsecondary Educational Supports
University of Hawaii at Manoa

Meg Grigal, Ph.D.
Director, On Campus Outreach
University of Maryland

Debra Hart, M.Ed.
Coordinator, School and Community Projects, Institute for Community Inclusion
University of Massachusetts at Boston

DR. STODDEN: This is Bob Stodden. I am Director of the National Center for the Study of Postsecondary Educational Supports, at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. The title of this session is Supporting Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities to Transition and Participate in Postsecondary Education, and this will be a one-hour teleconference call. The format will be as follows. I am going to introduce the sessions, which will take the first 15 minutes, to give you the guidelines for the session, the roles and introduce the topic. Then we have two speakers: Dr. Meg Grigal from the University of Maryland will be the first speaker. And then Dr. Debra Hart from the University of Massachusetts at Boston will follow Meg. This will leave us about 15-20 minutes for questions and discussion, and the last five minutes – I will summarize and wind up the call and we will give each of the speakers a very brief opportunity to summarize our response during the discussions that occurred.

Just a real brief background on the topic, the purpose of this teleconference is to allow the participants to learn about and discuss issues and solutions related to the participation of persons with intellectual disabilities in postsecondary education. The speakers today are all noted professionals in this area of study – they have conducted a number of projects in postsecondary education with people with intellectual disabilities. They have a lot of experience in this area. The outputs of today’s teleconference call should be in the following three areas:

  1. You should have a better understanding of the benefits of postsecondary education for individuals with intellectual disabilities,
  2. You should have a better awareness of the barriers to transition to postsecondary education for individuals with intellectual disabilities,
  3. And you should have a better sense of the various approaches, the supports and services that are provided to enhance the transition of persons with intellectual disabilities to postsecondary education.

So our hope is that you will have a better understanding across these three purposes when we finish today.

I will give a little bit of background about postsecondary education and persons with disabilities in general, and then we will move into specifically talking about persons with intellectual disabilities. As most of you on the line may know, there has been a significant increase in the number of persons with disabilities who have accessed and participated in postsecondary education. Over the past 10-20 years, in fact, this increase has been very significant and more than three times the number of people with disabilities now access and participate as freshmen in postsecondary education than did more than ten years ago.

This is one indication of the success or the impact of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, IDEA, which has a focus upon preparing and transitioning those individuals to postsecondary education. So one of the positive impacts of IDEA has been this significant increase in the number of people with disabilities accessing postsecondary education. We have also seen an increase in the provision of supports, services, and accommodations in postsecondary education for persons with disabilities. This increase can somewhat be attributed to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and some of its requirements, particularly to provide accommodations for people with disabilities in postsecondary education. We now see in postsecondary education a range of all types of support services and accommodations provided, so there is a vast diversity of level and type of supports and services provided and accommodations that are made for people with disabilities in postsecondary education.

One of our studies found that almost all postsecondary institutions, including two-year and four-year as well as private and public institutions provide some level and type of disability support and accommodation, so this is a fairly significant increase over the last 10-20 years. We are also finding today that there is a wide range of the people with disabilities participating in postsecondary education, including people with psychiatric disabilities and other hidden disabilities. All of these increases have increased demands on postsecondary institutions to respond to the needs of this population.

One of the groups that has drawn a lot of interest are young people with intellectual disabilities in postsecondary education, and the focus of this call today will be on this population. This includes students that have traditionally been referred to in lower education and particularly in high school as those students found in EMR, TMR, SMR types of classes, or today more in classes for students with significant disabilities, intellectual disabilities, or developmental disabilities. These are students that traditionally have been supported in high school within self-contained classrooms or partly self-contained classrooms or students who have participated in community-based instructional programs. This group of students also includes those that have participated in what is often referred to as the 18-21 year old programs. That’s referring to students who still are eligible for services under IDEA in the age group 18-21 but find high school settings not necessarily the most age-appropriate environment.

Many of these students are found in local education agencies with parents who are interested in community-based vocational programs, and responded to this need by developing programs that are housed on college campuses. You will find many of these programs on community college campuses or occasional technical center campuses that are of a postsecondary education nature and context. So with this interest, we have had quite a few projects that have been funded by the U.S. Department of Education, including a number of 18-21 year old projects—a few demonstration projects were also funded in this group. A number of other projects were funded as outreach projects to further explore these arrangements. Our speakers today are very familiar with these projects, have implemented many of them themselves, and also have spent quite a bit of time nationally reviewing these projects and some of the effective strategies that work in these projects. So I will stop at this point and turn it over to Dr. Meg Grigal who is very experienced in this area and have her talk a little bit about some of the projects that she has worked with in Maryland and whatever else she wants to talk about. So Meg, now I turn it over to you.

