The Shenandoah Valley Regional Program has a long history of providing quality staff development for transition services. Following the reauthorization of IDEA in 1997, school divisions began to focus on more effective transition services. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) identified grant funds to initiate a pilot transition project and the Shenandoah Valley Regional Program was chosen as a site for the project. The Shenandoah Valley Regional Program, in partnership with its member school divisions (Augusta, Harrisonburg, Page, Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Staunton), identified the following goals:
- Increase or enhance transition services in the schools through transition teams and regional collaboration
- Increase school practitioner skills through structured training
- Establish or improve interagency cooperation and business partnerships
- Expand community-based work sites and decrease transition service disparity among high schools
- Develop and implement individual needs assessment for high schools that reflect those factors associated with successful transition services
- Identify service needs per school division that can be provided in a regional format
- Explore regional resources
- Develop a model process for replication in other localities
With the support of VDOE staff and consultants, the local special education administrators developed the Special Education Transition Needs Assessment. One high school in each of the six school divisions was selected to establish a school-based Transition Partnership Team (TPT) and to conduct a building-level needs assessment. Initially each team was assigned a facilitator from the VDOE or Training and Technical Assistance Centers (T/TAC) to assist the teams in the self-assessment process. Subsequently, school-based teams met on a regular basis to complete the needs assessment, develop goals and objectives, and plan activities.
The TPT in Rockingham County Public Schools identified the need for a tool to guide teachers in documenting transition activities completed by the students and staff. The TPT determined a portfolio design to be the most effective and efficient tool to meet the needs of the school divisions, teachers and most importantly, students. Members of the TPTs from the six school divisions then convened on a regular basis to refine the transition portfolio and to develop a transition resource guide. These materials were designed to serve as a model to assist school staff in developing and implementing transition services for students with disabilities.