Frequently Asked Questions

What is TRACE all about?

TRACE started over 20 years ago by providing services as outlined in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) legislation that mandated services for students until they receive a diploma or turn 22 years of age. Later in the revisions of IDEA it called specifically for Transition Services and directed the schools to focus those special education services in an "outcome" and later "results" oriented process for students 16 years of age and beyond. Specifically districts must address Education, Employment and Training, and when appropriate Life Skills. In San Diego Unified School District TRACE is the Adult (18 – 22) support network designed to provide agreed upon services through the IEP process. We are committed to supporting students to access integrated, age-appropriate community activities that will promote a seamless transition to each student's preferred adult life.

Students are encouraged to be as independent as possible in the community through the development of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) including the Transition Plan (TP). Supports are identified to facilitate life goals. Person Centered Planning (PCP) is used to assist the student in creating a vision for the future and to assist the student in the planning process of IEP/TP. Through this process, the student is able to realize their goals and make them a reality. The following services are generally provided:

  • Job Placement
  • Recreation/Leisure activities
  • Self-Advocacy
  • Classes that are offered through community colleges, and training programs that encourage life-long learning
  • CTEEP - Career Technical Education Equity Program
  • Accessing the student's local community (shopping, banking, etc.)
  • Independent living skills which encourage living independently
  • Mobility training in order to access various community opportunities
  • Linkage with integrated community agencies including HSDP, Community College, Regional Center, Dept. Of Rehabilitation.

What is Community Based Instruction (CBI)?

The community is the student's classroom. In a very general sense it is taking the skills learned in discrete settings and applying them in a real life natural setting. It is critical for those students who need to both generalize the learning as well as add relevance to what is being learned. The "community" in a more specific sense for any given student can include anything from the real work setting, community college classroom, store, bank, local recreation center, theatre, MTS bus, place of worship, or any place the student's life goals may take them.

Why CBI?

In addition to assisting students to generalize skills learned in a more discrete learning environment and adding relevance to the isolated compartmentalized learning practiced in most traditional school settings, CBI enhances and increases the learning for the student. By teaching the literacy and computation skills in the "real" world setting the students are introduced to novel words and the need to compute in novel ways as each environment in the community change. Critical words and vocabulary for the work setting are different than the recreation setting or those used in each of the variety of stores the students may be exposed to throughout the day. The "teachable moment" is literally presented around each new corner.

Can you receive a diploma from TRACE?

TRACE will support you in getting a diploma through community options available to all to young adults including: the High School Diploma Program and the Community College. TRACE will provide Specialized Academic Instruction as identified in the IEP.

What are some of the services we can receive from TRACE?

In addition to Specialized academic instruction TRACE can provide transition services which might include vocational search and placement involving training, educational learning support and life skills including: mobility, help with health access, recreation, fiscal management, and mental health services. All of the services are identified on the IEP.

Who does TRACE provide services to?

We can provide services to students who meet the following criteria:

Must be 18-22 years of age

Live within the boundaries of SDUSD

Have an active IEP

Have not received a high school diploma

What is expected of me to take advantage of TRACE services?

It is best if you have successfully completed your high school course of study and participated with your peers in the rights of passage related to graduation.

You actively participate in the person-centered planning (PCP) process, and develop goals that reflect your interests, abilities, as well as indentifying possible barriers resulting in a plan and the necessary support to achieve your dreams and goals.

How can TRACE services and supports look?

TRACE services are provided through an individualized IEP process and person centered plan. TRACE will look different for each student. The transition language in IDEA stipulates that the team will consider vocational needs, including training, educational and independent living skills based on the student's interests. The scope of transition services for each student will vary. A determination is made about the services and support a student should receive by the student and the team. Consideration is given based on the results oriented process that determines the support available upon exiting TRACE and an effort is made to provide a seamless transition to adult life increasing the likelihood the activities will continue beyond public school.

In some cases students will receive support for the entire day with a focus on decreasing the intensity of support over time. As an example students may progress from direct verbal instructions related to a task to intermittent reminders as they become more independent. Some students will schedule support based on their need and comfort level with the identified activities which can vary from day to day. Some student have an independent schedule.

