Transcript of NCSET teleconference call held on January
National Standards for Secondary Education and Transition
for All Youth
David R. Johnson, Ph.D., Director
National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
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MS. JOHNSON: Good afternoon and welcome to the
teleconference entitled “National Standards for Secondary
Education and Transition for All Youth.” I’m Donna Johnson,
a Research Fellow with the National Center for Secondary Education
and Transition. We are pleased to have our director, Dr. David Johnson,
present for us the national standards and quality indicators. Dr.
Johnson is also director of the Institute on Community Integration
and professor in the Department of Educational Policy and Administration,
College of Education and Human Development at the University of
Minnesota. Dr. Johnson has also served as a consultant to several
national, regional, and state organizations including NIDRR, National
School-to-Work Office, Rehabilitation Services Administration, The
National Alliance of Business, The Council of Exceptional Children,
and several Congressional committees. Dr. Johnson has published
numerous journal articles, book chapters, research monographs, technical
reports, and products on topics concerning secondary education,
special education, rehabilitation, transition, school-to-work, and
A draft of the national standards is available on the NASET Web
site at www.nasetalliance.org in PDF
and Word formats.
DR. JOHNSON: This is a nice opportunity to talk
to you about something that we’re very excited about. I’d
also like to just acknowledge that Kelli Crane has had a very significant
hand, along with Donna, and many other staff here and many partners
across the country in bringing this set of issues forward. Kelli
will not be speaking today, but she’s on the phone, so I just
wanted to acknowledge that she is with us today.
We were just speaking with the operator and I was kind of taken
aback, because we have over 95 lines that were kicked in here, which
means that either this topic is very important or this is a free
day for a lot of people. This is something we feel very strongly
that is very important to the field and we feel very thankful to
be in a position to talk to you about it today.
The Web site should have provided you with a draft document called
National Standards for Secondary Education and Transition for All
Youth. The background on this is that we have, along with many of
you, struggled with establishing dialogue at the state and local
levels relative to “Who are the stakeholders who should be
involved? How do you establish broad enough frameworks to begin
to think about education as a process for all students?” We
began to think about how all students will achieve, and achieve
not only academic results but also postschool results.
There are many of you across the country that are familiar with
these different types of standard-setting activities, different
types of indicators that have been developed, and different ways
to guide professional dialogue around “How do we create the
best possible educational systems in this country that serve all
youth?” Part of the dilemma has been that some of the systems
that have been developed for that purpose and to benefit those explicit
purposes have been taking apart a piece of the puzzle. For example,
there are standards and indicators that have been developed to address
specific areas of career development and preparation. There are
specific standards that have been developed by the National Association
of Elementary and Middle School Principals to guide leadership activities
within schools—setting standards and quality indicators to
drive those. We and many others, not just in special education,
but also in general education and other broader fields in workforce
development, have over the last couple of years recognized that
we need to begin to think about how we can converge on a common
set of shared indicators that attempt to think about the entirety
of public education and beyond, to create a common set of standards
from which we can begin to think about system-level improvements
within state and local programming for young people.
The National Alliance on Secondary Education and Transition (NASET),
not to be confused with NCSET, is a national voluntary coalition
first brought together in November 2003. It is a national professional
group where we engage people who are involved in national organizations
who had memberships that we felt it would be important to influence
in a way that focuses on particular concerns of developing a common
Some of the organizations are very familiar to you. They include
people in general education, special education, career and technical
education, youth development, workforce development, parent organizations,
and advocacy organizations. Some of them include prestigious, large
organizations with heavy policy agendas, such as the National Governors
Association, National Education Association, the National School
Boards Association, and others that are specific to special education
policy and practice like the National Association of State Directors
of Special Education. Those involved in workforce development include
such as the Workforce Investment Board, the Council of State Directors
of Vocational Rehabilitation Programs, and the Parent Teacher Association.
We have over 40 organizations identified on the NASET member list.