DR. GRIGAL: Thanks, Bob. Hi, this is Meg Grigal, I am at the University of Maryland and I direct an OSEP-funded outreach project called On Campus Outreach. We have had it since 1999 and the purpose of this outreach project, as Bob alluded to, is to provide technical assistance and networking to personnel who are working with students aged 18-21 with significant disabilities in various postsecondary settings. When we first were funded in 1999 there were six local school systems in Maryland that were providing services to students in postsecondary sites. Now there are 19 in Maryland and this may or may not be a wonderful thing, I think in some ways it’s very exciting and in some ways it’s one of the issues that we need to look at. But currently there are 11 school systems serving students in various settings for four-year colleges, 13 community colleges, and 2 community settings here in Maryland. Also, On Campus Outreach operates a Web site that lists these programs in Maryland and provides an online training module on Needs Assessment and lists our fact sheets and journal articles. So if you are looking for additional written information, go to

Now as Bob said, there has been a great increase in postsecondary options for students with significant disabilities and a lot of this is due to OSEP and their funding of outreach projects and model demonstration projects, also organizations such as TASH, and parents and parent advocates who have been involved in the listserv Postsecondary Education – a Choice for Everyone. This listserv has really been a great source of information, I think, for parents. And frankly the National Center for the Study of Postsecondary Educational Supports and Bob’s work with Teresa Whelley has really pushed this issue around the country. So they should get some recognition about the summits and the capacity building institutes they have had on this issue.

About two years ago I did a study of parents of students with both high- and low-incidence disabilities to find out what their goals were for their students who were about to graduate. And, interestingly enough, I found that over 50% of the parents of students with low-incidence disabilities wanted their child to go to college. And even more interestingly, 36% of them wanted their child to go to a four-year college, while 21% wanted a community college. So actually more parents of students with low-incidence disabilities chose a four-year college than did parents of students with high-incidence disabilities. So obviously these data are really demonstrating that the interest is coming from all different realms to provide students with intellectual disabilities more options when it comes to their postsecondary years.

There are a variety of models—and Bob talked about one of them—providing programs through the local school systems for students ages 18-21 by providing services in a postsecondary setting. There are other models that Deb Hart, I am sure, is going to talk about—she has done a national survey of the various types of services that are provided. And while all the models have different aspects, one of the things that we have seen pretty consistently is that there are lot of similarities between what’s really good and what are the challenges. And I will talk about some of the challenges in a little bit.

The major area focus for most of the students who access postsecondary environments include:

  • accessing college coursework,
  • improving their employment opportunities,
  • increasing their level of independence and self-determination,
  • making social connections with students who are of similar age or similar interests, and
  • participating in futures planning activities, and in keeping with that, connecting with the adult service providers who will be providing their support services as they exit the public school system.

Last year OCO conducted a survey to see what activities students who are being served in postsecondary studying here in Maryland were involved in. We surveyed 13 settings that included 163 students. I will briefly review some of the findings from this survey. I am not sure they are necessarily reflective of what’s going on around the country, but I think since we have a pretty large group of students receiving services here in Maryland in postsecondary settings, it’s a good beginning point.

Most of the students here—about 87%—were participating in vocational training or employment, with 103 students in paid jobs. I think this is very good news. The average wage was $5.91 an hour and the average student worked 15 hours a week. So on the employment aspect of these students’ outcomes, I think the news is good. The students were participating in ideally mostly paid jobs and were working a good number of hours during the week.

Few students—a little over a third, 63 students—enrolled in postsecondary courses even though 11 of the programs were located on college campuses. Most of those that were enrolled in college courses were auditing those courses and most of the courses that were audited were non-academic in nature. The cause for this is related to a number of things: the college’s admissions requirements for students to actually get into academic coursework—the prerequisites, the placement testing—and also students’ interest, whether the students are interested or not in taking courses. There were a couple of students that took courses for credit, but we haven’t seen that being a big outcome of the students’ participation in these programs here in Maryland.

