Concept Paper: The Future for Students with Disabilities ages 2 to 26

by the Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education (MAASE)

Purpose and Background:

This concept paper proposes ideas to improve transition to adult life at an earlier age for students with disabilities (SWD)

ages 22-26 through increased relationships with community support agencies.

The intent of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is to provide special education

programs/services that create a successful transition for young adults from the classroom to community and

employment supports through the age of 21. Michigan law provides special education programming for students with

disabilities to age 26. Because classrooms do not resemble community and/or employment environments, Michigan law

has had the unintended consequence of impeding successful transition to community and rehabilitation services.

Students with disabilities who are currently served beyond age 21 usually fall into one of these three groups:

• Students with severe impairments (such as students with severe cognitive impairment or severe multiple

impairments);

• Students functioning in the low mild to moderate range of impairment (with various disabilities) who need

postsecondary programming aimed at future employment and daily living skills; or

• Students with milder impairments who have either dropped out and are returning to school, or who would like

to earn a high school diploma and are considerably older than high school age.

Michigan’s mandatory special education law (1971) predated federal special education law. The original intent for the

extended age range was to meet the needs of students with the most severe disabilities. However, the number of

students who receive services post high-school has expanded greatly since 1971. Between 2001 and 2009, the number

of Michigan students with disabilities in this age group increased by 33 percent. The Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC)

will likely create an increased number of SWDwho will not obtain diplomas. These individuals will continue to be eligible

for special education services to age 26, resulting in additional cost to the educational system

The IDEA provides entitlement to educational programs and services through the age of 21. Michigan is the only state

that provides special education for studentsto age 26. Providing such extended years in special education has

contributed to a lack of urgency for schools and agencies to work closely together while students transition from

classroom programs to adult service and employment agencies.

Michigan’s current economic climate has resulted in multiple proposals to save tax dollars. One suggestion gaining

momentum is to change Michigan’s requirement to serve students with disabilities beyond age 21.

For these reasons, 2011 is the opportune time to create better social policy for our young adults with disabilities.

Concepts for Consideration:

We can achieve better social policy by changing our law to create a more effective bridge between the educational

system and the public health and rehabilitation systems. Here are some ways we could do this:

1. Adopt the IDEA language of providing entitlement to special education programs and services through age 21.

Recognize a new eligibility category called individuals with a disability. This requires changes to wording in

Michigan’s Revised School Code (Act 451 of 1976), Michigan’s State SchoolAid Act of 1979 (Act 94 of 1979), the

Michigan Administrative Rulesfor Special Education (MARSE)[Rules 340.1702, 340.1733{e), and Michigan's Pupil

Accounting Manual.

Adopted by MAASE Executive Board on 2/7/2011

Construct one or more new special education rules to create an eligibility category for individuals with a

disability between the ages of 22 and 26, which provides continued transition services delivered through a

transition service plan. An individual with a disability would qualify for continued transition services only if he or

she meets both of these criteria: .

• Is a Michigan student with a disability with a current IEPthrough the age of 21; and

• Has not received any board-approved core academic credits toward a high school diploma.

3. Construct new special education rule(s) to define the scope of transition services for this newly identified

population that align with the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education, Rule 340.1733(h), which

allows schools to contract for the provision of transition services for students with disabilities.

Actions Needed to Realize Concepts:

1. Enact legislation to change these sections in the Revised School Code:

• 380.1711(1)(f) “Maintain a record of each student with a disability under 22 years of age and each individual

with a disability over 22 years of age but under 26 years of age, who is a resident of 1 of its constituent

districts and who has not graduated from high school, and the special education programs or services in

which the student with a disabmty is participating or the transition services in which the individual with a

disability is participating on the fourth Wednesday after Labor Day and Friday before Memorial Day.” and

• 380.1711(1) (j) – Change “26″ to “22.” (This section of the School Code establishes obligations to evaluate

students suspected of having a disability.)

