Degree of collaboration for successful transition outcomes.Transition is a process that recognizes the shift in age with the assumption of new and different responsibilities, but dependent on post school services. This discussion focuses on the development of collaboration models to assess transition outcomes. To proceed, the review of transition must be within the context of collaboration followed by a development of collaboration from an operational perspective. This foundation will provide a direction for model development. Finally, there will be a discussion of collaboration from the practical application of a process of providing a description of activities, the building of potential for outcomes based on measurement data, and the existing identified barriers.
The passage of key legislation mandated transition planning, services, and interagency coordination. The Carl Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act of 1998 (The Perkins Act), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 (IDEA), and The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 changed the focus of transition planning from something that might happen to something that must happen. Reauthorized in 2006, the Perkins Act held schools accountable for graduation, post-secondary education, and employment outcomes of students enrolled in career and technical education including coordination among federally funded programs and agencies as well as secondary and post-secondary education entities. With the reauthorization of IDEA (2004) transition planning for students, no later than age 16 was mandated requiring the identification of professionals to assist in the transition planning process, emphasizing interagency collaboration. The Rehabilitation Act (1973) and its amendments (1992; 1998) parallel the mandates found in IDEA with similar emphasis on outcome-focused planning and collaboration. Each of these laws promotes transition planning, interagency collaboration, and self determination to improve the adult outcomes for students with disabilities. The 2008 transition study conducted by the National Council on Disability (NCD), an independent federal agency making recommendations to the President and Congress on issues affecting 54 million Americans with disabilities, lists several recommendations for collaboration to increase the impact of the Rehabilitation Act on the employment and postsecondary education outcomes of eligible transition-age youth. However, even with the legal mandates and research, there currently is no vehicle to enhance collaboration and ultimately outcomes (Oertle & Trach, 2007). Special educators never or rarely coordinate referrals to adult service providers which indicates that much of the time special educators spend on activities that focus on adult outcomes is independent of other related service professionals' participation who specialize in such activities (Carlson, Brauen, Klein, Schroll, & Willig, 2002).
The realignment of systems to develop capacity beyond the traditional transition program (i.e., high school-based) began in 1990 with the transition mandate in IDEA (PL 101-476) and stated in exactly the same terms in the Rehabilitation Act of 1992 (PL 102-569), but not as a mandate. Those providers who directly impact students making a successful transition to adult life (e.g., vocational rehabilitation counselors, community rehabilitation providers, and centers for independent living personnel) are all essential partners to create transition by providing linkages to post school outcomes (e.g., employment). Public schools must make transition happen by the actualization of the connection to post school service. It appears vital that these professionals collaborate with each other to ensure the "coordinated set of activities" required by law (IDEA 2004; Rehabilitation Act 1998 and its amendments). This could begin when these various disciplines acknowledge that they provide the same types of services focused on preparing students for adult community participation, that they share in the transition process, and when coordinated, could be more effective and efficient through a partnership to combine their resources. While there are other stakeholders with valuable input (e.g., pediatricians, family members, employers) the schools and rehabilitation share a sole responsibility for transition through designated federal legislation. Rehabilitation providers possess the knowledge of what currently exists, or might be cultivated in the communities they serve. Their collaboration, could orchestrate a transition process rather than a set of activities conducted by schools.
Transition and Collaboration Context
The fields of special education and rehabilitation have adapted the term "transition" to describe to the movement of students with disabilities from school to independent, productive, satisfying post-school environments. Graduation from high school marks a student's passage into the community of adults and is often the most difficult transition in our society. Consequently, transition into the adult world presents many problems for young people in general, but often is more difficult for people with disabilities because this process remains particularly unclear and in some cases nearly impossible (Benz & Halpern, 1987; Knott & Asselin, 1999; Test, Aspel, & Everson, 2006). As a result, transition-age youth with disabilities lag behind their peers without disabilities in a variety of areas: employment, independent living, and enrollment in post secondary education (Blackorby & Wagner, 1996; Cameto, Levine, & Wagner, 2004; Wittenburg & Maag, 2002). In fact, in their seminal outcome research of 8000 students with disabilities, The National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS), Blackorby and Wagner (1996) stated 38% of students dropped out of school and also found that 37% attended a post-secondary education setting compared to 78% of their peers without disabilities. In addition, 57% of transition age youth were employed three to five years after graduation compared to 69% of their peers without disabilities.
