Examining the Social Networks of Special Educators Supporting Transition-Aged Students: An Explanatory Sequential Mixed Methods Study
Bumble, Jennifer Lynn
Successful transition outcomes for youth with disabilities necessitate collaboration within and beyond the school system. Ideally, this collaboration entails a wide range of professionals across school systems, service systems, and communities coming together as part of a “transition network” to contribute to transition planning, services, and supports. Using a statewide survey of 509 middle and high school special educators and 10 semi-structured interviews, this mixed methods study (a) examined the characteristics of transition networks and factors associated with network size, and (b) explored educators’ perspectives and experiences related to their transition networks. Quantitative analyses indicated that larger transition networks were associated with working in a high school, primarily supporting students with moderate/severe disabilities, and reporting higher levels of knowledge about how to establish collaborative partnerships. Qualitative findings cross-validated the quantitative data, and outlined recommendations for building “effective” transition networks. These findings extend the literature on transition collaboration and have important implications for special educators, school administrators, and district staff.