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Going beyond the requirements, UK HDI’s Kentucky Post School Outcomes Center sets exemplary standard for improving students with disabilities transitional outcomes after high school

In 2020, Kentucky students with disabilities who had exited high school in the previous year were asked which resource in high school had continued to help them the most in their current post high school lives. Of the 2,256 responses, the top response (39.2%) was “a teacher, counselor or principal,” followed next by “vocational training” (20.3%). 

The question comes from a YOYO (Youth One Year Out) survey, part of a federal data collection effort regarding the transitional experiences of students with disabilities one year after their high school exit. In Kentucky, the data collection is facilitated by UK’s Human Development Institute (HDI) on behalf of the Kentucky Department of Education, through an initiative called KYPSO (Kentucky Post School Outcomes Center)

KYPSO works closely with Kentucky school districts to create the YOYO surveys, train the educators conducting the one-on-one surveys, aggregate each district’s data into one statewide dataset and, perhaps most importantly, work with school district administrators to interpret their district’s data and create further goals and plans of action. 

The data collected by each district plays an important role in both policymaking and district funding. Kentucky goes well beyond simply checking the boxes to meet the federal requirements, though. 

“Kentucky has done an excellent job of making secondary transition a priority,” Dr. Tony LoBianco, principal investigator and project director of KYPSO, said. “We have kind of served as a model for a few other states and how they go about doing this.” 

The federal requirements for post-school outcomes data are relatively small. States must report, on the state-level only, three data points, those being the percentage of those who are no longer in secondary school, had IEPs in effect at the time they left and were:  

  1. enrolled in higher education within one year of leaving high school 
  1. enrolled in higher education or competitively employed within one year of leaving high school 
  1. enrolled in higher education, competitively employed, enrolled in other education or training, or in some type of employment within one year of leaving high school. 

While some states are able to meet these requirements without conducting one-on-one student interviews in every district, either by taking a smaller sample from a few districts or by using other data sources to determine values for the mandatory data points, a quick look at a KYPSO annual report shows that Kentucky’s efforts are focused on far more than meeting minimum requirements. Interviewing students one-on-one engages Kentucky school districts in all phases of a rich and thorough data collection and reporting process, missing no opportunity to improve transition outcomes. 

“The general public should care about [this] because we’re providing data that tells us about what the future of our youth is going to look like. People should know what kids with disabilities are doing,” Dr. LoBianco said. “People directly in the field of education should care about KYPSO because we’re giving them direct information about their kids and what they could be doing better.” 

As critical as the data is, KYPSO staff are aware that raw data can’t always tell the full story, and they hope to bring forth their expert analyses into Kentucky school districts to continue supporting student transition into adult life. An important clarification Dr. LoBianco makes about the work KYPSO does is that people with disabilities are not a monolithic group.  

“There are so many different needs, and what may work for one person may not work for another person,” Dr. LoBianco said. “I also think sometimes it’s underutilized the amount of support that we can offer. There is really nothing more valuable for schools to do than to sit down with some experts and have plans for how they are going to help our youth transition to adult life… We’re here to help [educators] with that, and I hope they use it.” 

KYPSO’s public data page allows users to view data by varying demographic combinations and by disability category, showing distinctive differences in the transitional experiences among varying groups. One noted disparity is that, among female and male respondents, females tend to have higher post-secondary education rates, while males tend to have higher employment rates. Having access to consistent annual data allows researchers and educators to notice and address these systemic trends. 

“I would love for there to be the ability to follow up longer term. We don’t know what’s happening five years out… ten years out…” Dr. LoBianco said. 

While KYPSO does not have the funding for longer-term follow-up right now, Dr. LoBianco sees an opportunity for future research. YOYO surveys are highly effective at allowing special education researchers and educators to know what is happening in the immediate year after high school, but transition outcomes, as a whole, extend much further.  

If you have questions or would like to chat about transition resources, KYPSO staff can be reached by email at information@kypso.org.  

KY LEND Trainee Spotlight: Meet Nathan French

KYLEND Trainee Spotlight: Nathan French

Nathan French is currently pursuing a Master’s in Social Work while participating in the LEND program to enact cultural and policy changes for the betterment of the disability community. 

Inspired by their experience as a person with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease in the LGBTQIA+ community, French’s interests and research focuses on marriage equality, attitudes towards LGBTQIA+ disabled people, education, and accessibility. 

French is currently enrolled as a trainee in the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute’s (HDI) Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. LEND is a five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau in partnership with the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University. 

These programs share the overall mission of improving the health of infants, children, and adolescents with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. LEND aims to increase the number of professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide evidence-based screening and diagnosis, as well as support to individuals and families.

HDI is currently accepting applications across disciplines for the 2022—2023 academic year. A total of nine trainees will be accepted in the LEND fellowship. The fellowship includes leadership coursework and an array of clinical and community placements each semester. Trainees commit to 15 hours of LEND activities each week.

Applications for the 2022—2023 academic year must be submitted on or before March 4th, 2022. Complete the online application here: www.tinyurl.com/lend2223 

Finalists will be interviewed before the selection of nine trainees for a nine-month fellowship. All applicants will be notified by April 15th, 2022. Trainees must be one of the following: 

  • Enrolled in a graduate or post-graduate training program in a LEND discipline
  • A family member of an individual with an intellectual/developmental disability
  • An individual with an intellectual or developmental disability

Visit www.hdi.uky.edu/kylend2 to learn more and apply online. Contact the Kentucky LEND Project Director caroline.gooden@uky.edu with any questions or to schedule an informational session for your department and interested students!

