What is the transition planning process for students with disabilities?
Page 1: An Overview of Secondary Transition
Students with disabilities experience many changes throughout their educational lives (e.g., elementary to middle school, middle school to high school, teacher changes). Two of these transitions require specific planning under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA ’04):
- One transition covers the move from early intervention services to early childhood special education or other programs. These required services are included in the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
- Another transition helps students move from high school to adult life. This transition plan—which is part of the student’s individualized education program (IEP)—must be initiated by the student’s sixteenth birthday. Transition planning can begin at an earlier age if IEP team members feel it is important.
Although Sandra is just 14, Mr. Hunter believes that this would be a good time to prepare for her transition to post-secondary settings. The transition process will help Sandra to identify her goals and set up the services she needs to achieve those goals (i.e., education/ training, employment, and independent living). Transition entails a coordinated set of activities carried out by school personnel, the student and his or her family, and, when appropriate, related service providers and community agencies. Also required is a plan, based on the student’s individual needs, that specifies the progression of services that will help the student make a seamless transition from school to post-school activities.
Listen to Ginger Blalock as she explains the consequences for many students with disabilities who lacked access to transition planning (time: 1:01).
Ginger Blalock, PhD
Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Transition planning is important because it can help avoid the poor post-school outcomes experienced by many students with disabilities. These include:
- High dropout rates
- Underrepresentation at colleges and universities
- High likelihood of being unemployed
- Low-paying jobs
- Inability to live independently
School professionals should emphasize transition planning to improve outcomes for students with disabilities once they leave high school. Though the school counselor has a significant role in transition planning, it is ultimately a team effort. This results in a long-range individualized plan to address academic, career, and life goals, and utilizes strategies to support students’ goal attainment. The table below provides an overview of transition services.
|An Overview of Transition Services
|Who receives transition services?
|When should transition services begin?
|What transition service areas must be considered when developing the transition plan?
|Why are transition services important?
|How are transition services provided?