A positive aspect was that, we found there was increased interagency planning by teachers who worked with our local long-term funding agency (DDA) and DORs, our rehabilitative agency, and the adult service providers to assist students in applying for and choosing providers. Many of these agencies had representatives come and speak with students, they did tours of adult agencies, and some adult service agency personnel would come in and provide instructions on job application, interviewing skills, resume building. So that level of interagency planning is often really looked for and doesn’t happen sometimes when students get into high school. But these programs sometimes take us out of the box and provide school system personnel and various agency personnel with a new platform where they can have systems and flexibility of funding and services and support that is sometimes hard to come by when the students are still in high school. So, as Bob mentioned, I think the ability to provide interagency planning and flexibility of funding is a real benefit to these types of services.

There was very little planning found for independent living outcomes for students. I think this a reflection of a limited ability to access residential settings for students; none of the programs in Maryland have been able to access dorms for students to spend the night. There are a lot of issues related to liability, to staffing and to parental interest and fears about students spending time on campus overnight. So I think the independent living aspect of providing services at colleges is pretty widely untapped.

I think that one of the greatest outcomes of this survey is that we documented the lack of evaluation of the services—little to no evaluation is being conducted on the services that are being provided. There is very little follow-up done on graduates to determine if they had met their goals or achieved their outcomes. I would guess that this is probably what’s happening in many of the programs around the nation, that often people that are providing very good service don’t have time to document that service. But this is a real major downfall of providing services in postsecondary settings without any documentation that the students are achieving their goals, that their goals are created in a person-centered manner, that their outcomes are successful and that students are really being able to achieve their adult outcomes based on their experiences in the postsecondary site. I think without any of that data we are sort of spinning our wheels. Some school systems think they are doing a great job by providing students with another option in the postsecondary setting as opposed to providing them with seven years of high school. But they fail to commit to monitor that provision of service and without the monitoring, without looking at evaluation, without looking at outcomes, we are not really demonstrating that these services are any better than those services students would receive if they remained in high school.

I have a few more minutes, so I am going to briefly talk about some of the issues that remain challenging for the provision of services in a postsecondary setting, the first being the bandwagon approach. I think often school systems hear about this model and say, “Well, there is our answer: college. Let us find a college and we will take some students and we’ll begin providing services in the college,” and then they take the exact program that the students were receiving in high school, they move it to a new setting, and they think they are doing something innovative. This jumping on the bandwagon makes our project very crazy, as we would really think that students would be better served with a good deal of planning. This is the only way that this service option is really successful, whether you use a program-based approach or an individual-support approach, because the best outcomes are achieved by planning. So it is really important that the school system commit to good planning on the forefront of their process and involving the right people—getting students and their families involved in person-centered planning, bringing in interagency personnel from the beginning to make sure the partnerships are there, so that students will receive the support they need in the setting of their choice.

I think another problem with some of the school systems is the lack of ownership and oversight by administration. Sometimes these programs are created and there is a lot of energy and enthusiasm by the school system at the beginning and then they get going a year or two later. The administration figures okay, things are going well out there, we are just going to let it go and they check in a couple times a year, but again there is a very little formal evaluation done. There is very little support for the actual instructor or coordinator of the services and I think it’s difficult because again, there is no accountability when it comes to student outcomes.

Another issue for students when it comes to being successful in these settings is the lack of preparation they get to succeed in college. If they want to take a college course but have had no coursework that has provided them with the skills to succeed in the college course that they are choosing, it is going to be very difficult for them. They don’t receive supports in high school often to advocate for their needs in classes, often they are provided with accommodations in high school classes without being involved in the process, and far too often probably ask for accommodations and aren’t given that in college classes.

