August 18, 2005
To the members of AHEAD from the Board of Directors,
In the summer of 2004, the National Transition Documentation Summit (NTSD) was formed, representing various organizations with an interest in issues related to transition for students with disabilities from K-12 to postsecondary level education. The NTSD requested that AHEAD have representation in this group. In light of the recent 2004 reauthorization of IDEA, which now requires a Summary of Performance (SOP) for students transitioning from K-12, the NTSD focused on creating an SOP template that might be useful for both secondary and postsecondary needs.
Given the impact of this SOP template on postsecondary DSS providers and the AHEAD membership, AHEAD was intent on soliciting feedback from the membership and the community of disability services providers at large about this matter. During June of this year, AHEAD invited the membership to read, think about, and provide their thoughts and feedback on the draft template for an SOP. Background information on this subject and the draft SOP template are available on the AHEAD website at http://www.ahead.org/resources/ideaintro.htm The community of disability service providers and members of AHEAD responded to this call for review/comment and identified poignant issues and concerns. An executive summary of the member feedback is now available for review at http://www.ahead.org/resources/ideasummary.htm The Board of Directors received this summary at its recent July meeting to aid in consideration of possible endorsement of the proposed SOP template.
A final SOP Template was presented to the AHEAD Board on July 18th by the NTSD with a request for endorsement. The Board shared many of the concerns noted in the membership feedback. Careful and circumspect review was given to possible endorsement of the final SOP Template, however, on July 30, 2005, the AHEAD Board voted against endorsement of the final SOP Template, having concluded that an endorsement would not be in the best interests of AHEAD members or the organization. It is important to the AHEAD Board that any SOP template be void of any explicit or implied obligation of postsecondary institutions to any recommendations made by secondary institutions in the SOP. The Board feels that the SOP should provide meaningful information, while maintaining the integrity and independent decision-making of professionals in higher education, in order to insure that DSS service providers can be effective.
The work of the NTSD, including many AHEAD members who were actively involved, has been laudable. AHEAD wishes to continue to work diligently and build upon relationships formed and insights gained to address the issues of transition that affect both the K-12 and postsecondary sectors, and, more importantly, students with disabilities.
AHEAD is firmly committed, both in policy and practice, to working toward improvements in transition outcomes for students with disabilities. We will continue to work with members of the NTSD and others on this vital topic and update members accordingly.