By Valerie Mazzotti & the NTACT Knowledge Development Team
Collaboration is key to ensuring students with disabilities graduate high school ready for college and careers! Did you know that Interagency Collaboration is an in-school predictor of positive post-school outcomes for students with disabilities (Test et al., 2009)? Rowe et al. (2015) defined interagency collaboration as “a clear, purposeful, and carefully designed process that promotes cross-agency, cross-program, and cross-disciplinary collaborative efforts leading to tangible transition outcomes for youth” (p. 122).
Ensuring high schools have interagency teams in place to facilitate transition planning is a critical step towards improving outcomes for students with disabilities. Interagency teams should include:
· family members;
· teachers from special education, general education, and career technical education;
· guidance counselors;
· career technical education teachers;
· vocational rehabilitation counselors; and
· school administrators.
Interagency teams should also consider any other community service organization members needed to address the needs of students with disabilities to ensure they are connected to necessary supports to be successful post-high school.
At the state level, Maryland has a strong interagency team. Maryland’s interagency team includes representatives from the State departments of disabilities, education, rehabilitation services, workforce and adult learning, and local education agencies.
CIRCLES: A Research-Based Model to Support Interagency Collaboration
CIRCLES is a research-based model that involves three levels of interagency collaboration including a Community Level Team, School Level Team, and IEP Team. While each team has a specific purpose, teams work together to address transition planning needs and issues of youth with disabilities to improve both in-school and post-school outcomes (Aspel, Bettis, Quinn, Test, & Wood, 1999; Flowers et al., 2018; Povenmire-Kirk et al., 2015). Below you will find resources for CIRCLES, a state example of interagency collaboration, and additional resources from NTACT that provide information about interagency collaboration.
Building Interagency Collaboration in Arkansas
At the local level, Arkansas has four local districts implementing CIRCLES (i.e., Rogers, Magnolia, Whitehall, and Harrisburg). Harrisburg has been implementing CIRCLES for two years. They are seeing change within the community related to connecting students with the services and community supports they need in high school to ensure they graduate ready for college and careers. Implementing CIRCLES has also increased the level of collaboration between the local high school, rehabilitation services, the Chamber of Commerce, employers, and educators within the community.
NTACT’s Resources to Support Interagency Collaboration
The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition’s (NTACT) work focuses on supporting states and local education, vocational rehabilitation, and career technical education agencies in building collaborative interagency teams to scale-up secondary transition evidence-based practices and predictors of post-school success (EBPPs). The following resources are designed to assist in interagency collaboration. This post will focus on interagency collaboration.
· Competitive Integrated Employment Toolkit — Provides a framework to assist state and local teams in collaborating to implement transition services to improve post school employment outcomes.
· Interagency Agreement Toolkit — Guidance on development of formal interagency agreements between the vocational rehabilitation and education agencies.
· Interagency Collaboration Practice Description — Overviews interagency collaboration as a research-based practice and provides information and resources about how interagency collaboration can increase competitive, integrated employment opportunities.
· Predictor Implementation Self-Assessment — This assessment is intended to provide
schools, districts, or other stakeholders with a framework for determining the degree to which a transition program is implementing practices likely to lead to more positive post-school outcomes for students with disabilities.
Taxonomy for Transition Programming 2.0 — Provides information about research-based practices to support implementation of a transition-focused education.
· Team Leader Sustainability Toolkit — Guidance to assist state and local transition teams to build, implement, and sustain interagency teams to improve services for secondary students with disabilities.
Aspel, N., Bettis, G., Quinn, P., Test, D. W., & Wood, W. M. (1999). A collaborative process for planning transition services for all students with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 22, 21–42.
Flowers, C., Test, D. W., Povenmire-Kirk, T., Diegelmann, K. M., Bunch-Crump, K., & Inman, A. K. (2016). A cluster randomized controlled trial of a multi-level model of interagency collaboration for students with disabilities. The Journal of Special Education, 51, 211–221.. doi: 10.1177/0022466917720764
Povenmire-Kirk, T., Diegelmann, K., Crump, K., Schnorr, C., Test, D. W., Flowers, C., & Aspel, N. (2015). Implementing CIRCLES: A new model for interagency collaboration in transition planning. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 42, 51–65. doi:10.3233/JVR-140723
Rowe, D. A., Alverson, C. Y., Unruh, D., Fowler, C., Kellems, R., & Test, D. W. (2015). A delphi study to operationalize evidence-based predictors in secondary transition. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 38, 113–126. doi: 10.1177/2165143414526429.
Test, D. W., Mazzotti, V. L., Mustian, A. L., Fowler, C. H., Kortering, L. J., & Kohler, P. H. (2009). Evidence-based secondary transition predictors for improving post-school outcomes for students with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32, 160–181.