Q. Karla, please introduce yourself.
A. I am Karla Phillips-Krivickas, and I am the CEO and Founder of Think Inclusion where our mission is to make sure that students with disabilities are included in every policy program and initiative.
Q. What do pathways mean to you?
A. Pathways are really the avenues in which student gets from A to B. Maybe they get to college, maybe they get to a career… wherever they’re gonna go. It’s the road that leads them to their post-school opportunities.
Q. How do they find that road, though? It’s not easily seen sometimes…. sometimes you have to like move some leaves and stuff out of the way.
A. Well, the ones that I’ve been focusing on are obviously for students with disabilities given my company’s focus. In fact, I recently released a report for Colorado: How to illuminate the pathways for students with disabilities in Colorado. What I really learned during this research is that the pathway already exists for students with disabilities but nobody really knows about it.
In federal law they have individualized education plans and there’s a requirement that when they turn 16 the IEPs must now include transition goals and services meaning what is their post-school goal college career. Then the IEP for the remainder of their high school career is supposed to be all about the goals and the services and support that the schools will get to help them achieve those goals and that was.
So the question is how do we bring greater awareness to these pre-existing pathways? Another thing I want to bring awareness to is that the federal government requires every state to report, for every school district, what the post-school outcomes are for all kids with disabilities. We have a lot of data… all of which says that the outcomes are abysmal and they haven’t gotten much better over time. This data is important. Especially as we talk about college and career readiness and accountability systems and all of those other items. How can we think about incorporating this really important metric for our kids with disabilities?
Q. What are some strategies that you can utilize to illuminate those pathways and bring more awareness to the data?
A. So, I wrote a report in November of 2021 for the College and High School Alliance on their website that was a 50 state scan of those policies and where we made over 20 recommendations with state examples. Data is really the first big thing and then the second thing is raising awareness because most people don’t know, including families and school counselors, because they just kind of assume that special education is going to handle that right? The third part requires a lot of training and not because we’re not already doing training, but really kind of taking it to the next level.
Q. So, what are some final thoughts for those who are interested in truly leaning in on how to illuminate pathways? What are some good next steps?
A. The US department of education has a really great transition guide that they update every year that’s on their website and it’s voluminous. I would start with that. But again I think it’s more than just training and awareness… it’s really raising the bar raising the expectations.