The Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative Video

Uploaded by communityinclusion on 01.03.2010


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College is kind of like a challenge, um, you get to learn new things that you're not learning in high school.

What I'm doing in college can help me, so I can make more money with the job I pick, instead of making less
and have to go from job to job, to support myself.

The reason why I'm going to college is because I can get an education. I want everybody to know who I am,
I want my family to be proud, I want my friends to be proud, I want to have a wonderful life
and I hope -- that's it. That's all I have to say, right there.

I think about becoming a lawyer, actor, or director, and as I told you, I love to read.

Two, is seeing people who I know in the community.

My one recommendation for a family, besides letting them try, would be plan to be surprised.
In Massachusetts, a new group of students are making their way to college and starting the next
phase of their education. They are enrolling in college courses and taking advantage of all the
benefits, meeting new people, participating in campus activities, and overall, becoming part of the
college community.

These students are unique because they represent a population that no one expected would be able
to go to college. They are students who are between the ages of 18 and 21 and are identified
as having severe disabilities. Because of longstanding practices in higher and K through 12
education, and adult services, these students were more likely to transition from high school to
sheltered employment, day habilitation programs or low paying jobs.
Few had the opportunity to attend college, to develop the knowledge and skills that help lead to paid
competitive employment.

The Governor and I believe strongly that some level of postsecondary education is going to be important for
all of our students, to take advantage of an ever-changing employment market in which higher skills
and higher knowledge is constantly being demanded and renewed each year. So, our students with disabilities
every bit as much as our other students are going to need access to postsecondary education.
Now, the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment initiative is helping to make the option of college
available to students in participating school districts across the Commonwealth.
Beginning in 2007, with funds appropriated by the Massachusetts legislature, the
Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment initiative supported the establishment of six partnerships
between colleges and neighboring school districts.
These partnerships offer high school students who have severe disabilities, have completed four
years of high school, and who do not meet the requirements of the state and their school district to
earn a diploma, an opportunity to go to college. Participating students are still eligible for
special education services, but now are learning skills as their peers do, at college, in the community, and at work.
Our relationships with the high schools were weak, in the past.

And that this collaboration, this partnership with the high schools has taught all of us, both at the college
level, and at the high school level, about what the other does. It has also helped us a great deal to understand
how we can bridge that transition from high school to college or from high school to adult life for students.

We never successfully did that before.
Currently, nearly 30 school districts and seven colleges from across Massachusetts are involved
with close to an average of 100 students a year. With guidance from the Department of Higher Education
and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the colleges and schools collaborate to
facilitate a smooth transition for students to take courses at the college related to a career goal and /or
other areas of interest. Using seed funds from the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment initiative, the college and
high school partners have piloted a cost effective inclusive supported education model to provide students with
access to all aspects of college life and paid employment during their transition from high school to adult life.

Additionally, students learn how to use public or para-transit transportation to and from college,
work, and the community at large. Funds are also used to support new liaison roles that coordinate all
activities for students and families between the college and high school.

When you embrace this concept, and when you put aside your stereotypical thinking about individuals with
intellectual disabilities, you open up a whole new world for people with disabilities and the expectations
for people with disabilities.
I really hadn't thought about how it was going to benefit the other students
or how it was even going to benefit me. That didn't occur to me at the beginning.

I thought it might be a little bit more work, but I was open to the idea.
But what I learned was that it really wasn't anymore work at all.

And he was such a delight in the class, that everyone, first of all, he was so excited to be there.

And he took in everything said, everything, every improv, every discussion,
he was just listening so closely trying to get everything out of it.

And I think the other students learned not to take what they were doing just for granted.

They saw how hard he was working and they realized maybe they should step up to the plate
just like he was, so he actually taught them.
After participating in activities that encourage them to identify their postsecondary plans, students meet
with a college liaison and staff from the Disability Services office at the college to determine what
accommodations they may need to be successful and to select courses that support their postsecondary
plans. Many students start with introductory courses designed to prepare students for the
responsibilities of college and to help them narrow down work interests. In every case, students are
encouraged to view this college experience as an important phase of life-long learning that helps to
explore and meet their goals well into the future.

I would like to encourage my colleague presidents to participate in such projects. I think it enriches the college
community. I for example believe in diversity, and I believe in the diversity of all of human potential. So in all of
the areas that we talk about, diversity is not just race and class, or gender, I think definitely ability, disabilities,
accommodations are all part of it.
And if really you have a full diversity program on your campus, then you need to have these kinds of programs
on your campus as well.
An important feature of the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment initiative is that it provides students with needed
individualized supports as they transition out of high school. Educational coaches, hired by either
the school districts or the colleges, are trained to promote each student's self-determination and self-
sufficiency while navigating the college experience. These coaches are a critical support for some
students, and they play an important role in preparing students to assume responsibility for their participation in
college and eventually, in all aspects of adult life.

Supporting students behind the scenes is a partnership between the school districts and the community
colleges. The partnerships regularly recruit new members from the community who can assist with
related issues such student employment.

A major goal of this initiative is to ensure that students are engaged in paid employment before they exit
school. To achieve this goal, partners also assist students to find work that aligns with their career aspirations
just as their college courses do. By pairing these activities - work and college courses - these young adults
are prepared to enter the Massachusetts workforce with competitive work skills.

Overall, the Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment initiative has demonstrated that students with severe disabilities

are able to continue learning at the college level, are learning self-determination skills
in adult settings, are advocating for themselves regarding their career interests,
getting paid employment, and the accommodations they need to be successful,

are learning how to become life-long learners, and
are working in inclusive paid competitive employment before leaving school.

I think this is the future. I think this is the future of education, this is the future of civil rights, this is the future of
inclusion. That if we're going to include people in our society, we have to include them in our society,
we can't segregate them from certain portions of it and say "Yea, we want to include you here and want you
to do this, but this part of our society is reserved only us and not for you."

We need to include everybody everywhere, if we're really going to include them, and I think that's what
this is.
I think that the other piece of this is, if we do that, if we do this well, that we included people in education,
and included them in higher education, and given the students themselves this very high expectation, that when they
go out to the workforce, their expectation is going to be such that they want to work, they want a good job,
they want to make a lot of money, they want to support their families or live independently, or whatever it is they
need to do, they've been now taught, this is what you do, and I think that part of it is a real big part, that
I think is going to pay off for states all across the country and for our society, I think
that's something we really need to do.
I would say, just go, do what you have to do, cause it looks hard,
but trust me, once you get over it and all that stuff, cause I tell them
like, if it was me, it might be hard for me, but I got over it,
but I'm doing my best to get this over with, and I say just go to college,
and learn a lot of stuff, and meet new people,
and I will promise you, you're gonna think that college is fun.