Ed O’Leary Biography


Dr. Ed O’Leary has spent more than 40 years working in and with schools as a secondary special education teacher, special education consultant, transition specialist, work experience coordinator, program specialist, and program director. He is a nationally recognized expert in the area of transition and Indicator 13 and has been an invited speaker at numerous state and national conferences and trainer with hundreds of local districts.

Dr. O’Leary has taught at the graduate and undergraduate level and has worked in vocational rehabilitation. He has trained and presented nationally to thousands of educators on the transition requirements under IDEA 97 and IDEA 2004 and has developed a data-based decision-making model to help districts and states meet the transition and Indicator 13 requirements and demonstrate improvement and results.

The Transition Outcomes Project (TOPs) has been implemented in 28 states/territories and over 1,500 districts.  This professional development model includes direct training, self-assessment, use of real-time web-based data analysis, action planning, and evaluation of progress and improvement.  The real-time web-based data system coupled with the TOPs project currently houses IEP Indicator 13 data on over 44,500 individual student file reviews.  States/districts that have been implementing TOPs have demonstrated, through trend data, improvements in meeting the Indicator 13 and transition requirements.

Dr. O’Leary has also been involved with professional and parent organizations and has held leadership positions in the Iowa Governor’s Planning Council on Developmental Disabilities (past chair and member), the Council for Exceptional Education (state president, governor, and served on national committees), the Iowa Association of Vocational Education Special Needs Personnel, the Iowa Division of Career Development, and ARC/Iowa. He has received awards of distinction from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration on Developmental Disabilities, Heartland Area Education Agency for leadership, exemplary professional practice, and service delivery to students, parents, and professionals, and was recipient of the Oliver P. Kolstoe Award from the National Division on Career Development and Transition, Council for Exceptional Children.

In addition to ongoing professional development training on transition and the Transition Outcomes Project, Dr. O’Leary is currently working on a comprehensive web-based professional development model that brings together post-school outcome data (Indicator 14), transition requirement data (Indicator 13), and self-assessment data on the national evidence-based predictors of post-school success. This model brings that information together in an easily understandable format so educators understand the relationship of the different data, recognize their current practices, and use that information to develop a comprehensive plan to address systemic and targeted changes that will demonstrate improved post-school results for students with disabilities.

Dr. O’Leary operates his own consulting firm, Cutting EdJ Consulting, Inc. In that capacity he provides training and technical assistance, as well as speaking about secondary special education and transition service issues to educators, adult agencies, and parents across the United States.

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