And finally, the low expectations of students in high school is very difficult I think, once they get to college—that also leads to a lack of preparation to be able to succeed. Family issues, some other issues related to family I think, are number one – lack of choice. From the beginning, students with intellectual disabilities are often not thought of as college material and therefore, parents and families and students are not supported in even establishing that as an outcome of choice, and then if it is provided to them as an option when the student is 16 or 17 they may or may not be ready to make that a reality. And if they are presented with it as an option, very often it is the only option: “It’s okay, you can go to this program because it is the one we have.” Seldom are students are provided with the option of creating access to a different college and that has to do a lot with school systems looking at groups of kids as opposed to looking at supporting one student. I think for families that are involved, there is need for an increased level of commitment to the involvement of their student to gain access to all the possibilities of a college experience. Many times students, as they have been in high school in special education classes, have received all the support they need including transportation and an instructional assistant to be with them without having to be in charge of that, and parents are used to handing off those responsibilities to the school system. I think if the whole idea of accessing postsecondary experiences for people with intellectual disabilities is to succeed, we have to realize that this is a true transition experience in which the support – which when it comes to accessing activities during after-school hours are possibly providing transportation to and from a job site – begins to transfer back to systems and support people that are going to be in the student’s adult life and not public school personnel. So, I think changing the mindset is working collaboratively with families to begin at 18, and perhaps providing most of the support and then transitioning to a natural system of support once the student is aging towards 21 would better serve the student and their family.

Finally, because my time is running very short, there are some college issues. I think the attitudinal barriers have existed in almost every setting that we’ve seen here in Maryland and many that I have talked to across the nation, “Why would a student with intellectual disabilities go to college? What is the purpose here? Are they going to derive any benefit out of this?” The faculty and instructors often really don’t understand and it's really not as mean-spirited as it is, they really truly don’t understand what the purpose is. Another problem with college is the disability support personnel in some cases and I won’t say all, but in some cases have been charged with the gatekeeper role and that mentality often doesn’t serve students with intellectual disabilities. The DSS personnel are accustomed to providing support and services to students with other types of disabilities, but a student with an intellectual disability is often seen as someone who is not a part of their job.

Finally, I think one of the big issues is the protocol differences between high school and college. High school and college are very, very different and the students and the local school system personnel need to learn how to navigate that new system. The way you would provide support to a student in a high school class is not that same way you would provide support to a student in a college class. Parental rights in a high school are very different than the parental rights of a student who is in a community or four-year college, and that is something that I think really needs to be made clear as people go into these experiences. If a student is going to apply for disability support services at a community college, their parent cannot do it for them. They need to learn how to ask for the accommodations and support and to provide the necessary documentation as a self-report measure. They cannot have their parents do it for them. And students have to be prepared that there is no resource room at a college, that if they are looking for support, they need to do so through appropriate channels and no one is going to do it for them. So, my time is now up. I have a lot more I could say, but I know Debra Hart has some really wonderful information about a national survey that she has done so I am going to turn it over to Debra and thank you all for listening.

MS. HART: Hi, everyone. I am just going to cover briefly some results from a national survey we did over last summer and into early fall of this past year. The survey was looking at, specifically, programs that serve students between the ages of 18-21 who are still in high school or served by their local educational agency. We term that they were “dually enrolled” meaning still supported by their school district but they were participating in some type of postsecondary education experience. Now the concept of dual enrollment really is not new. What is new about it from our perspective is that it’s the student population we are talking about that is having access to a college experience that it hasn’t in the past, and specifically students who have been identified with intellectual disabilities.

What we were able to find over 40 programs, there were 25 that served students who were still in that age group, 18-21, who were dually enrolled, and what we found out in those 25 programs – we categorized them across three areas or models if you will. One was substantially separate, another was mixed, and the third was an individual support model that was totally inclusive. I am going to talk about how we defined each of those models.

  • You heard both Meg and Bob allude to some of the components of a substantially separate model. They have tended to focus on life-skills classes, community-based instruction, some rotation through jobs or employment sites for work experience both on and off campus. But students were not supported in taking any typical academic classes that students without disabilities were taking. They might take a life-skills curriculum, such as learning banking skills or something like that.
  • The mixed program model still had those life-skills classes but students were supported in electing, if they chose, to take regular college courses based on their choices, again with the supports going to them. Those mixed programs also included rotation or work-experience type of activities. And they had greater exposure to students without disabilities because they were supported in taking some of the courses.
  • The third one, the individual support model or the more inclusive if you will, was focused all on academic courses and when I say academic courses I mean courses that students without disabilities would be taking – the typical college course of study. And the supports went to the student in the form of educational coaches or some type of technology or common accommodation tutors or some other support for the students to have success in the course. Again, as Meg spoke about, many of the students in that model began by auditing our classes. Another feature of the individual support model is that they were much more student-centered and it was not program-based and if they did have employment as a feature of it, they were looking at internships and apprenticeships as it related to the courses they were in. And the career goals of the students often guided their course selection.