To assist students to plan for transition, many different individuals from different systems must come together along with educators. The common denominator is transitioning students, even though systems may define and evaluate the process somewhat differently. While the differences may be semantics (e.g., IEP/IPE, entitlement/eligibility, graduation/case closure, vocational training/job placement) the fact is that these systems operate in different departments, require different legislation, and receive different resources. The provision of coordinated and related services are an integral part of a free and appropriate public education for students under Part B of IDEA, but the collaboration process is not clearly described. Related services are defined as essentially anything that may be required to assist a student with a disability to benefit from special education (deFur & Patton, 1999). Public education is a time-limited service, transition programming thus must include actually connecting to post school environments through the professionals who have expertise with disability issues post school to provide support. Therefore, some level of collaboration is critical and almost universally cited as necessary in the transition literature.
Collaboration is a systemic process that is individually determined. In other words, individuals decide within the context of their system. Baer, Daviso, Queen, and Flexer (2011) review of 4500 IEP's confirmed that students receive very different transition experiences. Transition planning starts with the teacher, and then, typically handled by members of the IEP Team, with other individuals becoming involved as needed. The team draws upon the expertise of the different members to pool their information to inform decisions or recommendations for the student. The student and his or her family are core members of the team to keep the team grounded, focused on the goals, and identifying support services while developing the plan. Other members of the team can include invited special education and general education teachers, administrators, and transition specialists informed about resources and adult services in the community (e.g., Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) and their agency partners). These VR partners traditionally provide post high school services and therefore should serve in some capacity on the transition planning team. These include service agencies for students with intellectual disabilities or mental health concerns such as the Mental Health Agency; Community Rehabilitation Providers (CRPs); and Centers for Independent Living (CILs). These agencies represent the service system that will replace the schools when the students leave. State vocational rehabilitation (VR) counseling professionals and their agency partners (i.e., rehabilitation professionals who work directly with state VR) are critical in assisting students with disabilities to transition to adult life.
In the absence of effective collaboration among transition service providers, there is potential for needless redundancy in individual programming and the more serious possibility that an essential component of service for an individual may be omitted (Baer et al., 2011). The former may result in the inefficient use of personnel time and resources, and the latter may lead directly to limiting the success of the student. For these collaborative efforts to be successful, it is imperative that those involved have a mutual understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities, as well as the beliefs and expectations of the other collaborative team members. If effective collaborations are not achieved, the desired outcomes for these students may not be accomplished, and students will be required to rely on their own skills or families.
Morningstar, Kleinhammer-Tramill, and Lattin (1999) traced the history of transition programs to identify the most effective transition practices using empirical data. The components that were consistently identified as critical focused on the utilization of interagency collaboration and family involvement. With the myriad of transition stakeholders, collective and collaborative practices along with knowledge sharing must occur to facilitate a smooth transition. Interagency collaboration has been discussed and studied as an essential component to the transition process for more than 25 years. Yet, even with theoretical, legislative, and federal backing to facilitate interagency agreements, the transition outcomes of students with disabilities have not improved significantly ("Keeping the Promises", 2003). Transition professionals are still unsure who is who and who does what (Agran, Cain, & Cavin, 2002; Oertle & Trach, 2007; Repetto, Web, Garvan, & Washington, 2002).
