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Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) Spotlights

In October 2010, the Office of Postsecondary Education, U.S. Department of Education awarded $10.564 million to 27 two- and four-year institutions of higher education or consortia of institutions under the model comprehensive Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) competition.

These grants will create opportunities for students with ID to attend and be successful in higher education. This month, we begin spotlighting the TPSID projects in this newsletter, beginning with the MN and NY TPSIDs.

Minnesota TPSID
Check & Connect: A Model for Engaging and Retaining Students with Intellectual Disabilities in Higher Education

Central Lakes College and Ridgewater College, in partnership with the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota, are establishing an inclusive and comprehensive model for engaging and retaining students with intellectual disabilities (ID) in higher education programs. As part of this project, students with ID will participate with students without disabilities in regular classes and be enrolled in credit-bearing courses and certificate and/or degree programs.

This demonstration project will utilize Check & Connect (C&C; http://www.checkandconnect.org/), an evidence-based student engagement model that has been used at the K-12 and postsecondary levels for over 20 years. C&C has four components: 1) a mentor/coach who works with students for a minimum of two years; 2) regularly checking on students' school adjustment, behavior, and educational progress; 3) intervening in a timely manner to re-establish and maintain students' connection to school and learning and to enhance students' social and academic competencies; and 4) partnering with families, as appropriate. In the TPSID, all participating students will receive basic C&C interventions and additional supports as needed.

To date, the MN TPSID has established its state advisory committee, local stakeholder workgroups, and project design team. TPSID staff are also in the process of hiring a C&C coach at each college. This person will carry out person-centered planning with students, encourage students to get involved with extracurricular activities, provide support to problem-solve daily living situations, promote self-advocacy, monitor student engagement in courses and internships, engage students in job placement, ensure that students are making use of academic support and peer tutoring, and support students' transition to independent living after completion of school.

For more information about the Minnesota TPSID, contact Jean Ness at nessx008@umn.edu or 612-625-5322.

New York TPSID
Western New York College Consortium

The Institute for Innovative Transition at the University of Rochester established a consortium of four institutions of higher education-University of Rochester, Keuka College, Monroe Community College, and Roberts Wesleyan College-to establish four postsecondary education opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities. All four projects include course access to non-credit and credit-bearing courses and opportunities for participation in campus activities.

Emphasis for project year one is improving interagency/institutional collaborations among institutions of higher education, local educational agencies, vocational rehabilitation, and state-funded disability agencies. Highlights of project year one for the four TPSID projects include: 1) staff training in person-centered planning, 2) expansion of employment internships to include 78% of student participants in the TPSIDs, 3) increased course access for students with intellectual disabilities, 4) two projects offer a credential acknowledged by the institution of higher education, and 5) peer mentors/ educational coaches are available to students.

Each institution of higher education is working quite differently to address specific components of their projects. Keuka College established a residential committee in the hopes of providing a campus-living option in the near future. Robert Wesleyan College is collaborating with a state-funded disability agency with the aim of providing additional campus supports to students on weeknights and weekends. With this partnership, Roberts Wesleyan College will also be able to offer opportunities for students over the age of 21. The University of Rochester made available after-hours peer mentors for students interested in weeknight and weekend campus activities and will focus efforts in the fall on increasing course access. Monroe Community College is hiring a workforce development coordinator who will work closely with the partnering local educational agency to facilitate course access on campus. Although the TPSID projects are in the first year, strengthened partnerships have already resulted in increased course and campus access to students with intellectual disabilities.

For more information about the New York State TPSID projects, please contact Kristen Love at Kristen_love@urmc.rochester.edu or 585-276-3657 or visit http://www.nytransition.org/Think-College-NY