These organizations have participated actively through a series
of meetings that we have had the privilege of facilitating. We are
not the director of this, we are merely a group that thought, along
with these other organizations, that it would be timely for us to
begin a dialogue. We applied some resources to help pull this together
and to do some of the facilitation, to host conference calls, like
this, and to put together products. The ideas and what you find
represented here are within the shared perspective of those 40-45
NASET was established for three primary purposes:
- To build a consensus around and identify what you would need
in order to achieve successful participation in high schools or
secondary settings, employment, etc.;
- To begin to prioritize and address significant issues of national
scale that have an impact on the provision of effective secondary
education and transition services and policies for all youth;
- To develop a set of research-based standards and indicators,
such that there is documentation and a platform of active research
that documents that these are relevant and important and that
there are useful applications available that have been tested
and are valid for implementation.
Why do we do this? Why should we try this? Why did other organizations
find this important? There are some very obvious dimensions to this.
One is the current national policy focus on serving
all students. No Child Left Behind, which came into
effect in 2002, emphasizes all students, including students with
disabilities. We are all aware of and we are all participants in
this process, particularly the ramifications as it relates to adequate
yearly progress [AYP], the testing and assessment programs, and
other applications of achieving access to the general education
curriculum through the IDEA Amendments of 1997. President Bush is
ushering a high school agenda through the White House, so an emphasis
here that we need to examine in relation to an emphasis on No Child
Left Behind, focusing on high school students, for which all students
are critically identified within the framework.
Second is awareness that schools cannot go it alone.
Interagency collaboration requires that all partners be present
in order to develop comprehensive programs. I think we can begin
to argue the fact that to create systems change we need to include
all people who are part of the systems that are about to change,
in a useful way, such that we can address the entirety of the educational
system and its population.
Third is ensuring all youth full access to essential
learning opportunities. To do this we have to focus
on all students’ questions. In other words, we can’t
compartmentalize programs to say that there is a unique and discreet
group of students who need this particular program or that particular
program. The full array of options within high schools and beyond
need to be available and accessible. I think we need to view it
from that perspective and move forward.
Fourth are family expectations for their child’s
participation in the broadest possible array of the high school
programs and beyond is also well documented. After
years of parent education, parents are becoming familiar with what
their expectations are for their children and those expectations
We also have some particular observations from our own standpoint
in working in the field. There are a variety of frameworks that
are available from both state and local contexts, but some of them
do not include the whole picture. The people we ran into would ask
us to send them a framework that they would use for self-assessment,
strategic planning, and evaluation. They wanted standards to use
to benchmark their progress. We might send the Middle School Associations
standards and benchmarks and they would reply saying it only addressed
a certain part of what they were interested in thinking about. We
would send another set and get a reply that asked for a document
that addressed another piece. Those are some of the needs that have
The process that we used to develop the framework was to work
with these organizations to cast them to the thinking, “What
might be a useful, simple, basic way of organizing this entire process
of generating standards and indicators?” It was broken down
into five broad areas: schooling, career preparation, youth development,
parent involvement, and connecting activities or interagency types
of work. These served as an umbrella within which we began to work
and begin to pull together work groups convened in Washington, DC
for almost a full year to begin to craft these and to do an iterative
process of driving these indicators and standards toward some greater
clarity and certainly shared importance and value and, ultimately,
consensus, to what they are now.
They are listed as a draft product on the Web site. We are continuing
to work with the NASET members to make sure that we have all of
their additional commentary on these. We have seen this and are
using this in various ways currently to support some of our own
technical assistance with state and local programs. You should regard
this as a fairly secure, intact, and nearing completion document,
to be used for our purposes and yours.
