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IES Grant

Title: A Study of the Effects of a Three-Tier Model of Interagency Collaboration on Transition Outcomes for Students with Disabilities
Center: NCSER Year: 2011
Principal Investigator: Test, David Awardee: University of North Carolina, Charlotte
Program: Transition to Postsecondary Education, Career, and/or Independent Living      [Program Details]
Award Period: 05/01/2011–04/30/2015 Award Amount: $2,495,693
Type: Efficacy and Replication Award Number: R324A110018

Purpose: Although post-school outcomes for students with disabilities have improved in the past 10 years, students with disabilities still consistently experience poor outcomes in the areas of education, employment, and independent living when compared to their peers without disabilities. To improve transition outcomes, the researchers will examine the efficacy of a three-tier model of interagency collaboration, called the Communicating Interagency Relationships and Collaborative Linkages for Exceptional Students (CIRCLES), on transition outcomes for students with disabilities. They will provide empirical information about the CIRCLES intervention as compared to the business-as-usual services provided to students with disabilities.

Project Activities: A cluster randomized trial with school-level random assignment will be used to examine the effects of CIRCLES on student transition outcomes. It is hypothesized that CIRCLES will have positive effects on students' in-school academic and functional achievement outcomes, as well as post-school outcomes (i.e., employment, education, independent living). Schools in the CIRCLES condition are required to participate in a two-day CIRCLES Training Institute at UNC Charlotte. Schools in the business-as-usual condition will use their current secondary transition program. Multiple in-school and post-school measures will be used to evaluate the efficacy of CIRCLES and fidelity measures will be collected throughout the academic school year. Outcome data will be analyzed using a two-level hierarchical linear model.

Products: The products of this study include evidence of the efficacy of the CIRCLES intervention, publications, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The study will be conducted in six school districts located in North Carolina.

Population: Participants in this study are high school students with disabilities between the ages of 14 and 21.

Intervention: CIRCLES involves three levels of interagency collaboration (i.e., community-level team, school-level team, and individual-level team). The community-level team provides administrative leadership for the array of transition services offered and assists in finding solutions for problems that may arise in service delivery. The school-level team provides each student with access to an array of representatives from community agencies that may provide services to the student after graduation. The individual-level team writes the IEP including the transition component.

Research Design and Methods: The study will use a cluster randomized trial design to examine the efficacy of CIRCLES. A total of 58 schools are randomly assigned to the CIRCLES or the comparison group condition. Hierarchical linear models are applied to collected data.

Control Condition: The control condition will be existing "business as usual" transition programs for students with disabilities.

Key Measures: Measures used to determine the outcomes are: (a) North Carolina's Indicator 14 data collection instrument for post-school outcomes; (b) North Carolina's Indicator 2 data collection instrument for dropout rates; (c) North Carolina's Indicator 1 data collection instrument for graduation rates; (d) AIR Self-Determination Scales for level of self-determination; (e) participation in IEP meetings measured using a Likert rating scale completed by IEP team members; and (f) number of absences, office referrals, suspensions, and course performance and completion for academic performance for in-school outcomes.

Data Analytic Strategy: For school-level outcomes, repeated measures across 3 years of intervention are modeled and examined at the end of 3 years using two-level hierarchical linear modeling. For student-level outcomes, the students within both treatment and control schools will be examined annually with two-level hierarchical linear modeling. Student and school structural characteristics will be included in the model to examine the effects on student outcomes. An index of Achieved Relative Strength will be calculated to examine differences between causal components in the CIRCLES and comparison conditions. Social validity of CIRCLES will be examined using data from stakeholders' focus groups and surveys.


Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Povenmire-Kirk, T., Diegelmann, K., Crump, K., Schnorr, C., Test, D.W., Flowers, C., and Aspel, N. (in press). Implementing CIRCLES: A New Model for Interagency Collaboration in Transition Planning. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation.