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STEP-UP: How It Works

Through the STEP-UP partnership, students have training experiences with USGS to gain valuable job skills to support their goals of seeking employment and living independently.

Photo of two STEP-UP students with OSQI Director Craig Robinson
Two STEP-UP students (Naoki and Joseph) with OSQI Director Craig Robinson at STEP-UP Appreciation Celebration at Moffett in May 2019

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004, school districts (and other educational institutions) provide school-to-work transition programs to students with disabilities. In such programs, teachers and parents work with their students to create Individual Education Programs (IEPs), tailored to the students’ goals. Many students have elected to include vocational training as part of their IEPs, and they earn school credit for those work-setting experiences.

To meet the students’ goals, the school districts partner with local public- and private-sector organizations to identify training opportunities where students can gain both “hard” job skills and “soft” interpersonal skills needed to navigate in a professional environment. The USGS is one of those partner organizations.

Depending on the school district’s program, STEP-UP students may participate on projects for up to 4 hours a day and up to 5 days a week. While USGS supervisors direct the projects, onsite teachers or job coaches closely support the students’ daily activities. Although students are located at a limited number of sites, they may work on projects for science centers across the nation when data can be sent to them or accessed remotely.