Life is never stagnant — we are all transitioning at one time or another. For the special needs child, however, “transition” has a very specific meaning. It is part of the overall Individualized Education Program, or IEP, and it defines the move from public school to adult life. The IEP transition plan, as it is called, is required by law for students with a learning disability.
What Is Transition Planning?
The law that governs the individualized transition plan is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is in alignment with the No Child Left Behind Act. As stated in the IDEA, transition services are to be available as part of the IEP. This includes assessments of the child by a team, resulting in goal-setting in the following areas:
- Independent living skills if necessary.
Schools must offer transition services leading to fulfillment of these goals, which must be set by the time the child reaches age 16. That means transition planning really starts before the child turns 16. In some states, the IEP transition plan is required by an even earlier age. Texas, for example, requires a transition plan by the age of 14.
The needs of the student, the relevant goals, and the plan of action for his or her school to fulfill those goals must all be documented and kept on file at the school. Schools must report to parents on the progress of the student towards meeting those transition goals.
Why Transition Planning Is Important
All students need guidance in order to make the leap from high school to the next step. Students with learning disabilities, however, need even more help because their leap is that much greater. The IEP transition plan ensures not only that these children will be able to function as adults in the real world but to also increase the likelihood they will pursue post-secondary education. As it stands now, those rates are dismal: only 13 percent of students with learning disabilities make it to post-secondary education, as compared to 53 percent of the general population.
In other words, the IEP transition plan goes beyond simply finding a place for LD students after high school. It provides a personalized course of action based on students’ strengths, desires and dreams for a fulfilling life.
Learn about the Lamar University online M.Ed. in Special Education program.