• 380.1751-Add a new subsection (3) to read as follows and renumber subsections (3), (4) and (5) as

subsections (4), (5) and (6):

(3) “The board of a local school district shall provide transition services for each individual with a disability in

its district on record under section 1711 by either providing the services or contracting with an intermediate

school district, another local school district, or a combination of such agencies, in cooperation with public or

private entities, for the provision of transition services.”

2. Amend MARSErules 340.1702 (SeeAppendix A) and 1733 to change “26″ to “22.”

3. Promulgate new MARSErules to define individual with disability (fWD) eligible for continued transition services

and the scope and nature of transition services under this entitlement. (SeeAppendix A.)

4. Promulgate new MARSErule(s) to allow partial pupil membership when IWD transition services are supervised

by a special education teacher. One idea:

“When supervision is provided by approved special education teachers to IWOs to age 26, this service

shall be provided for a minimum of 1 hour per week, and not less than 36 clock hours per calendar year.

Services may be provided in a school or community setting.”

S. Enact legislation to change these sections in the State School Aid Act.

• 388.1606(4)(1) – Add this language “(i) A special education pupil who is enrolled and receiving instruction in a

special education program or service approved by the department or is participating in transition services

under an individual with a disability transition services plan, who does not have a high school diploma, and

who is less than 26 years of age as of the first day of the current school year shall be counted in

membership. “

• 388.1606(4) – Add language to allow for partial membership for IWDs if services are supervised by an

approved special education teacher.

6. Create new pupil accounting rules to allow for pupil membership prorated to the amount of instructional

transition services provided through the educational entity.

Future of SWD 22 to 26 – Page 2 Adopted by MAASEExecutive Board on 2/7/2011

Concept Paper: The Future for Students with Disabilities ages 2 to 26

by the Michigan Association of Administrators of Special Education (MAASE)

Purpose and Background:

This concept paper proposes ideas to improve transition to adult life at an earlier age for students with disabilities (SWD)

ages 22-26 through increased relationships with community support agencies.

The intent of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is to provide special education

programs/services that create a successful transition for young adults from the classroom to community and

employment supports through the age of 21. Michigan law provides special education programming for students with

disabilities to age 26. Because classrooms do not resemble community and/or employment environments, Michigan law

has had the unintended consequence of impeding successful transition to community and rehabilitation services.

Students with disabilities who are currently served beyond age 21 usually fall into one of these three groups:

• Students with severe impairments (such as students with severe cognitive impairment or severe multiple

impairments);

• Students functioning in the low mild to moderate range of impairment (with various disabilities) who need

postsecondary programming aimed at future employment and daily living skills; or

• Students with milder impairments who have either dropped out and are returning to school, or who would like

to earn a high school diploma and are considerably older than high school age.

Michigan’s mandatory special education law (1971) predated federal special education law. The original intent for the

extended age range was to meet the needs of students with the most severe disabilities. However, the number of

students who receive services post high-school has expanded greatly since 1971. Between 2001 and 2009, the number

of Michigan students with disabilities in this age group increased by 33 percent. The Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC)

will likely create an increased number of SWDwho will not obtain diplomas. These individuals will continue to be eligible

for special education services to age 26, resulting in additional cost to the educational system

The IDEA provides entitlement to educational programs and services through the age of 21. Michigan is the only state

that provides special education for studentsto age 26. Providing such extended years in special education has

contributed to a lack of urgency for schools and agencies to work closely together while students transition from

classroom programs to adult service and employment agencies.

Michigan’s current economic climate has resulted in multiple proposals to save tax dollars. One suggestion gaining

momentum is to change Michigan’s requirement to serve students with disabilities beyond age 21.

For these reasons, 2011 is the opportune time to create better social policy for our young adults with disabilities.