To address these issues, research must identify the systemic and individual collaborative activities which provide transition services across various stakeholders. Table 1 presents a set of activities to develop a summative and formative instrument, The Degree of Collaboration .for Transition (DCT), to determine the extent of collaboration, and to collect data to determine the range and types of collaboration activities. Ideally, these activities would be further defined by a list of indicators which would then be evaluated by the levels listed in Table 2. Evaluating the level and types of collaboration activities in relationship to Indicators 13 and 14 data to determine the outcomes of youth transitioning into the community could provide valuable insights. Research on collaboration will describe how the process can be measured, the level needed for particular outcomes, and if a constellation of activities are necessary for particular outcomes or which critical components can be substituted to circumvent barriers. The call for a study of collaboration was most recently made by Brewer, Karpur, Pi, Erickson, Unger, and Malzer (2011) in their evaluation of model transition programs. As has been the case up to this point, collaboration was cited as an important component, but little description or definition provided. There was also reference to critical need for study of collaboration with a summative instrument in their research of model programs, but no details were included.
Relatively little, if any, rigorous research has been conducted to determine the collaborative activities to improve transition outcomes, or the relationship to outcomes. Students with disabilities must have an IEP that includes coordinated, measurable, annual IEP goals and transition services that will reasonably enable the student to meet the post-secondary goals (Indicator 13). Students who have had IEPs, and are no longer in secondary schools are being competitively employed, enrolled in some type of postsecondary school, or both, within one year of leaving high school (Indicator 14). Transition has been primarily seen as a school-related program when in reality it must be the connection between two service systems to be successful. It is an active process not a passive program. Therefore, this research on collaboration must correlate with outcomes in relationship to degree of collaboration (DCT) to determine the relationship.
Theory of Collaboration
The theoretical framework that could guide the instrument development has been proposed in two psychometrically-validated instruments, the Interagency Collaboration Activities Scale (IACAS) (Greenbaum & Dedrick, n.d. and Dedrick & Greenbaum, 2011) and the Levels of Collaboration Scale (LCS) (Frey, Lohmeier, Lee, & Tollefson, 2006). These established models could be adjusted for the measurement of collaboration in relation to student outcomes. Orelove and Sobsey (1987) state that as is often the case when transition service professionals work with a student with a disability, it seems that collaboration produces numerous, complicated, redundant, and conflicting recommendations. Collaboration features individual action by each service provider through established formal communication channels. With assigned liaisons to avoid fragmentation of services to establish program planning, collaborative results surpass program implementation carried out in isolation. One person typically serves as a facilitator (e.g., transition specialist) of services and other members act as consultants to share and exchange discipline specific roles and responsibilities to maximize coordination of services. Thus, collaboration might best be achieved with a transdisciplinary team approach characterized by sharing information and skills across disciplinary boundaries. Bruder (1994) proposes that a transdisciplinary approach requires a greater degree of collaboration. This is in order to supersede discipline role differentiation and to become defined by the needs of the situation.
Regardless of the model, collaboration typically implies benefits, relationships, and outcomes. For collaboration to occur, all participants must believe that benefits are shared or mutual, that a relationship with responsibilities is understood or well-defined, and that the resulting outcomes would be similar or achieve common goals. Frey et al. (2006) and Greenbaum and Dedrick (n.d.) and Dedrick and Greenbaum (2011), proceed to measure at stages or degrees. The assumption is that collaboration is good and necessary for desired outcomes.
In special education and rehabilitation there are often new concepts and practices that are suggested without a clear operational definition or a sound, evidence-based foundation. For example, from the very first mention, natural supports were seen as the desired means for attaining independence and providing support in the community. In fact, there was even mention in the reauthorization of legislation without any definition of what those supports were. One director in rehabilitation stated, "they [natural supports] are the supports that we do not have to pay for." No one stipulated what the construct meant, or if there was some proposal with detail, there was no consensus (Trach, 2007). In some cases, the field designs a new service to replace one that does not seem to be effective. So, we create customized employment to replace supported employment when both are essentially similar. In fact, some would say that there is simply a name change, but no indication that outcomes improved. Another example, "seamless transition" suggest a more effective practice which in reality is what the intent has been from inception, since the contrary is not logical (Certo & Luecking, 2006; Certo, Luecking, Murphy, Brown, Courey, & Belanger, 2008; Rusch, 2007). Regardless, the goal is employment with some supports (Wehman, Inge, Revell, & Brooke, 2007).