The workgroups were composed of participants from the NASET membership
itself. This is the body of 40-45 national organizations that were
assembled. We also engaged several other stakeholders in the process
including specific people with expert knowledge and various experience
bases like university professors, advocates, policymakers, governmental
positions, and regional and local representatives. They were all
part of the process of trying to make sure that what we are doing
is valid and representative to what has been assigned for the states,
as well as local levels, in terms of what constitutes a comprehensive
and effective base of standards to achieve positive results for
all young people.
We had a meeting December 9 of this past year in Washington, DC
where we started to look very quickly at the implementation levels
of this as perceived by some of our NASET partners. A big question
is “So what? To what end? What/how will other people use this?”
I think we have had some very encouraging and very important developments.
Here at the National Center you will see how we viewed this national
set of standards and indicators as the backbone of what we are doing
in terms of structuring a plan with our other partners, to give
you an idea on what their ideas are. Many will put this on their
Web site and promote its application and use within a variety of
settings across general education, special education, career and
technical education, workforce development, parent organizations,
and the like. To give you some examples:
- La Raza, a national Latino
organization, has come forward with a commitment, within a certain
set of new demonstration projects that will be established nationwide
to use the framework as a guide to evaluation, planning, and reviewing
of these new demonstration efforts.
- The Council for Exceptional
Children has made an ongoing commitment to place the NASET
standards and indicators within their current curriculum that
deals with the lifework curriculum process.
- The National Association of
State Directors of Special Education will endorse this set
of indicators. Some of these national organizations are in a position,
being apolitical, to be able to officially endorse the standards.
Many of these organizations are going through the process to endorse
this set of standards, to promote their use and application among
the State Directors of Special Education, and to find ways to
incorporate this information in various outreach and information-sharing
parts of their national organization.
- The National Association of
Workforce Development Professionals, also represented in NASET,
will endorse this on February 5th at their board meeting, but
they’re also in the process of revising their certification
standards for workforce development professionals. And they have
asked if the use of the NASET framework and particular sets of
standards would help them to reflect - if it can embed some of
these standards within their own certification standards for workforce
professionals. There’s no argument with us to that end.
- The National School
Boards Association is very interested in not only posting
this on their Web site, but having the opportunity to have presentations
on this at the National School Boards Association, and not just
national meetings, but also at their regional and state meetings.
There is an opportunity for some outreach to local school board
members. As a former school board member, I would love to have
this in my hands to be able to help me understand what might be
part of a high school program that I should be reflecting on or
thinking about with those who are part of the district’s
I’m going to turn it over to Donna to talk a little bit
about this. Many of you are aware that we are about to release information
that will lead to our convening the National Leadership Summit in
Washington, DC on June 14-15. As part of that, we’re going
to discuss how we will embed the standards into that process.
I also want to make sure that we have a good chunk of time to
answer questions, because this is very new for many of you. It is
an attempt to bring something forward very quickly to you.
MS. JOHNSON: As David mentioned, we’re
planning on using the national standards as the backbone for the
National Leadership Summit that is convening June 14-15 at the Capital
Hilton. We are very pleased to report that this year we’re
able to support three team members from each state. We anticipate
that registration will open early next week. And you’ll find
that information on the NCSET Web site, again, at http://www.ncset.org/.
The goal of the 2005 National Leadership Summit is to convene
state-level teams and policymakers to examine the progress made
in the implementation of strategic action plans developed at the
2003 Summit and to further build state/territory capacity to improve
high school experiences that lead to successful postschool outcomes
for all youth.
Participation in the 2005 National Leadership Summit is for state
leadership teams and the State Directors of Special Education will
be invited to send one state leadership team from their state or
territory. You can find more information on our Web site.
We are planning on using the standards and indicators for the
Leadership Summit in several ways. The first is in the self-assessment
tool that will be conducted by each state team. We will encourage
each state team to complete the self-assessment that will look at
schooling, career preparatory activities, youth development and
leadership, family involvement, and connecting activities. We are
also including data collection and youth as part of the content
sessions, due to participants’ interest.