Next, further explaining those three models: over 50% of the 25 programs fell into the mixed model category, 8 were in the individual support model, and 4 were in the substantially separate category. The substantially separate programs have been around longer – anywhere up to 16-17 years. The mixed tended to be more between 3-5 years and as you would think, the individual support model was typically around for a lesser period of time, usually less than 5 years. The substantially separate were also larger and they served – the range was anywhere from 21-70 students and when I say 70 students, there were 70 students in one class. It was across a number of different classes or programs, teachers. The mixed category or model had between 11 and 15 students and the individual support model had between 6 and 10 students, again being much smaller.

Overall, in all three program categories, students with cognitive disabilities were the highest category of those served. But what I thought was most interesting is they all reported that they serve students with a wide range of disabilities and also that individuals tended to have multiple disabilities. The types of services that were offered - the most frequent service was transportation, the next was instructional assistance with secondary educational coaches, and the third was vocational assessment of a whole range of services. I think the most noteworthy – 75% of the programs reported that there was some type of cost or resource-sharing going on, meaning that the adult agencies and the college disability support offices were participating and supporting these students. So it wasn’t just the local educational agency paying for everything. I think that’s important just to start to see that this really seems to be promoting much more involvement of the adult side of the equation, which has been a challenge in the transition field for years, and it remains to be. But it is something that I think we should look at in more detail.

Now some of the barriers – and you have heard Meg and Bob refer to most of these and they probably won’t be much of a surprise to any of you out there – but the top barrier identified was attitude and, well, expectations if you want to combine the two. A feeling that students with intellectual disabilities don’t belong in college, they are not college material, they are going to water down the curriculum. And it was interesting because I remember in the literature on K-12 and especially secondary inclusion of students with significant disabilities in the general curriculum when that push started, we heard the same type of barriers and the same comments. So, that is consistent with this movement to look at including students with significant or intellectual disabilities into the postsecondary world if you will.

The second most cited barrier was transportation and the third was entrance for admission requirements, meaning to take part in the community college two-year programs there is an advanced placement test that students are required to take which typically for many students with and without disabilities would place them into needing to take developmental courses in both English writing and math.

And overall there were only two programs that of the 25 that had any data collected on outcomes. And I think Meg hit heavy on that and we see that nationally, not just in the state of Maryland. So I think I’ll move into a little bit of some recommendations which followed from there. We need much more demonstrations of some effective practices but we need the data to document that these things are effective or not, and what the outcomes are. I think also we need additional strategies. And on that, if folks have questions on strategies, I was involved in the demonstration project, so if you have questions on that feel free to ask more, I am not going to cover that right now. But I do know we need more solutions and strategies on how to better include students. And I think we need to identify further policies and practices that are creating these impediments or barriers such as entry requirements. And at that I am going to stop now and hopefully turn it over to Bob and you folks for questions, thank you.

DR. STODDEN: Okay, thanks a lot, Deb. Okay, we are going to enter the discussion phase of the call. We have a fairly large number of people on this call, so in asking your question or making your comment if you would give your name and indicate who you are directing the comment or question to, that would be appreciated and most probably keep it orderly, so the line is open. Any comments or questions for any or either of the speakers?

MR. MILLER: Sure, I will try to start it off. Scott Miller from West Virginia, a parent, my son is 19 years old, he is graduating from high school this year. He has Down syndrome and I just want to get some ideas of the kinds of programs that he might be looking at. You are very general in your discussions of what’s out there and I have been doing a little bit of looking around here and there on the internet. But are there some places to go to look at kinds of curriculums or particular colleges that might be open to have him attend?

MS. HART: Right now Amy Galmer from the University of Kansas has a database of transition programs that includes postsecondary educational programs for students with intellectual disabilities. That Web site if you are interested is If you click on “18-21 Programs” – there are only four links on that homepage – you get the searchable database.

MR. MILLER: Great, thanks.

DR. WHITE: Hi, my name is Dr. Carol White, I'm calling from the University of Nevada in Reno, and Debra, you mentioned some program data that was collected from two other programs. Do we have access to those data?

MS. HART: None at this point, you could have access to one in particular because I was involved in it. And if you want to contact me directly by e-mail, we could communicate more on that.

DR. WHITE: Great and your e-mail address.


DR. WHITE: Okay, great, thank you.

