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The Vocational Individualized Training and Learning (VITAL) program assists high school special education students who have completed all of their high school academic requirements transition from high school to a vocational/technical program at Kirkwood. While students are enrolled in VITAL, they officially remain secondary students, but take regular Kirkwood courses in their vocational program.

VITAL staff provides individualized accommodations, instruction/tutoring, and counseling. Referred students must be enrolled in a high school special education program, have vocational training goals and objectives in his/her current IEP, and have completed all academic requirements, but still have unmet vocational training goals.

The VITAL program should be discussed as an option for special education students who desire post-secondary vocational training. By the first semester of the senior year, those students who demonstrate the qualities to succeed in the VITAL program should be referred by the local school district's IEP team.

VITAL students may select one of the Career Programs or Certificates from this list.


Application and Enrollment Process

  1. The local school's IEP team refers the student to the VITAL program. Once the referral is recieved, VITAL sends the student and teacher an information packet.
  2. The student applies for admission to Kirkwood.
  3. The student completes the VITAL application (contact your high school special education teacher for the VITAL username and password).
  4. The student takes the COMPASS or ACT placement test.
  5. The student is interviewed by a Kirkwood instructor from the selected program (not all programs require this interview).
  6. The student is interviewed by the VITAL staff.
  7. To participate in VITAL, Kirkwood Community College must first accept the student into the specific vocational program.
  8. For those students accepted into VITAL, the local school hosts a staff meeting each May, which includes the IEP team, a VITAL staff member, the student, and at least one parent or guardian. A new IEP is developed detailing the vocational training goals.

Successful VITAL students demonstrate the following characteristics:

  1. Realistic vocational choice and a likelihood of success
  2. Positive attitude, motivation and commitment to success
  3. Independence, yet willingness to ask for help when needed
  4. Social and vocational maturity
  5. Acceptable high school attendance and grades
  6. Completion of all high school academic requirements
  7. Experience in or exposure to chosen vocational area
  8. Recommendations from the IEP team

Students also learn to use campus and community services, to develop self-reliance and to become successful college students.