Collaboration is another construct which suggests everyone knows what it is, but no one can actually describe. Also, that there is an inherent value of collaboration that no one would dare question. This understanding and assigned value are mentioned in nearly every document which discusses transition, but inevitably lacks real definition and consensus. Longoria (2005) reiterates and documents how little we know about collaboration or the seductiveness of the purpose to be more efficient in attaining positive outcomes. He goes on to document that we have no data and differing definitions of collaboration. He suggests that collaboration may not necessarily be good. Regardless, he insists that we construct a specific definition to collect data on collaboration for program evaluation. Having an operational definition with an instrument to measure activities would permit evaluation of various settings and uniqueness. The Trochium (1989) model for concept mapping could provide a structure to address unique aspects of the various stakeholder perspectives.
Formal and informal communication is critical for building relationships that promote effective interagency collaboration. Exchanges of information, resources, and knowledge cannot be limited to a few formal meetings. There is a need to create frequent opportunities to communicate during transition activities. As stronger relationships are built, deeper understandings, greater expectations, and more dynamic transition results are likely to occur (Johnson, Zorn, Tam, Lamontagne, & Johnson, 2003). Efforts must be made to educate all involved professionals about each other and the benefits of working together (Agran et al., 2002).
Developments in practice led to the creation of positions for personnel specializing in meeting transition needs, however they exist as an exception rather than the rule. Many of the top ten competencies for a specialist involved in transition planning process were important for interagency collaboration (deFur & Taymans, 1995). Such findings imply that the transition specialist's primary role is to coordinate people and services involved in the planning process in order to enhance interagency collaboration. They must have an in-depth understanding of the transition process and have positive working relationships with the team. Furthermore, the more individuals familiar with transition, the more likely solutions will be developed and the process maintained when team members change.
The commitment to interagency collaboration at all levels of the organization is essential. The commitment of direct service personnel such as rehabilitation professionals and special educators to interagency collaboration alone is insufficient. Commitment to interagency collaboration must be established by becoming an expected and valued practice. When interagency collaboration becomes an effective and expected practice, successful transition planning and outcomes become more likely (Johnson et al., 2003). Interagency collaboration between special educators and related service professionals must be supported by administrators in both settings. Administrators influence collaboration practices, and can take the lead in supporting efforts to work together to demonstrate the value of these practices by budgeting the appropriate funds needed to support students as they transition (Lehmann, Cobb, & Tochterman, 2001). However, it is not always an issue of the amount of funding, but rather, how the funding is being utilized. Gowdy, Carlson, and Rapp (2003) found that low performing agencies were receiving, on average, nearly one million dollars more in state funds than did high performing agencies. Leadership and appropriate funding support from administrators to build collaborative relationships between special educators and rehabilitation professionals appear to increase the likelihood of successful transition focused partnerships (Lehmann et al., 2001) and Gowdy, Carlson, and Rapp's (2003) data suggest, are actually more efficient. Effective partnering also takes commitment, interdependency, open communication, and education.
Youths' goals in transition plans have the greatest likelihood of being realized when rehabilitation professionals are involved to bridge the educational and rehabilitation systems (Will, 1984). Baer et al. (2011) found that student transitions goals were not well aligned with post school expectations. The study also reported only 18% of transition had any VR involvement, up from the 4% Trach and Shelden (2000) reported. Wagner, Newman, Cameto, Levine, and Marder, (2003) found that students wth intellectual and developmental disabilities overwhelm available resources and adult service providers capacity. Through collaboration with educators, rehabilitation professionals can be in a position of leadership to inform and support youth and their families of the potential community and adult opportunities available as well as assisting in system navigation. Establishing partnerships is necessary to have effective means of connecting transitioning youth with community and workplace opportunities (Wehman et al., 2007). Collaborative practices provide a means to establish these necessary partnerships and build interdependency, but require a shift in policy.