MS. MOORE: Hi this is Sheila Moore, I’m with the Down Syndrome Association of Middle Tennessee and the National Tennessee area. I have a question about choosing partners to make this work. Do you have a Web site that we can go to, to look at that?

MS. HART: Choosing partners as in who would be involved in planning for services?

MS. MOORE: Yes, I have a general idea, but...

DR. GRIGAL: Yeah, we actually have a number of fact sheets and journal articles that give pretty specific information about who we think should be involved. And of course each system is going to be different depending on who the players are, but I can tell you initially, I think—you know, your local adult service providers – if your school system is going to be involved you want the teachers who know the students involved, you want parents involved if possible, have some students involved in planning. I think involving your larger funding systems, your MR/DD agency or we have a DDA here in Maryland or your vocational rehabilitation services. Getting those people involved at the very beginning really provides them with the opportunity to provide input from the get-go, to be a part of the process. And it really has them take over a bit of ownership for achieving better outcomes for the students.

MS. HART: I want to emphasize what Meg is saying, we also use norms. Switching over from the survey we did to a demonstration model – a core of it is an interagency team, that has the adult side of the equation, as Meg mentioned, vocational rehabilitation, the one-stop career centers because they will support individuals taking college classes, your developmental disability agency representation from the call before and your colleges, and the local education agencies, and families, and students themselves so you get a real partnership growing and you don’t have to reinvent the wheel each time another student is identified that is interesting in participating. It is a really powerful way of getting some cost sharing or resource sharing going on.

MS. MOORE: Thank you.

MR. WIGGINS: Bob Wiggins from Oakland University in Rochester in Michigan, we had a relatively new program and I’m on the faculty here at Oakland. I was a little surprised to hear that there isn’t much available in terms of evaluations of these programs. I am wondering if it’s because faculty members who would often do this kind of work would be thinking in terms of some pre-post or value added or experimental kind of way of evaluating. My question is, is there an interest and a need for more descriptive, narrative, qualitative types of evaluations of programs and what they are able to accomplish?

DR. GRIGAL: I think there is a need for all types of data collection, including qualitative. There have been some journal articles related to individual student experiences, case studies that are in the literature. But if a school system is implementing the services, the school system is not providing any types of evaluation or follow-along of the students. If students are being supported in an individual manner, who is going to do that evaluation, if it is not a school system, is there a coordinating agency? Is the college going to look at it? Seldom is there anybody in particular who is going to be connecting the dots in the long term. I know our project has worked for the past three years in developing some materials to evaluate services both through monitoring student activities and monitoring staff activities to filing that data throughout the course of the year and not just at the end of the year. Also, we’re looking at how you are going to track student experiences once they leave the school system during follow-up and follow-along activities. And then, more importantly than just collecting the data, using that information to improve your practice – to change how you provide services so that the services are actually providing students with the outcomes they want to achieve. So we have done some work in the past three years, we have piloted some evaluation materials in three states and we are actually getting that material together now to put out in various forms, one of which will be an online training module on evaluation so that people around the country can get materials from our Web site, but that’s in the process of being created right now. Did that answer your question, Bob?


MS. TRISHA: Hello, my name is Madeleine Trisha in St. Louis, Missouri and we have a program over at Fontbonne University, it is a private Catholic university, and our students are interested in taking courses but we are wondering who should we contact at the University to inquire about getting into a course. Just from the examples that are already out there, who did they go to?

DR. GRIGAL: It looks different at different colleges. In some cases if the people that were providing services had a contact who they knew, either the president of the university or provost or dean. Obviously getting in at a higher level gives you a little more teeth when it comes to implementing things down at the faculty level, so if you have a connection with somebody who is in a position of providing further access, that’s a good place to start. If you don’t, I think sometimes just starting by talking to a professor who you know is amenable to providing accommodations and has demonstrated some interest in supporting students with different learning needs. We’ve seen it go both ways in Maryland. Some teachers have been able to go up to a professor and say “Hey, you know we have got a student who really wants to take your Intro to the Internet course and we will provide some supports to him and then eventually will get out of here and he will be taking your course” and the professor is fine with it. In some cases that sends a million red flags up and down the protocol avenue and then the teacher has to go back to the chair of the department or dean, who then goes to the faculty members. So it is really a matter of knowing what the protocol is and sometimes if you have a connection at the college to began with, speaking with whoever your liaison is and getting their input on where to start would be a good route.