In conducting the self-assessment as a team, we’ll ask everyone
to review the national standards and quality indicators and then
rank them. This will help each state team to focus on what they
want to work on first and what their goals are to be completed at
the Summit and the work thereafter.
The second way that we plan to use it is in framing the content
sessions. We’re aligning a series of content sessions with
the national standards and indicators. We’ve put together
14 concurrent sessions that are around each of the five areas, plus
data collection and use. To give you an example of the types of
topics that we have confirmed for the concurrent session, Don Deshler
and Peggy McCartle will be addressing adolescent literacy as part
of our schooling framing area, and Diane Bassett and Eduardo Garcia
will address how to align career preparation and state standards
as part of our career preparation area.
The third way that we’re planning on using the standards
and indicators is in framing our teleconference schedule from January
through June. On February 22 at 1:00 p.m. (CST) Dr. Martha Thurlow
will present on Implications of No Child Left Behind on Standards
and Assessment, part of our schooling framing area. We want people
to have more in-depth opportunities for information from the teleconferences,
because we have a wealth of information lined up for the Summit.
We want to make sure that people are as prepared as possible.
We will open up questions from the audience now. We would like
you to state your name and the state that you are calling from before
MS. RYAN: This is Laurel Ryan from Tennessee at
the UT-Bowling Green Center, a center for developmental disabilities,
and I was just on a statewide conference call this morning where
I was told that the State Board of Education is opposed to the idea
of creating two levels of graduation. This falls in with No Child
Left Behind. I don’t know if this is a better question for
that, but I thought I’d throw it open and find out if other
states are having this reaction that we can only do high-level/high-stakes
assessments and there’s nothing else for kids except a Certificate
of Attendance, which doesn’t really mean anything in the workforce
for kids who cannot achieve high-stakes tests achievement.
DR. JOHNSON: We’ve looked at past state
reviews of what’s going on in states relative to exit criteria
standards, credentialing, diploma options, those types of things.
I think for many there is a struggle going on centering on attempting
to address all of what we need to address to prepare young people
for the eventuality of leaving school. We know and we’re all
aware of this. There is nothing to be concerned about saying this,
but No Child Left Behind brings forward a very important emphasis
on academic achievement. It makes sure that the high school curriculum
has a strong emphasis and a priority toward that and we understand
Right, wrong, indifferent, I’m going to just say that what
the framework tries to do is bring back into focus those critical
areas that deal with career preparation, workforce development,
parent engagement, and the importance of interagency collaboration.
Whether that goes on in Tennessee or in Minnesota, the dialogue
has to be what is important to the participants in the stakeholder
process. We have to be able to better align how students learn and
achieve academically within the other domains than just schooling.
You can’t start to look at this as a discreet thing called
academic preparation. Academic preparation occurs through a variety
of experiences, life experiences, functional experiences, functional
training, as well as other things. We need to have the people sitting
at the table to begin to have the dialogue such that it’s
recognized and understood that other experiences could also help
the students learn how to read, do mathematics, to be able to understand
science applications, history, and the like. The framework simply
attempts to do that. Tennessee, along with all the other states
and territories, are struggling and grappling with all these issues
currently, so believe me, you are not alone.
MS. PALMER: I am Bronwyn Palmer, in Little Rock.
Are the standards already approved? Are they still in draft form?
DR. JOHNSON: They are approved. It’s a
national voluntary organization that was formed. They’re coming
together only for the purpose of doing what they feel is important
in a voluntary capacity to create and to pass on a set of standards
and indicators that they feel represents their understanding of
all of this. There is their official endorsement and collective
agreement that are out there now for public use and consumption.
I think if you’re looking at trying to ground them in “Where
did these come from and are they official?” I think you certainly
can understand that they represent a consensus of 40-45 national
organizations, which is good enough for me.
MS. REDMAN: This is Susan Redman with the Florida
Department of Health Children’s Medical Services, a Title
V agency for children and youth with special health care needs.