How do students get to their identified activities?

Some students will initially take the yellow (school) bus to an identified location where support will assist them in implementing their schedule.

Other students will meet in the community at the work site, community college, YMCA or other activity based location via the MTS bus or by driving their own car if they have a driver's license.

What about lunch?

Meals are available to all students. Depending upon income eligibility, meals are provided at no cost or $2.75. Additional information may be found at Based on their preference and budget, students can also bring lunch or buy their lunch in the community. Lunch for many of the students provides an opportunity to interact and practice communicating with others in the community. Some students will have an IEP goal to make their lunch in the morning when they arrive, and then periodically purchase lunch as an option on certain days.

What about when it rains?

Schedules are followed rain or shine. Employers expect students to show up for their job sites so it is critical for students to attend even when it rains. While in transit from one activity to another students may be exposed to the elements and are encouraged to dress accordingly.

Are there other specialized services that students can receive?

All specialized services are that are outlined in the students IEP are provided:

Speech and Language

Occupational Therapy

Physical Therapy

Nursing Support

Recreation Therapy

Psychologist support

- Mental Health support

- Behavior support

These services are primarily provided by consultation so they can be integrated across the student's day in specific to the environment that the student is involved in.

What can the support look like for a student with behavioral or mental health?

TRACE recognizes that young adulthood is a time when students may encounter social and emotional challenges that may result in behavioral or mental health difficulties. As a result, a range of psychological services is available to proactively support students and staff to promote positive behavioral and mental health/wellness, as well as to respond to student challenges and needs when they arise. Examples of support may include:

Staff training on positive approaches to behavior

Student-centered social skills, wellness and advocacy meetings

Brief counseling and crisis intervention

Community-based Rehabilitation Specialist services for mental health support

Behavior Support Specialist services

Referrals to both District and outside mental health agencies, when needed.

If a student has unique medical needs can TRACE provide the support?

Over the past 20 years TRACE has provided services and support to promote a healthy, full schedule for students who need:

Medication management

Changing and hygiene needs

Pregnancy and parenting

Unique health needs (diabetes, g-tubes, seizures, tracheotomy)

What is Point Of Transition?

Point of transition is a collaborative effort between the Regional Center (RC) identified adult support agencies that are options for eligible students who are in their final year with TRACE services. Through the development of a contract between the participating agencies and San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) TRACE students are able to participate in the adult support agencies that they will be associated with after the public school experience is complete. During the students final year staff from the adult agencies supports them, while still maintaining the services outlined in the IEP.

Why do we have POT? Does the student still have an IEP in POT and all the services?

The process for identifying and receiving a RC funded agency support is time consuming and in many cases confusing for students and parents. By supporting the students in the adult agency while still in SDUSD the involved parties have time to collect information and actually participate with the agency to determine if it is a good match for everyone involved. If for some reason it is not a good match the district will support the student while everyone attempts to identify a more compatible agency. The student is not put in limbo while another agency is identified and forced to remain home while they await another match. There is no down time after the public school services end and the adult agency is identified. The specialized services that the students receive (SLP, Nurse, PT, OT, Psychologist, Behavior Support Specialist) can train the adult support staff on strategies that are proven to work traditionally while the students are in TRACE.

What is the advantage of POT?

Since the inception of POT we have not had one student who has been forced to sit at home waiting for adult services to begin. The activities and supports are well established so that the transition for the student is seamless from public school to RC adult supports. The adult support agencies support staff have been trained by the staff responsible for providing specialized services to students (Teacher, SLP, Nurse, PT, OT, Psychologist, Para educator).

How do we get into TRACE?

TRACE wants to try to support you no matter your past experiences with public school. If you have a dream we are already half way there.

The majority of our students come from our high schools with a plan for a 5th year outlined in your IEP. If you meet the criteria for TRACE (see Who is TRACE for?) and are not coming from a local high school you can contact the TRACE office at (619) 574-1073 x 2126. We will ask you to register and bring any records you have available to us so we can start the process. Most important we will hook you up with a education specialist with TRACE and start your person centered plan so we can begin to support you in achieving YOUR expected outcomes.

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