MS. WILL: I would like to say ditto to what Meg just described to you. When we started our demonstration project, we started with the interagency team and simultaneously we identified one student to start with who was interested in postsecondary experience. We went to the particular area she was interested in. Using our student as an example, she was very interested in working with animals and wanted to run her own kennel, so we looked at what would you need to learn to be able to do that. We looked across with her some of the course catalogs in several different colleges in her geographic area and identified a pet grooming course and we went with her to meet the professor and they just they hit it off and the professor was very open to having her participate. She did audit the course to begin with and ended up taking it for credit later, but it was more because she audited first because she had never taken any type of academic class in her all of her high school experience, so this was brand new to her. But I think really starting with one student build your confidence, the student’s confidence, the faculty, all the family members, everybody who is involved to figure out how to make it work and then you can start to move it systemically.

MS. BASFORD: This is Candy from Ohio. I just want to respond to a couple of things. I have been to Scott Miller in West Virginia and some other folks, that we have approached this with all our program. In fact as the program had been at the community college we probably would have avoided it just from my personal experiences in public school, but we waited until (Katie) graduated from some school and she has been at the community college for five years going part time and earning credits. So there are lots of ways to do this and it doesn’t have to be dependent upon a program. Two thoughts: one, a concern that many of the things I have heard especially Meg, your reports about some of the things you are finding with the model programs, is a concern I have that we may be in fact reinforcing the idea that some people are not college material. And the other side of that is, I would hope that anybody who is interested in education would begin to explore the possibilities of expanding who attends college as a tremendous opportunity which I truly believe this is. But it’s not just an opportunity for people with disabilities and it’s also not just an opportunity for people without disabilities to get an education about disabilities. This is an opportunity to expand exponentially what knowledge is and what cognition really is when people who are diverse come together to learn. I know that makes them philosophical but I actually think it’s in the literature and everywhere we look, this is a tremendous opportunity and I would really be sad if we miss that. And that’s basically my comment. I am afraid that we are missing that. When we focus on the person with the disability and the outcomes of education – of a job or whatever – there is much broader opportunities here for people who are interested in education.

MS. HART: I couldn’t agree with you more. This is absolutely about what you are describing. It’s also –
and I am sorry I did not mention – there is another category, if you will, just to be able to talk about on using that terms and these are the folks who have done it all along – their family members and individual students themselves who have made this happen, and they are not in a program or model or there has been no professionalism around it, that is great. The one part about that is not as positive is that we don’t know who all those individuals are. I have talked to a lot of families on a weekly basis across the country and what I hear over and over and over again is, “Gee, I wish I knew how so and so did that in Nevada or in California or in Massachusetts.” We are not sharing the lessons learned.

DR. GRIGAL: Yeah, I also think that your comments are really important, Candy, and I think that there is a broad range of issues here and what you are talking about is really truly what is the essence of education. It’s about going and improving yourself just for the sake of improving yourself and enjoying and having the experience and making connections just like anybody else who goes to college and grows from the experience, whether they were successful in a class or not. I think that’s really important, but I think Debra’s comments about documentation and sharing – if we are going to have college as not only a viable but exciting opportunity for all students regardless of their abilities, we need to – based on the history here and that the attitudes that have prevailed unfortunately towards the limited outcomes for students with disabilities in the past – document some of these outcomes to say, “Hey, look! These students can achieve great things, we need to continue to provide staffing and support and funding and excitement at the school system level from the time the students are in kindergarten.” But with especially the way that public school monies are dependent on federal funding and federal funding is dependent upon increasingly high standards of expectation in research-based and evidence-based practices, we as researchers and professionals in this area have a responsibility to really try and document those outcomes in some ways so that we can continue to build this force.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Yes and I would suggest that people take a look at documenting fringe activities. Because it seems like what we are doing and what some of the people that are out there on their own are doing sort of represents the things that are happening on the fringe – kind of out there. And that’s fine with me that I am on the fringe, but it seems like there might be some interesting – I don’t want to say comparison – but some interesting learning and a different kind of data that might need to be gathered. I am not sure how to do that because we are not part of a program, but if we only document the programs then we have only reinforced the programs. There has got be a way of documenting peoples’ life and that includes not just students with disabilities being documented and what are the outcomes for all the kids too – gee, that might be an important question since I have got two other kids in college so there is three in here in college. So it’s an interesting question for anybody, not just the person with the disability.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Yeah, I think you are right, I think those are all really good issues.

