Rhonda Sutton

Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership


College of Education

First Advisor

Coaxum III, James


Youth with disabilities--Services for; School-to-work transition


Elementary and Middle and Secondary Education Administration | Special Education and Teaching


Students with disabilities are less prepared to meet the challenges of adulthood, more likely to continue to live with their parents after high school, and engage in fewer social activities (Burgstahler & Kim-Rupnow, 2001). For many of these students, transition services are not being implemented and monitored as mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), therefore, the probability for a successful transition from high school to adulthood for these students is severely jeopardized. Transition planning is a formal process of long-range cooperative planning that will assist students with disabilities to successfully move from school into the adult world (NJDSPED, 2010). The goal of transition planning is to help students with disabilities plan for the future and have control over their lives. Effective collaboration, administrative support, professional development, programs, and materials will enable high schools to prepare their students with special needs for the transition from high school to adulthood. The purpose of this action research study was to develop and implement a "results-oriented" transition planning process that ensures IDEA transition services mandates are implemented from the IEPs to the classroom for secondary education students with disabilities. This study took place over a 19-month period and utilized a mixed methods approach with a transformative design to collect data. Data were retrieved through staff, faculty, administrators, and student questionnaires; focus groups; interviews; class observations; and analysis of students' work. The student pre-transition planning process questionnaire clearly revealed that students with disabilities at Michael J. Hawkins High School were not being prepared to transition from high school to adulthood. The transition planning activities were divided into10 weekly sessions: 1) Introduction and Reviewing Transition Planning Process Questionnaire; 2) Assess Interests & Skills; 3) Transition Assistance Resources; 4) Develop Goals, Priorities, & Career Plan; 5) Resume Writing; 6) Job Search & Job Hunting Techniques; 7) Dress for Success; 8) College as an Option; 9) Military, Apprenticeship, & Other Options, and 10) Post-Transition Planning Process Questionnaire. The student transition-planning portfolio is a strategic planning tool intended to help youth identify and achieve postsecondary goals (NCWD, 2010).The student transition-planning portfolios (STPP) were maintained and monitored by the researcher and accompanied the students during their high school years. The STPP clearly identified the competencies and skills students gained as a result of participating in the 'results-oriented' transition planning process. Based on the success rate of the students participating in this study, this research will serve as a resource to district-wide case managers to implement a 'results-oriented' transition planning process at their schools. In order to determine if the transition planning process sessions were effective for the students, I examined the Transition Planning Process Questionnaire Results from Week 1 and Week 10. Examining the results of their post-questionnaires, it was clear that these students felt more prepared to transition from high school to adulthood during Week 10 than they did Week 1. As a result of this action research study, the transition planning process will be an effective tool to increase the probability of success for secondary students with disabilities transitioning from high school to adulthood.