Transition is planning for one’s future after high school while
still in high school. The transition from school to work, or from secondary
to post-secondary education is often a difficult one for young people,
particularly those with disabilities. As parents, we help our children
through many changes while they are growing up. We strive to provide the
skills they will need for independence after high school. While it is
critical to provide information and resources to all students about their
future, it is especially true of students with disabilities. Planning
for their future after high school may take coordination between many
people and agencies, and like all events, the key to success is early
planning – while in high school.
The movement of both transition and school to work efforts has encouraged
students to become familiar with occupational choices, vocational preparation
and career planning at an earlier age to ensure maximum opportunity of
curricular choices and involvement of secondary school resources. A smooth
transition is possible with planning, communication, and information.
Planning what will be needed and who can help provide that assistance
is of utmost importance to successful networking. Information about the
many choices and programs available also requires early planning and decision
making. The integration of age appropriate transition assessment results
into the planning process enables the student and the Transition IEP team
to understand the student’s skill levels for many areas. When there
is this coordinated effort between the school, student, family, and appropriate
post-school agencies, there is enhanced opportunity for the student to
achieve his/her post-secondary goals.
Self-advocacy, or speaking up for one’s self is also an opportunity
and a responsibility for young adults. Participating in the decision making
process of the transition IEP meeting, seeking employment or planning
your college future requires knowledge of your disability, your strengths,
your interests, and your needs. Making decisions is never easy, but being
adequately prepared to do so will enhance your independence.
The Federal Law regulating education of students with disabilities, the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004),
identifies transition as:
A coordinated set of activities for a student,
designed to be within
a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic
and functional achievement of the student to facilitate the students
movement from school to post-school activities including post-secondary
vocational education, integrated employment including supported employment,
continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living
The coordinated set of activities shall be
based upon the individual student’s needs, taking into account the
preferences, and interests and shall include instruction, related
services, community experiences, the development of employment and other
adult living objectives, and when appropriate, acquisition of daily
living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
Transition makes education relevant to the student and is driven by the
The Transition IEP represents and supports the vision of the student
and the student’s family.
Transition drives the IEP process to prepare
the student for the changes and demands of life after high school.
Transition is an ongoing and results-oriented process including commitment
of resources, collaboration between people and agencies,
to develop an IEP for the student.
Transition allows the entire
community, especially the family, school, and adult service agencies
to share responsibility in the
Transition planning promotes relevant, ongoing results-oriented
instructional experiences within the least restrictive
environment, including community-based
Keys to successful Transition:
Early planning and involvement;
Continuous assessment process as to strengths,
interests, needs, and goals
Student participation in IEP meetings
Knowledge of self and disability
Academic infusion into the community
Networking with agency and community
Creativity about planning.
As any student prepares to leave high school and move on new roles and
responsibilities as an adult, there are many areas to consider:
Independent Living: Where will the student live and with whom? Can
he/she live on their own and be responsible to cook, shop, clean,
pay bills, manage time, take care of themselves?
Can the student shop, vote, use the library, make health appointments
and utilize their local community to be self
sufficient? How will the student get around in the community? Does
the student know how to access volunteer, community and church
Jobs and Job Training: Does the student have the skills to apply
for a job and to work with others? What type of supports, if any is
available to provide assistance?
Recreation & Leisure: How does the
student spend time alone and in groups? What does the student do
for physical fitness and relaxation?
Post secondary & Lifelong learning:
Beyond high school, what will the student do to continue to learn
and grow in post-secondary education
and personal enjoyment? What supports will be necessary?
When does Transition begin?
The Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004)
states that “beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect
when the child is 16, and updated annually, the student’s Individualized
Educational Program (IEP) must contain:
appropriate measurable postsecondary
goals based on age appropriate transition assessments related
to training, education, employment and
where appropriate, independent living skills; and
the transition services
(courses of study and a coordinated set of activities) needed
to assist the student in reaching those postsecondary
In addition, beginning not later than one year before the student reaches
the age of majority (in ND that is 18) the IEP team must discuss the transfer
of educational rights from parent to student.