Transition services are intended to be a coordinated set of activities, provided to the student by the school and sometimes other agencies, to promote successful movement from high school to adult life. The transition process prepares students for adult life by focusing on the areas of post-secondary education, employment, community participation, and independent living skills. IDEA 2004 adds a new requirement that transition services be based on the student’s strengths, as well as their preferences and interests. The addition of “strengths” makes it clear that the development of transition goals should focus on and build upon what the student can do — not focus entirely on what the student can’t do.
When Does Transition Planning Begin?
IDEA 04 has established one clear starting age requirement for the start of transition planning. IEP Teams must now include transition planning in the first IEP that will be in effect when the child turns 16 years of age.
What Does Transition Planning Include?
IDEA 04 dramatically expands the requirements for transition planning from merely a statement of needed transition services to:
• Development of appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; These goals should reflect the student’s strengths, preferences, and interests. In determining such goals, the IEP team (including the student) must determine what instruction and educational experiences will help prepare the student for a successful transition from secondary education to post-secondary life. Age-appropriate transition assessments might include such things as interest inventories and other assessment tools that can help identify an individual’s special talents.
• Development of a statement of the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the student in reaching those goals. The statement of transition services should relate directly to the student’s postsecondary goals.
Who Participates in the Transition Planning Process?
Transition services are an integral part of a student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), beginning with the first IEP in effect when the student turns 16. As such, determining transition services is a task for all IEP team members, including the student, teachers, and parents. Genuine student and parent participation — active involvement in and contribution to the planning process — is critical to achieving good transition results.