Thursday, August 16, 2018

As we prepare for back to school, I would like to draw your attention to the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition website once again.  Today, I would like you to pay close attention to the toolkits on the home page.

One in particular caught my eye and I would like you to think about the importance of Transition Fairs for your students as you enter the new year.  Please download and print off this amazing tool to assist in providing the necessary transition services for your young adults.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Middle School Transition Planning Practices Prepared 
by Wen-hsuan Chang and Dana Rusher May, 2018 
Why are Transition Practices Important for Middle School Students with Disabilities?

Middle School Transition Planning Practices Prepared by Wen-hsuan Chang and Dana Rusher May, 2018 Why are Transition Practices Important for Middle School Students with Disabilities? Students with disabilities experience higher unemployment, attend postsecondary environments less often, and engage less in their communities after graduating from high school compared to their peers without disabilities (Newman, Wagner, Knokey, Marder, Nagle, Shaver, & Schwarting, 2011). In middle school, young adolescents with disabilities are 50% more likely than their counterparts without disabilities to drop out of school (President’s Commission on Excellence in Special Education, 2002). Researchers and policymakers at the federal level have been trying to address these disparities.

 Researchers have identified predictors of post-school success for students with disabilities. These twentieth evidence-based, in-school predictors include career awareness, community experiences, exit exam requirements/high school diploma status, inclusion in general education, interagency collaboration, occupational courses, paid employment/work experience, parental involvement, program of study, self-advocacy/self-determination, selfindependent living skills, social skills, student support, transition program, vocational education, work, parent expectations, youth autonomy/decision making, goal setting, and travel skills (Mazzotti et al., 2015). Knowledge of these predictors by staff in middle schools may help empirically improve students’ post-school success. 

At the federal level, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments (IDEA) of 2004 mandated a transition component be included in the Individual Education Program (IEP) for students with disabilities at no later than age 16. Each transition component must be based on students’ transition strengths, needs, interests, and preferences. This legislation also requires students with disabilities to participate, at an appropriate individual level, in the IEP planning process. This requirement encourages educators to beginning preparing students with disabilities at an early age. 

Successful transition is more complicated than just having a transition component in an IEP at the age of 16. It also includes continuity of special education services, coordination of interagency collaboration, and capacity of educators to teach students with disabilities using evidence-based transition practices. Early and ongoing transition planning for students with disabilities reduces alienation, improves attendance, and decreases student dropout (Weidenthal & Kochhar-Bryant, 2007). This indicates the importance of promoting instruction in critical transition skills such as career awareness and exploration at an early age, giving students time to formulate realistic goals (Storms, O’Leary, & Williams, 2000). Yet, current transition practices often focus on students who are in high school (Cook, Wilczenski, & Vanderbrg, 2017; Griffin, Taylor, Urbano, & Hodapp, 2014; Hirano, & Rowe, 2015; Kelley, Bartholomew, & Test, 2011; Prater, Redman, Anderson, & Gibb, 2014; Zeedyk, Tipton, & Blacher, 2016). Beginning transition planning in middle school may complement efforts at the secondary level, potentially alleviating discontinuity of instruction in transition skills and services. 

For the rest of the resource go to

Friday, May 4, 2018


The Division of Special Education has scheduled an Experienced Teacher Forum on the dates and in the cities listed below. The forum will be held in three locations across the state. The forum will consist of various Special Education topics. The topics, training sites, and registration information will be announced this fall. Participants will rotate through seven various topics and participate in an open discussion led by a Special Education staff member. The forum will begin at 8:30 a.m. and conclude around 4:00 p.m. at each of the three locations. The number of participants will be limited to sixty (60) at each of the locations.

