The High Road School of Fairfield County has a comprehensive Transition Program in place for all high school students. The vocational coordinators on staff address the transition goals listed in each student’s individualized educational plan, as well as coordinate vocational interest inventories, community out-placements, and on-site school jobs.
The first year of the Transition Program entails student participation in a preparatory multi-level curriculum. The Work Readiness class in the morning provides instruction in developing the basic skills needed to succeed in a job. The curriculum also provides individual student support in such areas as hygiene and professional dress, interviewing skills, taking directives, and dealing with unexpected scenarios. Each skill is taught through classroom-based instruction complemented by role-playing, to give the students an opportunity to practice typical work situations. The students must display acquisition of each skill taught before advancing to the next. The Work Readiness class runs 6 to 10 weeks, depending on the extensiveness of the content being taught.
The beginning of this phase of the curriculum also includes administering a Vocational Interest Survey that assesses student interests and aptitudes using a variety of quick-response inventories, as well as a computer-based inventory called CareerScope. The results of these reports guide the future training programs and community experiences in which each student would most likely achieve success by narrowing the employment possibilities to those that reflect their particular preferences and proficiencies.
The second component of the first-year student’s program consists of afternoon job cluster rotations. Based on areas of interest identified through the vocational surveys, students rotate among major training areas we offer to gauge true interest in performing jobs in these fields daily. Rotations are limited to three students at a time, ensuring individualized skill development throughout a two- to three-month period and giving staff and students an accurate record of the depth and breadth of their interest. Long-term success remains a guiding principle in the development of needed skills. During this phase, data collection obtained through ongoing assessments reveals specific supports the student will need to be successful (e.g., a one-to-one job coach, diminishing supervision, etc.).
After narrowing down the possibilities for the most suitable career paths per student, the second year of our Transition Program focuses on functional academics and work readiness remediation and troubleshooting, in the morning, followed by customized training in the relevant field(s) through volunteer opportunities, in the afternoon. Students enter specialized training in a specific field with the expectation of eventually completing the final phase of the program in the third or fourth year by filling a community-based employment need. This can be fulfilled in a variety of ways—through an enclave, through supported employment, or through independent or competitive employment—with the community-based opportunities negotiated and secured by our vocational training staff.
Lastly, the vocational coordinators for these community-based positions conduct periodic surveys with employers to gather feedback on what refinements are needed to continue advancing the student’s skill set. The ultimate goal is sustaining their community-based job en route to a productive and rewarding future in a field well suited to each student.