Education Week - Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2015 - (Page 17)
Twins Cullen, left, and
Robbie Prall both found
work after leaving high
school in Alexandria,
Va., with a modified
Their mother, Crystal
Prall, says the brothers
could have benefited
from more career
direction in high school.
BY THE NUMBERS:
In Virginia, Jobs Enable Twin Brothers
To 'Walk Taller' After High School
High School Exit Status (Ages 14-21)
s Graduated with
s Received a
s Dropped out s Reached
Number of students with intellectual disabilities (ages 12-17)
NOTES: Because of methodological differences in calculations, data on high school exit status
shown here are not comparable to ACGR graduation rates presented elsewhere in this report.
Details may not add up to 100 percent because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs, 2013
s By Christina A. Samuels
Percent of students in special education with intellectual disabilities (ages 12-17)
Percent in regular classroom at least 40% of day (ages 12-17)
n his sophomore year in high school, Robbie
Prall-tall, lean, and a huge fan of the
Washington Redskins football team-told his
teachers that his plan after graduation was
to be a football linebacker.
From his mother's perspective, the schoolinitiated
conversations about her son's plans
after high school pretty much ended there.
"They never brought it down to be more realistic,"
said Crystal Prall, Robbie's mother. Instead, she felt
that it was left up to the family to develop postsecondary
plans for Robbie and his identical twin, Cullen,
who both have intellectual disabilities.
Both young men earned a modified standard diploma
from the 14,000-student Alexandria district,
which allowed them to graduate without passing Virginia's
Now 20, the brothers live at home, and both have
jobs they say they enjoy. Robbie works in the housekeeping
department of a local hotel, doing jobs like
delivering linens to be washed. He also works at an
athletic-shoe store once a week. "Whatever a customer
says that they need, I go back and bring it to
them," Robbie said.
Cullen got a job at Inova Alexandria Hospital
through a partnership his high school has with the
national program Project search. Project search,
which has been in Alexandria since 2012, places
young adults with disabilities in hospitals and with
other large employers to learn job skills. Cullen
started work in September 2014, but a month later
was hired directly to work in patient transport.
Though twins, the brothers do have different interests.
"I didn't like the hospital aspect" of Project
search, Robbie said.
But for Cullen, the experience was just what he was
looking for. "I like being in the emergency room, transporting
people. It's fast-paced and it's very social," he said.
Ms. Prall calls children like her sons "tweeners."
Their disabilities are not so severe that they required
self-contained classrooms as they moved through
school. But they also could not meet regular academic
Their high school careers were spent primarily in
traditional high school classes, and so they could not
be taken out of class for a portion of the day for job
training or the life-skills classes she felt they needed,
Ms. Prall said.
"I think we do a really poor job with the middle kids
that don't have the behavioral challenges and that
don't have the total academic skills," she said. "The
kids with the behavioral issues demand the attention,
because of their needs. The ones that don't have the
behavioral issues just melt in the back of the room."
She added: "We are so school-minded, instead of lifeminded.
We've lost sight of what's really important."
Jane Quenneville, the special education director for
the Alexandria district, agreed with Ms. Prall's concerns.
The school system case managers who work
with youths and families could do a better job of helping
transform potentially unrealistic future plans
into reality, she said.
"How do you take that dream of being a football
player and carve out something around the spirit of
that job?" Ms. Quenneville added. "We do need to do
a better job of training our case managers in how to
have those conversations."
The inflexibility of the school day for students on
a traditional academic track is also a concern, she
said."We have no time during the day to get them
Partnerships with Project search, as well as inschool
job opportunities, are intended to help address
those issues, she said.
"We're trying to start them younger, so that they're
better prepared" for transitioning out of school, Ms.
Employment has been a positive change for Cullen
and Robbie, their mother said. Both have mastered
public transportation to get to their jobs, and Ms.
Prall said they both "walk taller" now that they are
"There's definitely this huge sense of accomplishment
and success that they didn't have in school,"
she said. s
DIPLOMAS COUNT 2015 s www.edweek.org/go/dc15
Swikar Patel/Education Week
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2015
Education Week - Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2015
After Special Ed., Path Is Less Certain
DATA OVERVIEW: Students with Disabilities In School and Work
BY THE NUMBERS: Hearing Impairment
Md. Senior Opts For University Geared To Students With Hearing Impairments
In College, Students Face Choice: Seek Help or Go It Alone?
BY THE NUMBERS: Emotional Disturbance
At Lab School, Pennsylvania Student Prepares for Career In Culinary Arts
After K-12, Students Must Be Self-Advocates
BY THE NUMBERS: Specific Learning Disability
On Road to College, Georgia Student Learns To Speak for Herself
For Job-Oriented Students, Work Experience Is Critical
Discipline Policies Push Students Off College-and-Career Path
BY THE NUMBERS: Autism
Budding Politician Sets Sights on College
State Diploma Requirements Vary
Common Core: Will Bar Rise For Students With Disabilities?
BY THE NUMBERS: Intellectual Disability
In Virginia, Jobs Enable Twin Brothers To ‘Walk Taller’ After High School
Graduation Rates Reach New Highs, But Gaps Remain
TABLE: Graduation Rate Tops 80 Percent
Education Week - Diplomas Count - Issue 34, 2015