September 11, 2018    -           Glasgow

September 17, 2018    -           Kalispell

September 19, 2018    -           Bozeman

All materials will be distributed on site. If you have questions, please contact Danni McCarthy at 444-0452 or

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

May 1st Webinar: Alternatives to Guardianship

So many choices!  Do you know there are options to support young adults as they become decision makers?  During this webinar, the presenters will discuss various ways to support individuals with significant disabilities after age 18, and will introduce the Alternatives to Guardianship Toolkit.  Specifically, the presenters will talk about:
  • Supported Decision-Making
  • Educational tools
  • Financial tools
  • Medical tools
  • Powers of Attorney

Please note: some of the resources shared may be Montana-specific.

Intended audience:  Families of youth/young adults with disabilities, educators, counselors, service providers, and others who support young people in their transition to adult life.

Theresa Baldry is a proud mother of six children, including a son with a disability. Her belief that "knowledge is power" has directed her areas of employment in the disability field. From 2001-2016, she worked for PLUK, Parents Let's Unite for Kids supporting families and served as a member of the Leadership Team. Technology has played a key role in her son's life and as his primary support for the last 20 years, she has needed to stay in front of what he has wanted that technology to do. She began working for MonTECH in October 2012, to share the wealth of knowledge they have learned over the years. In 2016 she began working for the Pre-Employment Transition Services Technical Assistance Center, with the Rural Institute, as a project coordinator in Eastern Montana. Today she is the Project Coordinator for Montana Transition Resources, a project funded by Children's Special Health Services. She serves on the Disability Rights of Montana Board of Directors, currently as the president. Theresa has been a member of the Rural Institute Consumer Advisory Council since 2010 and has presented at numerous conferences and webinars as a Council member.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018
1:00 PM - 2:30 PM MDT

Register Today!
Reserve your webinar seat now at:

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


The application period for the 2018 Community Investment Fund is now open!

Are you in Montana? Do you have an interesting idea or project to promote inclusion for Montanans with disabilities? Would a small amount of start-up funds help you get your project off the ground? Applications for the Community Investment Fund are now being accepted...complete and return your application before the May 1, 2018 deadline

What is the Community Investment Fund?

The Community Investment Fund is a small pot of money ($1500 in 2018, which may be divided between several recipients) that the Rural Institute has made available for inclusive, innovative projects or programs that will help Montanans with disabilities live, learn, work and play in their communities alongside people without disabilities.

Who is eligible to apply for funding?

Any Montana organization, agency, non-profit group, or individual with a creative idea to promote community inclusion (people with disabilities participating together alongside people without disabilities) is eligible to apply. Please note: due to University contracting requirements, successful applicants will be required to have liability insurance and either Workers' Compensation coverage or a Workers' Compensation exemption certificate.

Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged to view the March 1, 2016 "What's the Buzz about Inclusion?" and/or the January 24, 2017 "Inclusion: We All Benefit" archived webinars prior to applying. The webinars are available on the Transition and Employment Projects Training page:
How does someone apply for funding?
To apply, fill out the Community Investment Fund application and submit it by the deadline. Applications are available in hard copy and online formats, and may be mailed, emailed or faxed to the Rural Institute.

When is the application deadline?
For the 2018 funding cycle, the application deadline is May 1, 2018. Successful applicants will receive half of their award amount up front and the other half once their project is completed and their final report submitted and approved.  

When does the funding need to be spent?
Community Investment Funds must be spent by December 15, 2018.

What are the follow-up requirements after someone has received funding?
Successful applicants will be required to submit a follow-up report describing how the money was spent, how many people with and without disabilities participated/were served, and how the project impacted the lives of people with and without disabilities.

Who can be contacted for more information?

Kim Brown, University of Montana Rural Institute

52 Corbin Hall, Missoula, Montana 59812

Email:; Phone: 406-243-4852

Friday, April 6, 2018

Today I am posting two articles that are just interesting articles.  Both are out of the normal area of Secondary  Transition, yet still relate.  One is on Autism and the other is on a group of high school students here in Montana.  I hope you enjoy them both.

The secret to… raising a happy autistic child

What the
Arlee Warriors
Were Playing For

           On Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation, basketball is about much more than winning.