Coburn (2003) argues that a change in philosophy is required for people conducting policy reform. Coburn suggests shifting from the standard practice of simple quantitative measures of counting numbers of federal initiatives, state transition councils, local transition planning teams and transition programs to broader, more explicit efforts that focus on depth of change and underlying assumptions, sustainability over time, internal and external spread, and ownership by both direct service personnel and administrators. Coburn believes these changes are necessary to shift from the traditional approach to scaling up (i.e., counting the increase in numbers of programs) to a reconceptualized view of scale which better represents its complexity. Used in this way, the terms "scaling up" refer to the ability to think and act beyond the mandated practices which drive quantifying transition successes as increases in related initiatives and programs to that of evidence-based transition practices that are known to yield high quality results. Approaching scale in this manner allows a recasting of "policies related to young adults ... as opportunities for social investment, the benefits of which must be weighed not only against immediate, but also long-range, risks and costs" (Settersten, 2004, Strengthening families and fostering civic engagement section, p. 2 [paragraph] 5).
Changing standard practice to that of a scaling up approach creates a legacy of professional quality and rich thinking upon which rehabilitation activities can build. Data indicate that the dismal adult outcomes can be significantly improved through collaborative practices (Benz et al., 2000; Gowdy et al., 2003; Horn et al., 1998). However, we need to understand collaboration in a manner that we can replicate those results or craft them for a particular set of circumstances if positive results exist. Collaboration data collected will provide "evidence-based" practice rather than just "established practice." It is unlikely that collaboration or any set of activities will address all outcomes in all contexts. The inherent danger in proposing a set of activities to represent collaboration is that this would then define a process without exceptions. Rappaport (1981) identified a paradox in social services which presents a dialectical situation requiring divergent rather than convergent thinking. Therefore, if a standard measurement may be developed for the collaborative construct, the variations of collaboration may be compared to address questions regarding level of collaboration, various stakeholders, and critical components. There will most likely be many solutions to the same question that may even appear as not congruent. The task must focus on each individual student and their post school goals in order to know the process. Detailing the degree to which collaboration exists can then propose the direction of further development. The temporal aspects, local realities, and vitality of solutions are independent of the model of collaboration. The post school goals will dictate the model for each individual student.
In the current millennium, collaboration among the fields of rehabilitation, education and other related service fields will continue to generate new approaches for professionals and students, enhance the development of programming, provide better individual and family services, and advocate for improved services and health care legislation. Collaboration will forge new roads of access for the students and families served, as well as for the professionals involved in the process. The field of education and special education need to develop new innovative professional development programs that can facilitate better outcomes. The process must be continually reviewed as the context continues to change. Developing skills to adjust programming and advocacy is critical to avoid institutionalizing a process (Rappaport, 1981). This proposed research invests in the most valuable resource: people.
The data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study (NLTS2) suggest that rehabilitation professionals are waiting for an invitation to participate in transition planning from special educators who often do not invite them (Cameto & Levine, 2005). Typically, rehabilitation professionals do not get involved with formal transition planning without referrals and an invitation to participate from special educators (Oertle & Trach, 2007). Often these connections are not made, as little as 4-18% of the time (Baer, et al, 2011; Trach & Shelden, 2000). As a result, many special educators are attempting to meet transition needs and solve related issues independent of assistance from rehabilitation professionals. Even when the rehabilitation counselors are included on the transition planning team, they reported having a lack of information prior to the meeting, the expectations of their role were unknown to them, and they had limited opportunity for input. Yet special educators have not demonstrated the capacity to meet transition needs and at school separation relinquish responsibility and accountability. This is of particular concern; rehabilitation professionals' capabilities appear to be overlooked, and special educators' capabilities are stretched beyond their training.
