Transition Spotlight: Helping Youth Succeed

Sun Dec 17 2017
Portrait of Eileen Klemm.

The path from youth to adulthood is exciting, full of opportunities and challenges, but navigating this life transition can be difficult. ICI's Transition program area works to improve access and success for at-risk students and students with disabilities in secondary and postsecondary education, as well as employment, independent living, and community participation. Check & Connect (C&C) - the evidence-based student engagement intervention that has been adopted and implemented around the U.S. and internationally since ICI developed it in the 1990s - remains a cornerstone, but program area director Eileen Klemm (pictured), notes that the program area also encompasses projects as varied as Making a Map: Finding My Way Back (MAP Project), Expanding the Circle: Transition Resources for American Indian Students, and Using Check & Connect to Improve Graduation Rates in Minnesota for Black and American Indian Students with Disabilities. ICI Transition has scored many "wins" this year, including:

  • Awarded a $2.5 million, 5-year Stepping Up Technology Implementation grant in October from the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education.

  • Hosted the biennial Check & Connect Student Engagement Conference, welcoming to campus 45 presenters and 150 conference participants from 17 states and 1 Canadian province.

  • Published Expanding the Circle (2nd ed). The 2017 edition offers a structured process and culturally relevant activities for American Indian high school students as they transition to adult life.

  • Launched the new Check & Connect App during the 2017 conference, a tool that helps Check & Connect mentors and coordinators document, monitor, and report on student progress using a web browser on their computer or tablet.

  • Published A Better Path, A Better Future (see related Feature Story above) in November, the final report of the MAP Project, presenting strategies for supporting community reentry of youth with disabilities in the juvenile justice system.

  • Over 1,000 registrations to use the Student Engagement Instrument,  a web-supported intervention that establishes reliable and valid measures of students' cognitive and affective engagement. This instrument is free and publicly available on C&C's website, but people need to register to gain permission and access.

  • Conducted 150 Check & Connect implementation trainings since C&C's national conference in October 2015 through open enrollment, contracts, and sponsored projects in 22 states and 3 international locations. Eight states have participated in a train-the-trainer process and now have local certified Check & Connect trainers who can train within their state.

  • Sold 2,298 copies of the manual, Check & Connect: A Comprehensive Student Engagement Intervention: Implementing with Fidelity, between the October 2015 conference and October 2, 2017. 

Klemm acknowledges these accomplishments, but she is looking forward. "In 2018, we plan to develop online training modules to support implementation of the Check & Connect model and use of the Check & Connect App," she says. "And we will soon release to the public a web-based application for the Student Engagement Instrument." Like the young people it serves, the focus of ICI Transition is on the future.