Transition planning is a required part of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that helps students with learning disabilities prepare for what they will do after high school. Transition planning begins with the IEP team meeting, during which the student’s vocational interests are explored and transition goals are put in place. Once transition goals are established, the IEP team focuses on what supports the student will need to meet those goals.

Does everyone need a transition plan?

Transition services vary from student to student based on the goals selected and the student’s needs. For example, transition services can include items like specialized instruction and information about community organizations that have opportunities for:

  • volunteer work
  • employment opportunities
  • training, college and career counseling
  • daily living skills
  • functional vocational evaluations

This process can seem difficult, but with the right information, it can be made much more manageable. It’s also an essential part of the IEP process in that it can set the student up for a better chance for success after leaving high school. Educators and parents shouldn’t feel like they need to tackle transition planning alone. Fortunately, there are multiple regional, state and national organizations that can assist with the process.

One form of assistance, Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), provides vocational skills or other job training, as well as potential accommodations, for students. This includes technological devices that support students in meeting their post-school objectives.

Independent living centers (ILCs) can be another form of assistance. These centers are usually non-residential, community organizations that advocate for complete access to housing, transportation, leisure and employment.

IEP and Transition Services

The Social Security Administration (SSA) might be part of the student’s transition plan. It is crucial that all members of the IEP team understand the rules and limitations that are involved when discussing Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). For example, rules are in place that dictates how many hours a person can work if receiving SSI, Medicaid or Medicare.

Many states and counties might have additional services available to students and families. For more information on these, contact your state’s Parent Training and Information Center (PTI) or your regional education service center.

As educators, we must remember that eventually, elementary school children become adults. With advance planning, more opportunities can be made available for individual students to obtain the supports and resources needed to be successful.

Planning for post-school outcomes is a partnership between the school, the community, the family and the student to create a strong support system for the student as he or she grows and develops aspirations for life as a productive member of the community.

Transition Planning Made Easy

Unique Learning System provides many opportunities to prepare students with the necessary skills to make a smooth transition from school to adult life.

  • Monthly transition activities are included in all of Unique Learning System grade bands. These activities incorporate reviews of community outreach activities, jobs, independence and interest levels.
  • Core Rubrics address the transition readiness skill areas of employability, communication, self-advocacy, daily living and social strategies. They can be used to identify areas of strength and weakness that are appropriate to the student’s current age.
  • Transition Planning helps educators guide students down the path toward independence with future planning that meets real-world expectations for employment, daily living needs and community awareness for middle school, high school and transition-aged students.
  • Transition Passport creates a personal collection of abilities, goals, needs and desires that are essential for young adults to move into an effective system of transition planning. The binder is intended to travel with the student from middle school through the transition grade band and exit their educational program with them.
  • Transition grade band creates a realistic atmosphere of skill learning that will be needed when leaving the school setting, entering the work setting and living with optimal independence. The topics address three areas of instruction that are embedded in the day’s routine on selected areas of skills, jobs and daily living.
transition planning and post school living for special education

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About the Author
Oran Tkatchov is a former secondary school teacher, charter school director, and state-level director of professional development in the areas of special education and school improvement. He currently supports professional learning at the Arizona Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. He earned a Master’s of Education from Northern Arizona University.