In spite of the evidence supporting the benefits of related service professionals' (e.g., those who specialize in community employment, community living, and post-secondary education) participation in the transition planning process, this relationship continues to be under-utilized or non-existent until too late in the process. Rehabilitation professionals lack influence when they are included (Agran et al., 2002; Carlson et al., 2002). Key team members are missing when certain professionals are absent from the transition process. There is added value to the transition planning process when rehabilitation professionals contribute their skills, resources, information, community networks, and funding (Oertle & Trach, 2007; Plotner & Trach 2010). The relationships among transitioning students, their families, and rehabilitation professionals should be facilitated prior to school completion. Transition planning offers a natural setting for building these relationships. Therefore, it is logical that all related service professionals be present at transition planning meetings (Agran et al., 2002) to facilitate relationship building between special educators and other related service professionals. Beyond just collaborating effectively is the mutual understanding of various transition-related competencies of these various professionals. Consequently, the absence of involvement in transition planning from the various service professionals becomes a barrier to utilizing such services, creating delays in receiving assistance for accessing employment, and participating in the community (Morningstar et al., 1999). It seems that special education and community rehabilitation, parallel systems, often operate independently rather than interdependently. As a result, youth and their families are less informed regarding the services and opportunities available to them. Consequently, we have The Arc (2011) reporting that only 15% of families surveyed reported employment for people with intellectual disabilities. Delineated collaboration activities will ensure that relevant stakeholders are prepared, present, and participating to best serve these students with disabilities.
Youth leaving high school need assistance with career assessment, career guidance, and with accessing viable employment, education, and residential living (Lehmann et al., 2001). Various transition related professionals can provide this assistance, by linking individuals to valuable community and workplace resources (Wehman & Targett, 2002). Respectful partnerships must be consistently developed among individuals, their families, special educators, and rehabilitation professionals to work toward the acquisition of full community participation. Partnerships promoting interagency collaboration that include rehabilitation professionals are a powerful means for supporting people with disabilities as valued community members with lifelong goals (Szymanski, 1994). Understandably, transition leads youth to adult situations in which transition professionals' community skills and knowledge can assist in developing career paths and more. Research literature has consistently suggested that better collaboration leads to better outcomes, but there continues to be no vehicle to bring all of the transition stakeholders together, collect same information based on best practices, and facilitate ongoing communication.
Syntheses of typical and needed transition practices are summarized in Table 1. Benefits of interagency collaborations are demonstrated through program outcomes. Transition planning alone has lead to dismal adult outcomes for transitioning students with disabilities. Development of professionals who have the knowledge, skills, and ability to link the typical systems (i.e., school, rehabilitation, community, and business/employment) during transition is necessary.
In order to promote and enhance collaboration, research needs to develop a theoretical, data-driven collaboration measurement scale that measures the degree of collaboration among transition service providers (school personnel, vocational rehabilitation counselors, community rehabilitation providers, and center for independent living personnel). The proposed measure, The Degree of Collaboration for Transition (DCT) could: (a) identify the systemic and individual collaborative activities which translate into transition services across various stakeholders to develop a summative and formative instrument, to determine the extent of collaboration; (b) collect data to determine the range, level, and types of collaboration activities; and (c) evaluate the level and types of collaboration activities in relationship to Indicator 13 and 14 data to determine the association to outcomes of youth transitioning into the community. The following reiterates the rationale and presents an outline for the study of collaboration.
Developing a capacity to describe and measure the degree of collaboration provides access to the study of how different settings attain transition goals, which in turn provides programmatic information for other settings. The products of this study will be a reliable and valid field-tested DCT measurement tool, proposed collaboration strategies that are likely to directly affect the delivery of transition services and student outcomes, and well defined transition-related collaboration constructs (latent variables) and indicators (manifest variables) based on evidence-based theory and promising practices for the development and testing of transition collaboration.
