Lawrence Center Rm. 222
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Professor Bruce Norris, Faculty Academic Advisor
*To set up an appointment for in-person program information,
change of major or your semester appointment, contact Professor Norris'
administrative support at 610-436-3505, or use the following link for online appointment scheduling:
Inclusive Post-Secondary Education for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities at West Chester University of PA
The RAM initiative is a new program at West Chester University, bringing students with intellectual disabilities, ages 18-24, to campus in very small numbers (initially 1-2 per year, capping at 6-10 after 5 years), to participate in a two year inclusive post-secondary education experience. The RAM initiative is ‘inclusive’ in that RAM students would learn, live, and interact with all students, faculty, staff and administrators on campus, not in segregated environments. The students would take classes on an Audit basis and have a non-traditional application/admissions process. These students would be full time students, have full privileges of the university, and would be eligible for Pell Grants and Federal Financial Work Study programs (if financially eligible).
Who: Students with intellectual disabilities are those who have significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behaviors which covers many everyday social and practical skills” (AAIDD, 2017). These students would come to the college experience without a traditional academic diploma, nor standardized test scores. We will focus on students whose ages are between 18 and 24 as of the first day of the Fall semester of classes that they begin the program. These students will also have completed at least 4 years of high school. These students would have been in special education and have had an Individualized Education Program during their school years. These students will not be in high school based transition programs during their time at WCU, they will have completed these program or opt out.
10/21/2019: As the two-year, grant-funded pilot program concludes, the University is very excited about the successes that all three Ram Initiative students have achieved. As is the case with the conclusion of any pilot program, the University is currently evaluating the test-pilot’s strengths and its financial viability to be sustained. The University is in no way ending the program. Rather, it is putting a hold on new Ram Initiative admissions until it can determine how to secure a total of $100,000 each year to run the program for three students. The University would very much like to move the test pilot to an official program, but must find a way to bridge the financial gap between grant funding that has been allotted to run the program and the program’s actual costs.
RAM Initiative Background
When: In Fall 2018, bring in one-two pilot students (commuter) who would go through the program on a trial basis to help to tweak the process. In Fall of 2019, the hope is to bring in 2-3 students to start the 2 year program (commuter or residential).
Why: Individuals with intellectual disabilities have better employment outcomes when
they attend post-secondary educational experiences.
Inclusive opportunities with similar age peers provides a positive quality of life experience and ‘finding’ yourself, just like all other students coming to college.
Independent living skills are practiced in real life settings.
Vision: Provide inclusive post-secondary education to students with intellectual disabilities, who meet certain criteria, in order to develop citizens who are independent and economically self-sufficient and to meet the goals of the Americans with Disabilities Act of equal opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency.
Why should WCU do this:The university has a history of supporting marginalized and underrepresented groups. As stated in our university mission we are a vibrant community that values its members and we can offer a campus climate of acceptance. WCU is the flagship institution of the PA State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). This pattern of excellence will continue and be applied to the recruitment, training, and retention of high quality peer mentors for students who participate in RAM Initiative. We have vibrant professional preparation programs in special education, social work, psychology, communication disorders, and adapted physical activity, whose students regularly participate in community-based engagement programs with students who have intellectual disabilities. We will draw upon the high quality peer mentors, faculty, and staff to support our program.
WCU RAM Initiative Committee: