Transitioning with Families

NTACT: the Collaborative
6 min readJun 6, 2019

By Wen-hsuan Chang, Stephen Kwiatek, & the NTACT Knowledge Development Team

What is Parent/Family Involvement?

Parent/family involvement has been identified as a predictor of post-school success for youth with disabilities (Mazzotti et al., 2016; Test et al., 2009). Specifically, Test et al. (2009) found that when students had parents, who participated in more Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings during students’ 11th and 12th grade years, students were more likely to be engaged in post-school employment. Extending the findings of Test et al., Mazzotti et al. (2016) identified parent/family involvement as an in-school predictor of positive post-school employment and education for youth with disabilities. When describing parent/family involvement, the terminology has changed over time. For example, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 used the term parental involvement. The recently reauthorized Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) of 2015 changed parental involvement to included families using the term parent and family engagement. ESSA (2015) explained parental and family engagement occurs when conducting outreach to all parents and family. ESSA (2015) described examples potentially related to transition, including: (a) engaging families as joint members of developing local educational agency plans; (b) coordinating, providing technical assistance, and giving other necessary supports to help build capacity for schools and local education agencies to implement parent and family involvement activities to improve student and academic achievement (e.g., purposeful consultation with employers, business leaders, philanthropic organizations, or individuals who have expertise with engaging parents and families); and © coordinating and integrating engagement strategies for parents and families to the extent feasible, appropriate, or relevant with local, state, and federal laws (ESSA, 2015). Rowe et al. (2015) defined parental involvement as “parents/families/guardians are active and knowledgeable participants in all aspects of transition planning (e.g., decision making, providing support, attending meetings, and advocating for their child; p. 122). Broadening the terminology is important as families often include members beyond just parents (e.g., grandparents, guardians, aunts, uncles) who may be caregivers for youth with disabilities.

Why is Parent/Family Involvement Important?

Parent/family involvement can provide valuable information to help align educational programs with their children’s unique needs (Wandry & Pleet, 2009). Effective parent/family support during the transition planning process has proven beneficial to address the challenges faced in youth with disabilities. It can improve secondary transition planning and further promote postsecondary employment, education, and community living success for youth with disabilities (Wandry & Pleet, 2009).

To Increase Parent/Family Involvement and Expectations…

States can…

● Develop systems for information sharing between school and families

● Increase family involvement in IEP development

● Increase family knowledge of transition services

● Increase training and information to families around transition services and graduation requirements

Schools can…

● Clarify expectations for how often teachers should reach out to parents, while finding ways to give teachers more time for this essential work

● Engage parents in training opportunities (address transition-related school and adult support services, eligibility, and access)

● Interact respectfully with each family according to their unique cultural-linguistic differences and priorities

● Plan for transition early, engage families as partners to build a robust transition IEP and empower them as allies

● Partner with families to explore role models

● Partner with families to support their young person’s independence

● Empower families to trust their instincts about their youth’s future and help them build a network of support

● Work with families to support students’ school years success in all domains- academic, recreational, extracurricular, spiritual, and community participation

Building Parent/Family Involvement in the Republic of the Marshall Islands

Three local organizations in Republic of the Marshall Islands (i.e., Women United Together Marshall Islands [WUTMI], Marshall Islands Disabled Persons Organization, Marshall Islands Special Parents Association) under the support of Leadership in Disability and Achievement of Hawaii, collaborated together to provide parents, teachers, and students information about building parent/family involvement. These organizations provided trainings, information resources, and individual assistance for parents and family members of children with disabilities. Outreach activities included work with WUTMI’s Parents as Teachers (PaT) program and Ministry of Education (MOE) Parent Training collaborations. WUTMI’s PaT program works closely with parents providing information on child development and support on improving parenting practices. Parent Training and Information and MOE parent training collaborations have been supporting Public School System School Actions Plans which include improving parent involvement for students with disabilities. Additionally, Marshall Islands High School (MIHS) is providing additional counseling for parents on what they need to work on for student’s future. MIHS is also conducting more outreach to programs, such as Job Corps, National Training Council, and WUTMI, to support them in their efforts to work with students and families to raise awareness of the importance of attendance and graduation from high school. Staff are working with students and families on individualized interventions to support students in attending school.

NTACT’s Resources to Support Parent/Family Involvement and Expectations

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 parent/family involvement and expectations.

Parent and Family Involvement Annotated Bibliography

Family engagement related resources

Other resources for improving parent/family involvement and expectations:

Center for Parent Information and Resources:

Providing universal technical assistance & resources to the 96 Parent Centers serving families with children (age 0–26) with disabilities & youth with disabilities

The National Resources for Access, Independence, Self-determination and Employment (RAISE):

Help youth and young adults with disabilities to be real partners in attaining the education, supports and services they need to achieve competitive employment, independent living and empowerment.

Open Doors for Multicultural Families

Find the parent center in your state:


Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq.

Jennings, D., & Badger, J. (2016). A holistic capacity-building framework for family-youth-school partnerships in transition: Meaningful family engagement to improve transition planning and services. NTACT Webinar. Retrieved from:

Kohler, P. D., Gothberg, J. E., Fowler, C., and Coyle, J. (2016). Taxonomy for transition programming 2.0: A model for planning, organizing, and evaluating transition education, services, and programs. Western Michigan University. Available at

Kraft, M. A. (2017). Engaging parents through better communication systems. Educational Leadership. Retrieved from:

Mapp, K. L., & Kuttner, P. J. (2014). Partners in education: A dual capacity-building framework for family–school partnerships. Retrieved from

Mazzotti, V. L., Rowe, D. A., Sinclair, J., Poppen, M., Woods, M. E., & Shearer, M. L. (2016). Predictors of post-school success: A systematic review of NLTS2 secondary analyses. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 39, 196–215. doi:10.1177/2165143415588047

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth. (2005). Guideposts for Success. Washington, D.C.: Institute for Educational Leadership. Online at

National Technical Center on Transition. (2019). Predictor Implementation School/District Self-Assessment. Retrieved from

No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, 20 U.S.C. 70 § 6301 et seq. (2002)

Pleet-Odle, A., Aspel, N., Leuchovius, D., Roy, S., Hawkins, C., Jennings, D., … & Test, D. W. (2016). Promoting high expectations for postschool success by family members: A “To-Do” list for professionals. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 39(4). doi:10.1177/2165143416665574

Rowe, D. A., Alverson, C. Y., Unruh, D. K., Fowler, C. H., 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

Roy, S., & Gross, J. (2018). Engaging families and elevating expectations: A focus on employment. Retrieved from:

Test, D. W., Mazzotti, V. L., Mustian, A. L., Fowler, C. H., Kortering, L., & Kohler, P. (2009). Evidence-based secondary transition predictors for improving postschool outcomes for students with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32, 160–181. doi:10.1177/0885728809346960

White House ESSA Fact Sheet. (2015.). Retrieved from

Wandry, D. L., & Pleet, A. M. (Eds.). (2009). Engaging and empowering families in secondary transition: A practitioner’s guide. Virginia: Council for Exceptional Children.



NTACT: the Collaborative

NTACT:C is a Technical Assistance and Dissemination project, funded by the OSEP and the RSA, Cooperative Agreement Number H326E140004.