Transition Planning: A Team Effort
The completion of high school is the beginning of adult life. Entitlement to public education ends, and young people and their families are faced with many options and decisions about the future. The most common choices for the future are pursuing vocational training or further academic education, getting a job, and living independently.
For students with disabilities, these choices may be more complex and may require a great deal of planning. Planning the transition from school to adult life begins, at the latest, during high school. In fact, transition planning is required, by law, to start once a student reaches 14 years of age, or younger, if appropriate. This transition planning becomes formalized as part of the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Transition services are intended to prepare students to make the transition from the world of school to the world of adulthood. In planning what type of transition services a student needs to prepare for adulthood, the IEP Team considers areas such as postsecondary education or vocational training, employment, independent living, and community participation. The transition services themselves are a coordinated set of activities that are based on the student's needs and that take into account his or her preferences and interests. Transition services can include instruction, community experiences, the development of employment and other post- school adult living objectives, and (if appropriate) the acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational assessment.
The student and his or her family are expected to take an active role in preparing the student to take responsibility for his or her own life once school is finished. Where once school provided a centralized source of education, guidance, transportation, and even recreation, after students leave school, they will need to organize their own lives and needs and navigate among an array of adult service providers and federal, state, and local programs. This can be a daunting task one for which the student and his or her family need to be prepared.
This Transition Summary provides ideas and information on how students, families, school personnel, service providers, and others can work together to help students make a smooth transition. In particular, this document focuses on creative transition planning and services that use all the resources that exist in communities, not just the agencies that have traditionally been involved. This publication also provides:
- definitions of some terms used in transition planning,
- lists of individuals and agencies that can help the IEP Team create a successful transition plan,
- guides to finding the groups and agencies that provide transition services,
- examples of creative transition plans, and
- ways to improve the transition system by working at the community level.