I am excited to see Youth Development and Youth Leadership under
3.1 in the standards and indicators including physical and emotional
health. I think it’s been a long and hard road to get health
conversations to the table with this subject. Perhaps you would
want to adjust the title of this, National Standards for Secondary
Education and Comprehensive Transition or All-Life Transition, because
I think there is a narrow focus when people have brought up this
DR. JOHNSON: Agreed. We did have organizations
that certainly addressed these issues as very important. Healthy
& Ready to Work was very important on the work-group level and
made many important contributions on this. We’ve tried to
make sure that this was representative of the interests that were
MS. JOHNSON: I’d also like to add that
at the National Summit, we will be have a concurrent session on
mental health needs of youth and also a concurrent session that
addresses health care issues.
MS. REDMAN: You might want to think about adding
health literacy to help all youth and young adults understand how
to approach the health care system; what’s involved with that;
how to be successful; understanding insurance; and all those things
that all of us, as adults, have had to slog through over the years.
MS. LANE: This is Ann Marie Lane from Maryland.
Ms. Johnson mentioned that NCSET will sponsor three members to the
state teams to come to Washington. If the states are willing to
pay for additional members, can other members attend?
DR. JOHNSON: Yes, as an incentive to encourage
state participation we will sponsor three of the team members. We
have an expectation that that you will take the three, use it wisely,
and then identify some others and bring them. State teams will generally
be five to nine people.
MR. NURSE: This is Tom Nurse from Florida. I
was part of some of the processes on family involvement standards.
I wanted to thank everybody for that becoming such an important
portion of the standards. I know this was an early part of the development
and all of the other standards have had a longer history. The more
we can involve and value families, the more significant the outcomes
MS. HURT: This is Mary Hurt from Region 18 Education
Service Center in Midland, Texas. I wanted to congratulate everyone
who’s been working on this. The standards look excellent.
Would the dissemination of the national standards only be through
teleconferencing and the National Summit? Will it be up to the different
organizations that have been part of the development? How do you
anticipate other avenues of disseminating the standards?
DR. JOHNSON: First, we will make it available
and very public on the Web site; second, we will attempt a series
of presentations to familiarize people with it and have an opportunity
for discussion. There is a lot more work to be done than just putting
it on the Web site. The issue is still how do you get it into application?
This is where we’re working in concert with several organizations
including the National Association of Secondary School Principals,
La Raza, and others to try to figure out how can we embed the framework
into some of the ongoing work of those associations. That would
mean tying it into national conferences, working with individual
groups, setting up a subgroup to establish dialogue, and others.
There will be different ways that show up. We’re trying to
keep the momentum going and you’ll see it in different waves
for different uses from different organizations. Our goal is to
make it very accessible to you.
MS. JOHNSON: We will also develop specific tools.
What you see as a set of standards and indicators will be transformed
immediately with our partners with their consensus and approval
into a self-assessment process. Whether you’re in Tennessee,
Florida, or Minnesota, the stakeholders that represent these five
domains can start to ask one another about how well and to what
extent is the state relationship to these standards, what gaps can
be identified, and what priorities can be set relative to improving
the overall system for all students? Then we will align all of this
into a research database so that you will have access to information
about what works, what is valid, what has been tested, and how can
we improve so we can create links to these standards with good and
useful information that is research-based.
That is the heavier piece to work on and to get going. The issue
is that this set of standards and indicators is being used in certain
state and local pilot situations where we’re working with
interagency groups to review these, to set as a self-assessment.
MR. RICHARDS: This is Curtis Richards. I’m
with the Institute for Educational Leadership in Washington, DC.
Several of us were very instrumental in helping work through this.
I just want to reiterate a couple of things that you’ve said
for the folks who are concerned about the push between academic
and testing and vocational, and those who are concerned about things
around what we are calling connecting activities, the set of things
that youth have to get access to while they’re in school in
order to succeed postschool that often fall through the cracks.