MS. MARTINEZ: This is Donna Martinez. Can you speak to the reauthorization of IDEA that’s coming up and concerns in transition? We have the higher education act that you know works right now and what do you feel how those two pieces of legislation might impact where is it going to go and how we are going to get there? You did mentioned the issue of funding and money and of course tucked inside there somewhere is the IES testing and the gold standard of how to do the appropriate assessment although Lloyd Frist did mention that he is open to concept of single subject studies now. Can you speak to those legislation pieces and getting it off the road?

DR. GRIGAL: Okay, I think one of the major impacts of NCLB on IDEA or it is worthwhile to start with the reauthorization of IDEA on some of the things, that one of the bills is to eliminate annual IEPs for students 18-21 and to just have one plan for three years. I think that’s a pretty scary option when it comes to accountability – when it comes to NCLB it’s amazing. Life skills programs where many of these students have been served in the past would be eliminated. You know there might be programs but there is no [life skills] curriculum, all students would be tested on the general ed curriculum. So I think the ramifications are huge and long term I don’t think we are going to necessarily know the outcomes of those for a couple of years as people start to really implement how you document adequate yearly progress.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Well, I don’t think in NCLB they were thinking about students 18 and older.

FEMALE SPEAKER: No, but in IDEA the reauthorization they are.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Absolutely, but the two are not well aligned there.

FEMALE SPEAKER: No, they are not aligned in many ways.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Bob, did you have any comments on those two pieces of legislation?

DR. STODDEN: I think you guys pretty much covered it. I am going to have to cut you off and I think we are reaching the witching hour here. So let me just sum up real quickly and really I would like to thank both Meg and Debra, excellent comments, excellent presentations, and very knowledgeable responses to questions. I would like to mention a couple resources that if our listeners would like to do further reading.

  • There is a special issue of Education Training and Developmental Disabilities which is the journal for CEC, the developmental disabilities division of the Council For Exceptional Children, a special issue on postsecondary education and intellectual disabilities just came out last week and if you are not a member of CEC or of the developmental disabilities division of CEC, you can go to the CEC Web site and to that division and you can preview that special edition at Both of our speakers on the call today authored on that edition and it’s an excellent set of papers and articles on this topic, all obviously very current because it has just come out.
  • Also, any of you that are going to the CEC conference in New Orleans in a couple of weeks, there is a full-day strand on preparation for postsecondary education on Friday of the week. You can actually spend the whole day in the sessions focused on postsecondary education and people with disabilities and there will be sessions specifically on postsecondary education and intellectual disabilities.
  • And I would like to mention one other source, I think particularly the last couple of discussions were around studying disability and the implications of the study of disability. And there is a new journal called the Review of Disability Studies, an international journal which has a couple of editions out, and if you are interested in that area, it is basically the discussion of disability by people with disabilities. And the edition that will be coming out in April will actually be a discussion of people with disabilities in postsecondary education. It’s a little bit different perspective. What I will do is give you the Web site for that journal. The Review of Disability Studies Web site is and you can access free of charge the first issue that is posted. You will be able to preview the second issue that is coming out on postsecondary education at that site. The Web site for the National Center for the Study of Postsecondary Education Supports is Meg, do you want to give your Web site again?

DR. GRIGAL: Sure—it’s On Campus Outreach, located at and to follow up on your CEC presentations, OCO will be presenting how to evaluate programs and services and postsecondary settings on Saturday at CEC.

DR. STODDEN: Great. Debra, I know you are doing a new Web site also, do you want to add any information on that?

MS. HART: Yes, thanks Bob. One of our latest activities for the National Center on the Study of Postsecondary Education Supports is developing a portal to this whole topic. So, if you go on that site, you will be able to link to Meg and anyone else that we can find who is doing anything related to this topic. That we are going to be launching that at the end of this month. So, if you e-mail me with your contact information, in turn I will make sure when it goes live, that folks who are interested will get notice of that. So, again my e-mail is

DR. STODDEN: Okay. I would like to thank everyone on the call and especially our two speakers for their excellent presentations. And I apologize slightly for going over; I think we are about five minutes past 4:00 Eastern. But again, I would like to thank everybody and wish you a good evening and that concludes our call for today.



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