KYLEND Trainee Spotlight: Tanya Torp

Tanya Torp is an agent for social change and has spent her career engaging in community-based initiatives as a convener, speaker, trainer, facilitator, writer, and consultant. 

She currently serves as Executive Director at Step by Step, Inc., an organization that encourages and equips young single mothers, ages 12–24, through an empowerment model which includes mentoring, deep listening, case management, Support Groups, leadership development, and walking alongside them towards their own definitions of success. She is also Associate Pastor at Embrace United Methodist Church working in the areas of discipleship, leadership development, and women’s ministry.

Torp is currently enrolled as a trainee in the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute’s (HDI) Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. LEND is a five-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau in partnership with the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University. 

These programs share the overall mission of improving the health of infants, children and adolescents with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. LEND aims to increase the number of professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide evidence-based screening and diagnosis, as well as support to individuals and families. 

HDI is currently accepting applications across disciplines for the 2022—2023 academic year. A total of nine trainees will be accepted in the LEND fellowship. The fellowship includes leadership coursework and an array of clinical and community placements each semester. Trainees commit to 15 hours of LEND activities each week.

Applications for the 2022—2023 academic year must be submitted on or before March 4th, 2022. Complete the online application here: www.tinyurl.com/lend2223 

Finalists will be interviewed before the selection of nine trainees for a nine-month fellowship. All applicants will be notified by April 15th, 2022. Trainees must be one of the following: 

  • Enrolled in a graduate or post-graduate training program in a LEND discipline
  • A family member of an individual with an intellectual/developmental disability
  • An individual with an intellectual or developmental disability

Visit www.hdi.uky.edu/kylend2 to learn more and apply online. Contact the Kentucky LEND Project Director caroline.gooden@uky.edu with any questions or to schedule an informational session for your department and interested students!

KYLEND Student Spotlight: Stephanie Battistini

Stephanie Battistini is a third-year Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics Fellow at the University of Louisville. Originally from Florida, she graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Molecular Biology. She obtained her Medical Degree and Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences from Florida State University in May 2015.

She was inspired by the differences in services her two cousins with disabilities received: one had an involved medical team and appropriate resources, while the other did not. After witnessing these differences, she developed a passion for quality improvement, where her current research focus remains. 

Battistini is currently enrolled as a trainee in the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute’s (HDI) Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. LEND is a five year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau in partnership with the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University. 

These programs share the overall mission of improving the health of infants, children and adolescents with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. LEND aims to increase the number of professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide evidence-based screening and diagnosis, as well as support to individuals and families. 

HDI is currently accepting applications across disciplines for the 2022—2023 academic year. A total of nine trainees will be accepted in the LEND fellowship. The fellowship includes leadership coursework and an array of clinical and community placements each semester. Trainees commit to 15 hours of LEND activities each week.

Applications for the 2022—2023 academic year must be submitted on or before March 4th, 2022. Complete the online application here: www.tinyurl.com/lend2223 

Finalists will be interviewed before the selection of nine trainees for a nine month fellowship. All applicants will be notified by April 15th, 2022. Trainees must be one of the following: 

  • Enrolled in a graduate or post-graduate training program in a LEND discipline
  • A family member of an individual with an intellectual/developmental disability
  • An individual with an intellectual or developmental disability

Visit www.hdi.uky.edu/kylend to learn more and apply online. 

Contact the Kentucky LEND Project Director caroline.gooden@uky.edu with any questions or to schedule an informational session for your department and interested students!

KYLEND Trainee Spotlight: Gabriella Martin

Martin is in her fourth year of the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program at Eastern Kentucky University with a goal of becoming a licensed Psychologist. She has a Master’s in Clinical Psychology and is currently a Temporary Licensed Psychological Associate for the state of Kentucky, providing therapeutic and assessment services. She has extensive history working with individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities, particularly those with a diagnosis of autism. 

She has a passion for conducting neuropsychological assessments with medically complex individuals who have or are suspected of having autism or related neurodevelopmental disorders.

Martin is currently enrolled as a trainee in the University of Kentucky Human Development Institute’s (HDI) Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program. LEND is a five year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health Bureau in partnership with the University of Louisville and Eastern Kentucky University. 

These programs share the overall mission of improving the health of infants, children and adolescents with autism and other neurodevelopmental disabilities. LEND aims to increase the number of professionals with the knowledge and skills to provide evidence-based screening and diagnosis, as well as support to individuals and families. 

HDI is currently accepting applications across disciplines for the 2022—2023 academic year. A total of nine trainees will be accepted in the LEND fellowship. The fellowship includes leadership coursework and an array of clinical and community placements each semester. Trainees commit to 15 hours of LEND activities each week.

Applications for the 2022—2023 academic year must be submitted on or before March 4th, 2022. Complete the online application here: www.uky.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_5vAMf2dLWxdaRV4 

Finalists will be interviewed before the selection of nine trainees for a nine month fellowship. All applicants will be notified by April 15th, 2022. Trainees must be one of the following: 

  • Enrolled in a graduate or post-graduate training program in a LEND discipline
  • A family member of an individual with an intellectual/developmental disability
  • An individual with an intellectual or developmental disability

Visit www.hdi.uky.edu/kylend to learn more and apply online. Contact the Kentucky LEND Project Director caroline.gooden@uky.edu with any questions or to schedule an informational session for your department and interested students!