The Degree of Collaboration for Transition (DCT) would identify the systemic and individual transition collaborative activities necessary to provide a summative and formative instrument to determine the extent of collaboration among school-based and rehabilitation agency transition professionals. The items for the DCT could be crafted by utilizing the findings from the Oertle (2009) and Plotner (2009) studies, adapting the Levels of Collaboration Survey (LCS) items developed by Frey, Lohmeier, Lee, and Tollefson (2006) and Interagency Collaboration Activities Scale (IACAS) items developed by Greenbaum and Dedrick, (n.d.), and Dedrick and Greenbaum (2011), and information found through an extensive review of the literature. A review of the instruments suggests a commonality in activities that could define the construct of collaboration. A draft of a version of the DCT derived from the two instruments and review of two studies provide for potential foundation for instrument development and interviews. The first study determined which transition expectations and participation among professionals were found to have a significant relationship to the level of their transition collaboration (Oertle, 2009; Oertle & Trach, 2009). The second study defined transition competencies, including activities important to collaboration, from a rehabilitation perspective (Plotner, 2009; Plotner, Trach, & Strausser, in press; Plotner, Trach, & Shogren, in press).
Ultimately, identified collaboration activities should be crafted into content valid items for the DCT, likely strategies that promote successful collaboration and transition outcomes, and well defined transition-related collaboration constructs (latent variables) and indicators (manifest variables) for the development and testing of transition collaboration Structural Equation Models (SEM).
For transition to truly go beyond public school, collaboration must be established. There are various forms of successful collaborative efforts. With reports of success, discovering patterns in the data (McMillion & Schaumacker, 1998) provides a way to craft meaning. Therefore, qualitative data could be organized into sets of information to reveal common patterns, recurring themes, and inconsistencies among professionals within a position (i.e., school-based transition specialists, rehabilitation counselors, CRPs, and CIL professionals) and across the entire group of transition professionals in comparison with data collected.
The IDEA indicators 13 and 14 data could be used to examine the association with the DCT scores to further define the construct of collaboration and the manifest indicators as well as connect collaboration activities to outcome data. Further, Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) to establish content validity of the developed indicators (manifest variables) and inform construct validity of the latent constructs (collaboration and transition) builds models through a precise approach that permits for quantitative measurement and analysis of latent constructs (here as collaboration and transition) and their probable relationships without measurement error (Bollen, 1989; Browne & Cudeck, 1993). SEM is rigorous and allows for correction of measurement error so findings will be generalizable estimates of the true (unbiased) population parameters. The next step in fostering collaboration is to be able to specify definitions and measure it, and the DCT may become an important part of this process.
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John S. Trach
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
John S. Trach, Ph.D., CRC, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Department of Special Education, 288 Education Building, MC 708, 1310 South Sixth Street, Champaign, IL 61820
Table 1 Degree of Collaboration Model Activities Transition Components--Operational Definition and Activity List Planning--evaluating programming to date and planning post school outcomes 1. determining strengths, preferences, interests, and support needs 2. developing a system of support to access post school goals 3. IEP/IPE development Assessment--determining what needs to be assessed and how to assess 1. determining what type of assessment 2. collecting data 3. analysis of data Implementation--conducting the activities identified through planning and assessment 1. determine support needs in post school environments 2. accessing the necessary training 3. negotiating the necessary support Evaluation--assessing the programmatic efforts and student satisfaction 1. determining the feasibility of post school goals based on training, support, and progress 2. adjusting or revising plan accordingly 3. scheduling next evaluation Placement--choosing post school environments matching goals 1. negotiating the most appropriate settings 2. determining expectations and identification of support 3. determining retraining necessary for participating Follow up--providing long term support 1. establishing system of follow-up 2. establishing schedule of follow-up 3. establishing reporting mechanism procedure The items would be reviewed to determine the Degree of Collaboration on the six point scale of: 1--Coexistence 2--Networking 3--Cooperation 4--Coordination 5--Coalition 6--Collaboration Table 2 