What does it mean to become an adult? It is a "lifelong" journey for all of us, but for individuals with disabilities, a transition plan is a required component of an IEP, delineating the skills necessary to be prepared for adulthood. Transition planning provides students and their families a way to educationally establish a process to prepare for that journey into adulthood. The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act of 2004 mandates that the IEP accounts for individual student preferences, interests, strengths, and needs in order to achieve their post school aspirations. For parents, it can be daunting to consider how to best support the futures of their children. Having a well-written transition plan allows students and their families to establish a data-driven approach to future goal attainment.
Legal requirements within IDEA 2004 provisions in §300.320(b) stipulate that a transition plan be in place no later than when that student turns 16, but some states require the initiation of a transition plan to begin earlier. In the state of Illinois, transition plans must be in place by age 14 1/2.
Transition services must include:
Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and
The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the student in reaching those goals.
Breaking the provisions of §300.320(b) into their component parts is a useful way to see what needs to be included, transition-wise, in the student’s IEP transition plan:
Postsecondary goals must be appropriate and measurable
Postsecondary goals must also be based on age-appropriate transition assessment(s)
Transition assessments must consider training, education, employment, and independent living skills.
Therefore, transition services must include:
Courses of study
Transition services identified as necessary
While valuable, understanding the required components is merely the structure of a plan; the content will provide the information that will ensure that a positive future can be achieved. A proactive approach will provide the most valuable asset available to skill development, “TIME”. By starting the conversation early, students and families can be assured of a successful future.