Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education/Leadership in Urban Schools

First Advisor

Wenfan Yan

Second Advisor

Zeena Zahkaria

Third Advisor

Jack Leonard


The position of secondary Special Education Transition Specialist has evolved into a pivotal role in the transition planning process for students with disabilities. Through state level legislative efforts, licensed Special Educators and select others are able earn a Transition Specialist Endorsement through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Yet, there is no requirement that school districts in Massachusetts have a person on staff who solely acts as a Transition Specialist or employ a person who holds a Transition Specialist Endorsement. Further, little is known about those across the Commonwealth working in this unique capacity. Using a self-administered questionnaire, this quantitative and comparative statewide study examined secondary Special Education Transition Specialists in three settings: public secondary schools, Special Education Collaboratives, and Chapter 766 approved secondary schools. Specifically it looked at their, educational and employment histories as well as their entrepreneurial skills, perceived level of self-efficacy, and aptitude for social networking. As well as provided information about the skills of those who hold a Transition Specialist Endorsement versus those who do not. Findings from this study revealed that nearly all of those working as secondary Transition Specialists are Caucasian females. Over half earned a master’s degree and a majority were educated in Massachusetts. Further, just under half changed careers to become a Transition Specialist, primarily coming from education, counseling, and health science backgrounds. In addition, findings showed that less than one quarter of those working as secondary Special Education Transition Specialists have a Transition Specialist Endorsement and further, less than half are employed solely as a Transition Specialist in their setting. Through analysis it was also found that those who are endorsed as Transition Specialists reported higher levels of entrepreneurial leadership skill, perceived self-efficacy, and aptitude for social networking. Findings of this study can be used to inform the hiring process at the secondary level, drive higher education Transition Leadership Programs recruitment efforts, and lead to further inquiry around those working as secondary Special Education Transition Specialists in Massachusetts and beyond.