The purpose of the Pathways Program is to provide intensive vocational and transition experiences and training in community settings for high school students with disabilities ages 18-21. They have met their high school credit and assessment requirements, but are still enrolled in the district and are receiving services under an IEP. An important feature of Pathways is that the students do not stay in their building for the entire school day. Instead, they spend a significant amount of their day in the community, where they access the local environment with support so that they can use acquired classroom skills in a real-world setting. Pathways provides services in the community that enable students to begin coordinating schedules and supports with input from the school district, thereby increasing their independence in the environment they will be accessing throughout their adult lives:
- Building a sustainable adult schedule
- Increasing independence
- Eliminating barriers to employment and community access
- Developing natural/paid supports and fading school supports
- Meeting postsecondary goals
- Preparing for transition from secondary to post-secondary life.
The program focuses on the transition needs and life domains consisting of employment, independent living skills and recreation and leisure activities for each student. It is a bridge that leads students to the jobs, connections, and supports that they will need for adulthood.
Pathways enables students to move beyond the high school setting and continue their education in an age appropriate work-based environment with their peers. Students receiving Pathways services are in the community as much as possible to gain real-world experiences, and access the campus/school-based setting primarily to work on other daily living skills such as cooking, cleaning, washing, laundry, and other skills necessary for independent living. Pathways is based at an off campus location. Each month’s schedule is determined by availability of community sites and the students’ transition needs, which are based on individual students’ IEPs and the ARD Committee-determined transition goals that address the four life domains. The Pathways job coach/teacher, in conjunction with the campus Diagnostician are responsible for the transition process, determines what is available within the community and then schedules the times that students will access the new environments. Students are transported to community sites in school-owned vehicles. The Pathways teacher is also responsible for monitoring student progress toward IEP goals and preparing IEP progress reports. He/she also works closely with the students’ families to help access adult service agencies, independent living options, and potential guardianship.
Students who need support for developing appropriate social skills may receive that support in the Pathways setting, unless their behavioral needs are significant enough to suggest placement in a more restrictive, structured behavioral setting. The social skills component in the Pathways setting promotes responsibility for one’s own actions and teaches replacement behaviors that enable the student to function successfully in a variety of school settings. Social skills may be addressed in the student’s IEP through goals and short-term objectives related to development of identified social skills and/or specific behavioral needs.