Academic Exchange Quarterly     Fall 2016     ISSN 1096-1453     Volume 20, Issue 3

Guest Editorial

Self-determination and transition plans for students with disabilities ….. The ability for
students with disabilities to transition to higher education and jobs in the community after
high school is essential for them to be contributing members of society. For this to happen,
students and families must be active members in the transitional planning for students with
disabilities. For the transition planning process to be as effective as possible students with
disabilities need to become more active participants to have an impact on the transition
planning process. Teachers can help the transition process by teaching self-determination
skills to students with disabilities so that they can become active participants in their own
transition planning process. Parents and caretakers of these students need to be included
as well. These individuals are essential contributors in the planning process because they
help provide support for students to obtain and maintain work after high school. Without teacher
and adult support these students will probably not be successful.

Self-determination skills and student-led transitional planning are especially valuable for students
with emotional and behavior disorders who are entering the workforce after high school. These
students have difficulty obtaining and maintaining jobs after high school which means that these
students are missing an important element in adulthood that affects their livelihoods. All students
need to possess self-determination skills, but for students who have emotional and behavior
disorders, acquiring these skills is crucial to success during and after high school. Acquiring such
skills will help the students become active members of their transition planning teams and help in
the career choice process. Although self-determination allows students with emotional and behavior
disorders to become active members in their own transitional planning, it is not automatically
ingrained and must be fostered throughout the school years but most especially in the middle
and high school years. By promoting self-advocacy, schools can offer students ways to positively
express themselves so that planning becomes a guided process that leads to choices that students
can feel confident about. By providing opportunities to research possible careers and providing an
environment for which to apply new skills, schools can prepare students for post-secondary life. In
order to avoid superficial transitional planning, a collaborative relationship must exist between the
student, parents, teachers, and administrators to achieve genuine transitional planning that focuses
on student interest, needs, and strengths.

This AEQ Fall issue is a compilation of 20 articles for educators to gain knowledge to address real
and relevant educational topics that can aid in making a difference in our ever-changing schools.
Published articles provide educators with an abundance of information to move our classrooms
forward. Scholars from a variety of educational disciplines have written informative articles to
address key educational issues in our classrooms. Our students are ever-changing and thus our
classrooms need to be changing as well. Continuous learning is the sign of an excellent educator
and these articles seek to help educators improve their knowledge and potentially increase their
educational skill sets.

For a discussion of self-determination and transition plans for students with disabilities read my article
“Transition Plans and Students with Disabilities” in Fall 2016 issue.

Jeffrey P. Bakken, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Research and Dean of the Graduate School
Bradley University, Peoria, IL
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