Change is never easy. Whether a child is moving from preschool to elementary school or high school to a secondary school environment, this transition time can be challenging. Educational consultants often work with families on choosing appropriate schools, and offering guidance and assistance with the admissions process. For students with disabilities or suspected disabilities, there are additional issues to consider during transition.
Parents of preschoolers with disabilities need to consider if a new school environment can appropriately meet the student's needs as he/she enters kindergarten. Similarly, if parents are concerned about the academic progress of their child (who does not receive any support services), a comprehensive evaluation prior to a school change, may be appropriate to assist parents in better understanding the type of educational environment and available supports to investigate.
A graduating high school student may have attended the same school since kindergarten or even preschool. Transition, with respect to needed services and accommodations, was likely facilitated by parents and school-based teams. When a student is thinking about the transition to college, it is up to that individual student to be their own transition advocate. Importantly, a student who has received special education or testing modifications throughout their schooling can arrive at a college campus where no one knows the student's educational history. For students with disabilities, there are many questions to consider and ask when choosing a school. Students may wonder, how do I get extended time? where do I finish my tests? how can I get a tutor? These questions are a sampling of the topics that need to be considered for a student entering a new environment.
- -Families often question releasing a student's disability and significant educational history to new institutions. This is a serious question and one that should be given careful and considerate thought.
- -If a student needed and used an accommodation, they would likely continue to need that support in another school environment. For example, a student with dyslexia who routinely needed and used extended time on tests requiring reading would continue to need that testing modification.
- -Schools differ in the range of support services available for students with and without disabilities. Students and parents need to carefully investigate schools to determine if individual needs can be met.
- -For students entering elementary, middle, or high school: Students with disabilities who request any type of accommodation are often required to submit a recent, psychoeducational evaluation that includes a diagnosed disability. In some specialized educational institutions, this report is considered as part of the application to determine if a given school is an appropriate match for a student.
- -For students entering college: Many colleges and universities across the nation require a recent, comprehensive psychoeducational evaluation including an adult scale of intelligence for students with learning disabilities and in many situations, AD/HD, if that student needs testing modifications or other types of support at school (Visit www.ahead.org and www.ets.org for additional documentation information).