Transition Planning (Career and Transition Services)

Planning for the transition from school to post-school options is a critical part of a students’ Individual Education Program (IEP) process in the middle and high school years.

Transition planning is ongoing, outcome-oriented, and based on collaboration between students with disabilities, their families, school and adult service personnel, and the community.

Transition planning is a critical component of each student’s IEP. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) requires the following:

Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP 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 child in reaching those goals. [Section 614(d)(1)(A)(VIII)]

Virginia requires transition planning begin for a student by age 14, or grade 8, whichever comes first.

What are Transition Services?

The IDEA 2004 defines transition services as follows:
A coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that—

  • Is designed to be within a results-oriented that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
  • Is based upon the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences and interests;
  • Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. [Part A, Section 602(34)].
  • Basically these services help students prepare for goals after graduation, including:
  • Post-secondary education.
  • Vocational training.
  • Independent employment.
  • Supported employment.
  • Continuing and adult education.
  • Adult services.
  • Independent living.
  • Community participation.
  • Transition services are based on student’s needs, preferences, and interests and include:
    • Instruction.
    • Related services.
    • Community experiences.
    • Employment and adult living objectives.
    • Daily living skills.
    • Functional vocational evaluation when appropriate.

What are the Transition Plans of the IEP?

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) requires that each student’s IEP include a transition plan beginning in grade 8 or at age 14, whichever comes first. The transition plan identifies students’ postsecondary goals and outlines the steps necessary to achieve them. Students’ transition needs, as outlined in the transition plan, drive the content of the IEP so that, by graduation, students are equipped with the skills necessary to meet the opportunities and challenges of life after high school.

The transition planning section of the IEP can be found on the second and third page of the IEP, once transition services are being considered. The Transition Goals page (IEP-303) includes:

  • Transition assessment information on the students’ interests, preferences, strengths and weaknesses.
  • Measurable postsecondary goals in the areas of education, training, employment, and independent living when appropriate.
  • Transition objectives in the areas of career, self-advocacy, and independent living skills.

As a student gets closer to graduation the Transition Services page (IEP-304) lists school and post-school transition services to consider during the IEP meeting. This could include links to adult agencies such as:

What are Age of Majority Rights?

Part of a student’s transition is taking on adult responsibilities once they reach the age of majority, which in Virginia is age 18. Beginning at least one year before a student’s 18th birthday, they must be told that they will make IEP decisions once they turn 18.

At age 18, parents or guardians no longer make IEP decisions unless the student is unable to make decision on their own. Parents are still invited to IEP meetings.

Who Participates in Transition Planning?

The student is the most important member of the IEP team. Other members include:

  • Family members including parent or guardian.
  • School principal or designee.
  • Student’s case manager and other relevant special education teachers.
  • Other school staff, such as employment and transition representative (ETR), school counselor, psychologist, general education teacher (as appropriate).
  • Adult service agency representatives (as appropriate).

Transition Documents