Competitive Integrated Employment Toolkit

Welcome to the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition’s (NTACT) Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE) Toolkit (2017). The toolkit was developed in accordance with the requirements of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) as a resource for use by educational and vocational rehabilitation (VR) agencies to improve post school employment outcomes for students with disabilities. The toolkit was developed to facilitate the collaboration necessary to implement secondary transition services across agencies at the state, community and student levels and increase the use of evidence based practices (EBPs).

The CIE Toolkit has been developed as a framework to assist State and local teams in collaboratively implementing transition services to improve post school employment outcomes for students with disabilities.  The Toolkit is organized in four sections; 1) CIE the Desired Outcome; 2) Transition Services: An overview of the five required activities of pre-employment transition services included in WIOA, as well as secondary transition service requirements found in IDEA and Evidence Based Practices in each area; 3) Interagency Collaboration: Effective practices that support the cross agency and State, community, school and student level collaboration necessary to provide secondary transition services; and 4) Professional Development: information and resources useful in developing skills necessary for both education and vocational rehabilitation professionals.

The toolkit is dynamic in nature and as such, it will continue to grow as we further identify and develop resources and tools that are useful in the implementation of EBPs specific to pre-employment transition services. Additionally, there are numerous live links to resources on NTACT’s website and other internet resources within the toolkit. The toolkit will function best, if you take a moment to create your login at, to access all of the resources available in the CIE Toolkit. 

Individual Section

  • Competitive Integrated Employment (CIE), real work for real pay is the gold standard of transition outcomes for students with disabilities. The work should align with the post-school employment goals of the student and is the desired transition outcome for all students with disabilities who choose to work, regardless of disability or needed accommodations or support. CIE should be a realistic and desirable expectation for all students.

  • Transition Services are meant to provide coordinated experiences and skill development that prepare students for success in post secondary education or training, a career of their choice and participation in their community. Once the IEP team begins to include transition services in the IEP the purpose of planning shifts from simply developing annual goals to now including post school goals. These goals are developed to facilitate the movement from school to post school activities including post secondary education, integrated employment and independent living. Activities necessary to achieve the student’s post secondary goals will occur both in the school and community. The opportunity for students to participate in pre-employment transition services offered through vocational rehabilitation will provide greater access to experiences that lead to the outcome of CIE that reflects a student’s strengths, preferences, and interests.

  • NTACT is charged with assisting stakeholders in implementing evidence-based and promising practices and predictors that promote positive post-school outcomes for all students with disabilities. Effective practices and predictors have been identified based on the amount, type, and quality of the research conducted, and are labeled as either (a) evidence-based, (b) research-based, or (c) promising. Currently NTACT is not identifying “unestablished” practices, but recognizes there are practices in the field for which there is not yet evidence of effectiveness.

  • It has long been held that collaboration among professionals and service systems is an important component of effective initiatives and programs that support the transition of students with disabilities from school to work and adult life (Wehman, 2013). In fact, collaboration among professionals and programs is often necessary for students and students who are touched by many systems and professionals (Luecking & Luecking, 2015; Getzel, et al., 2015; Wehman, 2014). Research has found that when students with disabilities access collaborative services during high school, they are more likely to experience positive postschool outcomes (Noonan, Gaumer-Erickson, & Morningstar, 2013; Test, Mazzotti, et al., 2009). Education and vocational rehabilitation each have separate, mandates to assist students and students to prepare for, obtain and keep employment. However, without clearly identified roles and coordination between the two agencies there are potential problems at both the individual students level where poor collaboration may increase the already complicated path to adult employment as well as at the partner level where resources might not be used in the most effective and efficient way.

  • Professional development (PD) is one key mechanism to assist teachers in learning how to implement transition programs. The PD must consider not only the content (e.g. competitive integrated employment) but also identify effective practices for improving teacher performance and essential features of effective PD including professional learning communities (Benitez, Morningstar, & Frey, 2009; DuFour, 2004). Doren, Flannery, Lombardi, and Kato (2012) highlight several effective features of PD including (a) training in small groups, (b) several trainings and continued practice over time, (c) active learning and the use of problem-solving strategies and scenarios, (d) an interactive approach that aligns with the participant’s interests and experiences, and (e) use of professional learning communities. Additionally, to improve professional development, it is important to focus on the duration, collective participation, and core feature (i.e., content, active learning, and coherence) than the type of PD (Garet et al., 2001) Lastly, transition professional development programs should provide instruction to special educators on how to evaluate their own transition practices and apply those results to a larger framework (e.g., How do communication skills relate to a student being able to gain employment?). Evaluation of transition practices can assist practitioners in improving their ability to implement quality transition practices and improve transition programs (Benitez, Morningstar, & Frey, 2009).