In November 2003, 30 national organizations assembled in Washington, DC to establish a national voluntary coalition, the National Alliance for Secondary Education and Transition (NASET). Subsequently, additional organizations joined the NASET effort, bringing the total involved to more than 40 national organizations and individuals representing general education, special education, career and technical education, youth development, postsecondary education, workforce development, and families. NASET was formed specifically to:
Since November 2003, NASET has worked to define a multi-organizational perspective by identifying benchmarks that reflect quality secondary education and transition services for all youth. NASET’s primary task, therefore, has been to promote high quality and effective secondary education and transition services by articulating standards that serve to guide policy development and professional practice at both state and local levels.
The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET), headquartered at the University of Minnesota, has facilitated the work of NASET since its inception. NCSET is a national technical assistance and information dissemination center funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. NCSET is specifically focused on strengthening state and local capacity to improve secondary education and transition policies and practices for youth with disabilities and their families.
One of the most important applications of the NASET standards and quality indicators is to support cross-agency planning focused on the improvement of secondary education and transition services at the state and community levels. In June 2005 NCSET conducted a two-day event, the National Leadership Summit on Improving Results for All Youth in Washington, DC. A total of 50 leadership teams, representing forty-six states, the District of Columbia, Virgin Islands, Pacific Rim entities, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, participated in the Summit. Each leadership team was composed of representatives of major state agencies and personnel representing general education, special education, career and technical general education, postsecondary education, workforce development, and other interests. Family members and youth were also included on many of the leadership teams.
The NASET standards and quality indicators were used by the leadership teams: (1) to conduct a self-assessment and identify high-priority areas in need of improvement prior to attending the Summit, and (2) as a strategy to support the development of individual team action plans focused on the improvement of secondary education and transition services. The states participating in the National Leadership Summit are continuing to use the NASET standards and indicators in supporting their planning and program improvement efforts, and as a method and strategy for evaluating progress. Wisconsin, Ohio, Nebraska, and others are also developing a statewide strategy for “scaling up” the applications and use of the NASET standards and quality indicators within communities and local school districts.
The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition has also compiled the NASET standards and indicators into a comprehensive document entitled National Standards and Quality Indicators: Transition Toolkit for Systems Improvement (2005). This publication includes the standards and quality indicators, information on supporting research and best practices, and specific system tools designed to support state and community interagency planning groups. The system tools include a process for self-assessment for identifying state and local needs, a process for building consensus and setting priorities in relation to specific identified needs, and a process to support state and community-level action planning. Since the publication of this document in June 2005, more than 3,500 copies have been disseminated nationwide, and the requests continue.
The more than 40 national organizations and individuals that comprise NASET have expressed interest in continuing to serve as a voluntary body that meets to identify and prioritize significant issues of a national scale that impact the provision of effective secondary education and transition services, policies, and practices.