The mission of UWS is to promote attitudes and practices that are inclusive of persons with disabilities in the community and school system. These attitudes and practices should be culturally and linguistically responsive to diversity, and ensure that parents are knowledgeable about their rights and responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and other statutes and regulations.
UWS has been providing services to the families in Brooklyn since 1990. As a result of the growing needs in New York City, UWS expanded services to include the Borough of Queens, in 2004. Data collected over the years further indicated that in order to improve overall student academic outcomes, it was necessary to find ways to branch out services so that they would be inclusive of youth. In 2008, we began our Students Achieving Success program in collaboration with one of NYS PTIs, a community-based organization Safe Horizon ( known now as NY Peace Institute) and one of NYC largest middle schools located in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Our youth are the future of our society. Self-determination is widely recognized as a valued outcome of education (Mazzotti,Rowe, Cameto, Test, & Morningstar, 2013; Wehman, 2012), and promoting the self-determination of children and youth with intellectual disability has emerged as best practice (Test et al., 2009), in large part, because of the established relationship between enhanced self-determination and post-school outcomes (Shogren, Wehmeyer, Palmer, Rifenbark, & Little, 2015; Wehmeyer & Palmer, 2003; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997). Enhancing self-determination is also consistent with emerging models of understanding disability that emphasize person-environment fit and strengths-based approaches (see ch. 2) (Shogren, 2013). Instructional strategies and supports have been developed and demonstrated to be efficacious in promoting self-determination in education contexts (Algozzine, Browder , Karvonen, Test, & Wood, 2001; Wehmeyer, Palmer, Shogren, Williams-Diehm, & Soukup, 2013).
Increase on-track factors that impact high school graduation (i.e., attendance, behavior, academic), create a safe haven for students with and without disabilities where they will improve social skills, increase participation within the community, increase school retention, and overall high school graduation rates.