Concepts for Consideration:

We can achieve better social policy by changing our law to create a more effective bridge between the educational

system and the public health and rehabilitation systems. Here are some ways we could do this:

1. Adopt the IDEA language of providing entitlement to special education programs and services through age 21.

Recognize a new eligibility category called individuals with a disability. This requires changes to wording in

Michigan’s Revised School Code (Act 451 of 1976), Michigan’s State SchoolAid Act of 1979 (Act 94 of 1979), the

Michigan Administrative Rulesfor Special Education (MARSE)[Rules 340.1702, 340.1733{e), and Michigan's Pupil

Accounting Manual.

Adopted by MAASE Executive Board on 2/7/2011

Construct one or more new special education rules to create an eligibility category for individuals with a

disability between the ages of 22 and 26, which provides continued transition services delivered through a

transition service plan. An individual with a disability would qualify for continued transition services only if he or

she meets both of these criteria: .

• Is a Michigan student with a disability with a current IEPthrough the age of 21; and

• Has not received any board-approved core academic credits toward a high school diploma.

3. Construct new special education rule(s) to define the scope of transition services for this newly identified

population that align with the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education, Rule 340.1733(h), which

allows schools to contract for the provision of transition services for students with disabilities.

Actions Needed to Realize Concepts:

1. Enact legislation to change these sections in the Revised School Code:

• 380.1711(1)(f) “Maintain a record of each student with a disability under 22 years of age and each individual

with a disability over 22 years of age but under 26 years of age, who is a resident of 1 of its constituent

districts and who has not graduated from high school, and the special education programs or services in

which the student with a disabmty is participating or the transition services in which the individual with a

disability is participating on the fourth Wednesday after Labor Day and Friday before Memorial Day.” and

• 380.1711(1) (j) – Change “26″ to “22.” (This section of the School Code establishes obligations to evaluate

students suspected of having a disability.)

• 380.1751-Add a new subsection (3) to read as follows and renumber subsections (3), (4) and (5) as

subsections (4), (5) and (6):

(3) “The board of a local school district shall provide transition services for each individual with a disability in

its district on record under section 1711 by either providing the services or contracting with an intermediate

school district, another local school district, or a combination of such agencies, in cooperation with public or

private entities, for the provision of transition services.”

2. Amend MARSErules 340.1702 (SeeAppendix A) and 1733 to change “26″ to “22.”

3. Promulgate new MARSErules to define individual with disability (fWD) eligible for continued transition services

and the scope and nature of transition services under this entitlement. (SeeAppendix A.)

4. Promulgate new MARSErule(s) to allow partial pupil membership when IWD transition services are supervised

by a special education teacher. One idea:

“When supervision is provided by approved special education teachers to IWOs to age 26, this service

shall be provided for a minimum of 1 hour per week, and not less than 36 clock hours per calendar year.

Services may be provided in a school or community setting.”

S. Enact legislation to change these sections in the State School Aid Act.

• 388.1606(4)(1) – Add this language “(i) A special education pupil who is enrolled and receiving instruction in a

special education program or service approved by the department or is participating in transition services

under an individual with a disability transition services plan, who does not have a high school diploma, and

who is less than 26 years of age as of the first day of the current school year shall be counted in

membership. “

• 388.1606(4) – Add language to allow for partial membership for IWDs if services are supervised by an

approved special education teacher.

6. Create new pupil accounting rules to allow for pupil membership prorated to the amount of instructional

transition services provided through the educational entity.

Future of SWD 22 to 26 – Page 2 Adopted by MAASEExecutive Board on 2/7/2011

Benefits of Change:

  1. Creates more urgency to provide effective transition planning for all students with disabilities.
  2. Engages agency involvement with IWDs at a younger age.
  3. Supports self-determination of IWD’s by allowing choices of service agencies to provide transition services.
  4. Promotes better collaboration between schools and agencies.
  5. Reduces excessive paperwork and places more focus on direct services to IWD’s
  6. Provides cost savings to the taxpayers of the State of Michigan
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