I really believe that as you study these indicators, you will find
that they’re very powerful tools for your boards of education
at the state and local level and for policymakers to be able to
sort out who is supposed to be doing what pieces. This is a very
exciting step forward for the entire field of transition.
DR. JOHNSON: I want to acknowledge the Institute
for Educational Leadership and your role in this, too, Curtis, as
being very helpful and instrumental in bringing this forward through
many conversations. Thank you very much.
MS. RYAN: This is Laurel in Tennessee, again.
I’m taking this back to my coalition on education and going
to start self-assessment so that we can start a dialogue. Our State
Board of Education has just shut down on anything beyond academic,
but we’re going to try and use this. I appreciate it very
much and I appreciate this conference call.
DR. JOHNSON: I’d appreciate it, as others
of you find helpful and useful ways to apply the framework that
you e-mail us and let us know. Use our general e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or especially to Donna and I, just to let us know what’s going
on from your perspective, how it might be useful, ways in which
you find it could have a different application, or look at some
of the standards and indicators. This thing may always say “Draft”—hopefully
the standards and indicators will remain constant for a period of
time, but it will be reviewed. It will be reviewed in practice.
In other words, it will be used in different ways that for purposes
of improving it, as well. We are very delighted with the impact.
This has helped to bring clarity as a national technical assistance
center, in terms of building a clear focus with states over a common
conversation which correlates with the general education, special
education, workforce development, and all of the other boundaries
simultaneously. It gets us into the picture of workforce development’s
role and allows us to establish that dialogue. I think it’s
been very helpful for us and that is why the National Leadership
Summit will be constructed around this and why we are working with
other partners in the national alliance to look for productive and
useful ways to see how those organizations would choose to use this
and then report that as we can.
MS. LEE: This is Freda Lee in North Carolina.
When will you be putting the agenda for the June Summit on your
MS. JOHNSON: In the next few days. A letter is
also going out next week to your state director.
MS. TOLLIVER: This is Evelyn Tolliver from Los
Angeles. Is this Summit going to be open to only state directors?
Or are you going to allow other groups to attend this Summit?
DR. JOHNSON: The process is that we will be
serving explicitly leadership teams that are formed at the state
level who are primary contacts for us, and given the nature of our
funding base, at the Office of Special Education Programs, is to
communicate this through and to the State Directors of Special Education.
MS. LEE: Is there an expectation that it would
be the same team that participated last year?
DR. JOHNSON: We would like to believe that the
continuity that you have established in North Carolina has remained
intact and important to bring in people who are common to this process
from the past. We do understand that teams change compositions.
People are added on for reasons that are important to broaden the
conversation and to prioritize around a certain set of issues. We
hope that your team you started with is intact but understand that
there will be changes.
MS. M. JOHNSON: This is Melodie Johnson from
RSA. I just wanted to let people know that the Rehabilitation Services
Administration (RSA) has planned to have a national transition conference
the same week as the Summit, June 16-17 in Washington, DC at the
Capital Hilton, the same hotel as the Summit. The idea is to complement
the work that’s being done at a national level on transition.
RSA’s focus will be more centered around vocational rehabilitation
work and services towards students with disabilities that are leaving
the schools and going into the Vocational Rehabilitation program.
DR. JOHNSON: The letters that are forthcoming
this week to the State Directors of Special Education will include
a Save the Date RSA flier talking very specifically about the RSA
event, which is a complimentary opportunity for further information
and strategies. For those of you who are not participating in state
teams and have an interest in this, we will continue to have updates
regarding the national standards here on our Web site. I thank you
for being on the call and we appreciate your time. Thank you.
MS. JOHNSON: I want to remind everyone of our
next teleconference, again, with Dr. Martha Thurlow, on February
22, 1:00 Central Time. Please watch our Web site (http://www.ncset.org/)
for information on upcoming teleconferences. We appreciate everyone’s
END OF TELECONFERENCE
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