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Chapter 8: Transition — Planning Your Child's Future Success

Children With Needs - Transition High School

Who is this for?

This chapter is for middle school and high school students and their parents. It provides important information for all students with disabilities who are age 16 or older.

Why is this important?

Transition planning is crucial to students' success after high school. Many new IDEA 2004 provisions seek to improve transition planning so that students with disabilities can be more successful in their adult lives.

What can parents do?

Parents can take an active role by working with the school to plan the supports and services that will lead to success. Parents can also help their children to define goals and aspirations for life after high school. Both parents and students need to make sure that transition planning starts early enough for adequate preparation.

IDEA Words and Terms to Know

  • Functional skills

    As used in this chapter, functional skills are those needed for independent living, such as cooking, shopping, working with or managing money, using public transportation, and knowing how to be safe at home and in the community.
  • Postsecondary education

    Formal education or training beyond high school, including college, university, vocational school and trade school.
  • Courses of study

    Middle and high school course work (or classes) that lead to a certain type of diploma and/or are required for post-secondary education.
  • Transition services

    A coordinated set of activities that:
    • Improves the academic and functional skills of the student in order to facilitate the student's movement from school to post-school activities such as post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation;
    • Is based on the individual student's needs, taking into account his or her strengths, preferences, and interests; and
    • Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives and, when
    • appropriate, the acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
  • Summary of performance

    A summary of the student's academic achievement and functional performance that includes recommendations to assist the student in meeting his or her postsecondary goals (details later in this chapter).
  • Vocational Rehabilitation Agency

    A publicly funded state agency that provides direct and indirect services to youth with disabilities as they transition from school to work, in order to maximize their employability, independence and integration into the workplace and the community.
  • Vocational rehabilitation (VR)

    A set of services offered to individuals with disabilities designed to enable participants to attain skills, resources, attitudes, and expectations needed to compete in the interview process, get a job, and keep a job.


In Chapter 7: Individualized Education Programs
, you learned about partnering with school staff to plan your child's educational program. This chapter discusses the transition services that are a required part of every student’s IEP upon reaching the age of 16.

green_exclamation[New] Transition services must be included in the first IEP that will be in effect when a student turns 16. So, this generally means that you should begin to include transition services in the IEP that is prepared when your child is 15. However, IDEA 2004 also makes it clear that IEP teams are free to begin planning at an earlier age if the team considers it appropriate to do so. Many students with learning disabilities need to start their transition planning in middle school because they may need to take specific classes or courses of study to keep them on a path to achieve their postsecondary goals. As full and equal partners in the IEP team, you should advocate for transition planning for your child at an early age and ensure that services in the IEP directly support postsecondary goals. Check to see when your state policies recommend starting transition planning.

Tags: grade9-12

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