Degrees of Collaboration--Operational Definition for scoring on scale of 1-6 Coexistence-- Little or no contact, basically representatives do what they do without thought or consideration for anything beyond a particular activity. Networking-- Representatives are aware of other organizations, and assume or assigned loosely defined roles, with typically little communication, and all decisions are made independently. Cooperation-- Representatives provide information to each other, assume or assigned somewhat defined roles, with formal communication, and all decisions are made independently. Coordination-- Representatives share information and resources, assume or assigned defined roles, with frequent communication, and some shared decision making. Coalition-- Representatives share ideas, share resources, have frequent and prioritized communication, with all members having a vote in decision making. Collaboration-- Representatives belong to one system, with frequent communication characterized by mutual trust, and consensus is reached on all decisions. Note. Contact categories based on those in Frey, B. B., Lohmeier, J. H., Lee, L. W., & Tollefson, N. (2006). Measuring collaboration among grant partners. American Journal of Evaluation, 27, 383-392. "Representatives" refer to designated agency member identified for on services. In determining collaboration: review of every case, or selected random sample, or particular group (e.g., disability level of significance) to determine the outcomes for school program or part of a program (e.g., community-based work experience). DCT (Degree of Collaboration)--reviews the extent that activities associated with transition from school to post school are conducted with a degree of collaboration with other service providers from post school services Instrument Foundation based on: IACAS (Inter Agency Collaboration Activities Scale)--this instrument reviews general activities including Financial and Physical, Program development and evaluation, Client services, and Collaborative policy activities as they relate to structures of service which could be a little or a lot, but the scale does not provide means to do that. LCS (Levels of Collaboration Scale)--provides list of potential agencies with a description of the intensity level of activity from awareness of existence to consensus of action. Table 3 Transition Practices of Educators and Rehabilitation Professionals (Talking Points) Typical current Essential Questions practices What is needed Purpose--What drives Legislative Meet individual transition compliance (e.g., transition needs practices? IDEA, 2004); Event (e.g., person- driven (e.g., centered support turning 16 years services); old); Mandated Continuous linkages education (e.g., (e.g., network entitlement); utilization and Eligibility-based collaboration) adult services (e.g., set criteria) Outcomes--What Limited (e.g., Community presence results from provider-driven (e.g., consumer transition services, persistent driven services, practices? unemployment, community unequal acquisition employment, post- of post-secondary secondary education, education, housing choices, and congregate housing, social inclusion) and social isolation) Relationship--How Independent (e.g., Interdependent might transition parallel operation (e.g., seamless practices be of education and support services, conducted? rehabilitation recognition of systems) support needs, and service determination based on needs) Responsibility--How School (e.g., often Shared (e.g., do transition services are coordinated process, practices proceed? unilateral and outcome focused, and practices are evidence-based mandate-based) practices) Role--Who might conduct transition Teacher driven Partners (e.g., practices? (e.g., school cooperative personnel initiate, transition administrate, and activities and fund transition blended funding from special education and rehabilitation) Focus--What do Curriculum (e.g., Employment, post- transition practices meeting federal and secondary education, target? state academic and community standards) integration (e.g., skills and knowledge for career and adult living) Policy--What results Limited scale (e.g., System and from policy? time-limited results organizational because school change (e.g., responsibility ends interagency at school collaboration as completion) standard practice leading to substantial, lifelong results, and social investment in youth) Communication--How Problem-based (e.g., Open (e.g., formal does it occur? school services are and informal); ending); One- Interactive and dimensional (e.g., multidimensional referral to (e.g., information community support and resources are services with a valued by each community resource other) booklet) Education--What Few joint trainings Collaborative professional (e.g., continuing opportunities for development is education as a means learning with offered? of credential required maintenance; one- participation (e.g., sided perspective of course work, service provisions) workshops, teleconferences, and conferences focused on transition practices and interagency collaboration) Source: Oertle, K. M. & Trach, J. S. (2007). Interagency collaboration: The importance of rehabilitation professionals' involvement in transition. Journal of Rehabilitation, 73, 36-44.