Practical Perspective: Introduction to WIOA and Pre-ETS


This blog is to share ideas to help support the implementation of WIOA federal regulations and promote employment outcomes for students with disabilities. Attainment Company will be releasing a Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) curriculum in early 2018. The suggestions shared within the Transition Talk posts will be included within that curriculum.


As you begin your school year for 2017-2018, you will hear more about the implementation of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) legislation. This federal law strengthens the partnership between schools and vocational rehabilitation regarding employment training and job placements for students. Many schools are looking for resources to better prepare students for the world of work starting in middle school through transition. Attainment Company is developing a curriculum to specifically meet the five required Pre-Employment Transition Services per WIOA . In this monthly blog, I will share information about WIOA and classroom activities that will meet these federal requirements.


How does WIOA impact students in special education and how can I prepare for this school year regarding WIOA and Pre-Employment Transition Services?


Here is information about WIOA and Pre-ETS:

There are five required activities and nine authorized activities per this legislation.

The partnership between schools and the state vocational rehabilitation agencies has existed since the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990.  Transition to employment for students with disabilities has been a priority for many years, but the WIOA legislation requires the vocational rehabilitation agency to be a stronger transition partner with schools, providing additional services and supports to increase employment outcomes for students with disabilities and expands those services for younger school-age students.  The vocational rehabilitation state agency is required to spend 15% of their annual budget on Pre-ETS.

The WIOA and Pre-ETS impact all students who have an IEP and a 504 plan, and can also include students who are “potentially eligible” for vocational rehabilitation services. The expectation is to have your students develop work-related skills to gain employment part-time or full-time at minimum wage or higher with wages and benefits like those without disabilities performing the same work, and to be fully integrated with coworkers without disabilities.

Sections 397.20 and 397.30 require that the vocational rehabilitation agency, in collaboration with schools or local educational authorities, provide a specified set of transition services to students with disabilities ages 14-21. This law deepens the connection to have your students receive services from your state vocational rehabilitation agency under what is now called Pre-Employment Transition Services.


Here is the list of activities as defined by WIOA:

Pre-ETS required activities:

1. Job exploration counseling

2. Work-based learning experiences (which may include in-school or after-school opportunities and experiences outside the traditional school setting, including internships in an integrated environment)

3. Counseling on opportunities in comprehensive transition or enrollment in post-secondary education and training programs

4. Workplace readiness training to develop social and independent living skills

5. Instruction in self-advocacy, which can include peer mentoring


Authorized activities when funds are available:

1. Implementing effective strategies to increase the likelihood of independent living and inclusion in communities and competitive integrated workplaces

2. Developing and improving strategies for individuals with intellectual disability and individuals with significant disabilities to live independently, participate in post-secondary education experiences, and obtain and retain competitive integrated employment

3. Providing instruction to vocational rehabilitation counselors, school transition personnel, and other persons supporting students with disabilities

4. Disseminating information about innovative, effective, and efficient approaches to achieve the goals of this section

5. Coordinating activities with transition services provided by local educational agencies under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.)

6. Applying evidence-based findings to improve policy, procedure, practice, and the preparation of personnel, in order to better achieve the goals of this section

7. Developing model transition demonstration projects

8. Establishing or supporting multi-state or regional partnerships involving states, local educational agencies, designated state units, developmental disability agencies, private businesses, or other participants to achieve the goals of this section

9. Disseminating information and strategies to improve the transition to post-secondary activities of individuals who are members of traditionally unserved populations


In the next blog, I will provide examples of activities that can be completed with students within each of the five required Pre-ETS activities. For more information, specific to Pre-ETS, here is a link to United States Department of Education (DOE), Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA), and Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS):


One thought on “Practical Perspective: Introduction to WIOA and Pre-ETS”

  • Sandra Jordan June 30, 2018 at 1:06 pm

    Hello there.

    I have high hopes for after-school groups that will engage in cognitive behavioral and rational emotive type activities and guided discussion to encourage self-awareness, self-advocacy, and communication skills. After working with adolescents, predominantly LD/ADHD "grey area" disabilities, I've learned that peer interaction activities is a rather untapped resource and wish to see more focus on this. I also have had great experience with providing core training to parents/guardians and students, together. Too often, they are served separately, but opportunities for guided discussion with both present, outside of the formality of CSE and IEP meetings, create space for communication and thought provoking discussion that has not occurred between them without third party encouragement. I am very excited about WIOA and its potential for a holistic approach to students and maximizing their abilities and health.

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