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Special School District of St. Louis County
Transition Resources Help Students Explore Options for the Future

One of the most significant transitions in life is moving from high school into the adult world. 

For students with disabilities, the transition from school to adult life is addressed in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) beginning at age 16 and earlier if appropriate. Meeting the student’s post-secondary goals for employment, education, and independent living are at the forefront of the goals of the IEP team.

There are many opportunities considered at the student’s IEP and the team assesses the student’s work readiness.

“We start by looking at what we know about the student’s interests, academic and school performance, challenges and support needs and what they want to do,” says Marilyn Smith, SSD effective practice specialist. “We have a variety of transition assessments that help to narrow their interests.” 

Missouri Connections

One such assessment is Missouri Connections, a comprehensive, online, career development and planning program that is provided free of charge to all Missouri residents. Funded by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development, this program helps individuals learn about their talents, skills, and interests and makes the connection between planning for continued education and the work world.

With Missouri Connections, students can:

  • Better understand themselves, explore their interests and discover their talents.
  • Investigate education and career options so they can create a personal plan of study that is right for them.
  • Use the resources for college and training exploration, find options to finance their future education, understand employment skills, and learn about high-demand jobs that interest them.
  • Make the connection between school, learning and their future work world.
  • Develop a plan as they find answers to these important questions:
    • Who am I?
    • Where am I headed?
    • How do I get there?

For more information about Missouri Connections, visit

Work Readiness Inventory (WRI)

The Work Readiness Inventory (WRI) is another tool that helps to assess transition opportunities. Created by a team from Vocational Rehabilitation and St. Louis employment providers, the WRI gathers detailed information from teachers that should accelerate the process of developing an employment plan and job options.

WRI purposes:

  • To share accurate and current information relevant to job development.
  • To report the graduating student’s level of work readiness.
  • To assist in determining supported employment needs.
  • To reduce the student’s experience of repeated assessment activities.
  • To provide information to vocational rehabilitation and providers of adult services.
  • To solicit concrete and targeted student information needed by the adult provider.
  • To provide teachers with targeted language used in the adult vocational planning process.

“The WRI is a relatively new tool and the transition teams are encouraged to use it to assess work readiness,” says Smith. “We determine programming based on the student’s desired post-secondary goal and what their support needs are for meeting their goals.”

Some students will receive community-based vocational instruction (CBVI) if their primary goal is employment after high school and they require some direct coaching support to learn work skills.

“Another option may be the Vocational Skills Program (VSP) for 18- to 21-year-old students located in the community,” says Smith.

Cooperative Work Experience (COOP)

The Cooperative Work Experience (COOP) program is available to qualifying high school students with disabilities whose IEPs indicate the need for work experience in a competitive setting who also are eligible as clients of vocational rehabilitation. Participants learn general skills, such as working under supervision, as well as job-related skills.

COOP offers students:

  • The opportunity to earn elective credit toward graduation for their work.
  • The opportunity to be released from school for at least one hour per day.
  • Supervision by the Work Experience Coordinator (WEC) from the school who will assign credit based on hours worked and provide off-campus supervision.
  • An opportunity to find entry-level employment prior to graduation.
  • Support for increasing the student’s ability to find and hold jobs.
  • Motivation to stay in school.

Catherine Doelling

Spotlight on Student Success

Click here to read how the Project Achieve program and support from SSD have helped Kirkwood High School and South Technical High School student Catherine Doelling achieve success.

Upcoming Workshop

College Preparation for
Students with Special Needs

Jan. 28, 2014
6:30-9 p.m.
SSD Central Office, Room 60

Looking for More?

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12110 Clayton Rd, Town & Country, MO 63131  /  314.989.8100  /  314.989.8552 – 711 (Missouri Relay)

Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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