Introduction to the National Standards & Quality Indicators

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  1. What are the national standards and quality indicators?
  2. Why are these national standards and quality indicators needed?
  3. How were these standards and indicators developed?
  4. What is unique about these standards and indicators?
  5. What is the research that supports these standards and indicators?
  6. How do I access these standards and indicators (with supporting research) for each content area?
  7. How can states and local communities use these standards and indicators in strategic planning?
  8. How are these standards and indicators being used across the nation?

1. What are the national standards and quality indicators?

The NASET national standards and quality indicators are research-based benchmarks that articulate quality secondary education and transition services for all youth. These standards and indicators can guide state and local administrators and practitioners responsible for planning and implementing comprehensive transition systems for youth, ultimately becoming a catalyst for constructive change in transition practices and policies nationwide.

2. Why are these national standards and quality indicators needed?

The establishment of a common vision, along with goals and strategies for improving results for all youth, is necessitated by several significant trends and developments nationally. These include:

3. How were these standards and indicators developed?

The initial work of organizing and convening NASET, facilitating the development of the standards and quality indicators, and efforts to pilot varied uses and applications of the standards and quality indicators within NASET member organizations, states, and local communities and school districts has been undertaken by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition.

As a first step, the NASET members identified five key areas for standards development:

  1. Schooling
  2. Career Preparatory Experiences
  3. Youth Development and Youth Leadership
  4. Family Involvement
  5. Connecting Activities

Next, internal focus groups were established to address each of the five areas. Each focus group consisted of 7–10 members and included both national organization representatives and experts from the field. Group members also represented the perspectives of youth with and without disabilities, family members, educators, administrators, researchers, service providers, and employers.

NASET members participated in several daylong facilitated discussions to collectively describe the five areas and define associated standards and indicators of effective practice. The standards and indicators were derived from research as well as from members’ experiences with and knowledge about best practices in secondary education, transition, youth development, family involvement, workforce preparation, and service coordination.

Criteria were established to guide the development of the standards and quality indicators. It was determined that standards and indicators should:

A consensus-building process was used to achieve agreement on the standards and indicators for each of the five content areas.

4. What is unique about these standards and indicators?

Over the years, efforts to improve secondary education and transition services have focused on creating opportunities for all youth, including youth with disabilities, English language learners, youth from diverse cultural backgrounds, and those from low-income families. One of the major challenges in addressing diverse student needs has been the lack of a common vision, shared goals, and coordinated strategies among schools, community service agencies, families, employers, and others. Several conceptual frameworks, sets of standards, and other criteria have been developed in recent years to guide program planning and decision-making. However, these efforts have not been focused broadly enough to encompass the more recent concern for all students. That is, the frameworks developed to date, have been developed to address education and related transition services for students from a career development perspective, special education only perspective, etc. What is critically needed is a common and comprehensive framework and standards that can bring the diverse perspectives of general education, special education, workforce development, youth, and families together to address the needs of all students and align with the goals of No Child Left Behind, the Workforce Investment Act, and other federal legislation.

5. What is the research that supports these standards and indicators?

Research must serve as the foundation for state and local technical assistance and improvement efforts. The five key areas of Schooling, Career Preparatory Experiences, Youth Development and Youth Leadership, Family Involvement, and Connecting Activities provide a useful structure for examining critical areas of need for all youth and their families. The standards and indicators developed by the National Alliance for Secondary Education and Transition are based on sound evidence and research that supports their utility in the field. This document highlights the evidence and research that supports each of the key areas and the specific standards and indicators found in this document.

Cover pageThe Transition Toolkit identifies and presents research, federal government documents, commissioned reports, and other sources that serve as the foundation upon which the National Standards for Secondary Education and Transition for all Youth are based. This compilation should not be viewed as all-inclusive, but rather as illustrative of the range of research and expert analysis currently available. Cited documents were identified through a variety of sources and strategies including:

  1. literature searches within each of the five NASET organizing domains,
  2. recommendations by staff of NASET member organizations,
  3. members of the five workgroups that developed the standards and indicators, and
  4. consultation with recognized experts.

It is important to note that this document, and the Standards themselves, will require regular updating in response to new research developments and advancements in professional practice.

Visit each content area (links in left sidebar) for specific supporting evidence and research.

6. How do I access these standards and indicators (with supporting research) for each content area?

You may access the standards and indicators (with supporting research) for each content area by reading them online (follow the links below or at the top of any page in the left column) or by downloading the entire Transition Toolkit.

7. How can states and local communities use these standards and indicators in strategic planning?

These standards and indicators can guide state and local administrators and practitioners responsible for planning and implementing comprehensive transition systems for youth, ultimately becoming a catalyst for constructive change in transition practices and policies nationwide.

NASET has developed a Self-Assessment Tool designed to facilitate communication and sharing within and among interagency partners, based upon a common understanding of what constitutes quality and best practices in secondary education and transition. States and local communities are encouraged to use this self-assessment tool to:

By completing this self-assessment tool, users will articulate a shared frame of reference from which to build commitment and focus for setting priorities and improving secondary education and transition practices at both state and local levels.

NASET has also developed a Priority Setting Tool to assist interagency partners in identifying primary areas for improvement and ranking their order of importance. Users assign each standard high, mid, or low importance in conjunction with its self-assessment score to determine its priority for improvement. Once each standard is rated, users choose the three standards rated highest in priority for improvement and develop goals and action steps for each. For each action step, users identify the lead agency, the critical partners, timelines, technical assistance needs, and projected outcomes.

Finally, NASET has developed an Action Planning Tool designed to assist interagency partners in identifying goals, action steps, and technical assistance needs for the top three priority areas identified in the Priority Setting Tool. Your state or district team can then use this information for both short-term and long-term planning.

Note: Information generated using the NASET Priority Setting and Action Planning Tools is for users’ planning purposes only.

You will download these tools when you download the entire Transition Toolkit (in PDF or MS Word).

8. How are these standards and indicators being used across the nation?

In addition to being used as a strategic planning tool by states and local school districts, the standards and quality indicators were also used as an organizing tool for developing or refining state strategic action plans at the 2005 National Leadership Summit on Improving Results for All Youth (this link opens in a new window), held June 14-15, 2005 in Washington, DC. Forty-six states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Pacific Rim entities, and the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs participated in the two-day event, sponsored/hosted by the National Center on Secondary Education and Transition. Teams averaged eight members who represented a broad range of state agencies including general education, special education, postsecondary education, workforce development, and youth development as well as family members and youth. During the Summit, the leadership teams used the standards and indicators to better understand current operations; identify areas of strength, weakness, and opportunity; determine actions for improving and scaling up systems; and assess their progress from the 2003 National Leadership Summit (this link opens in a new window), which was held in September 2003.

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