The first listed purpose for the Federal law known as The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is “to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.”
This toolkit has been created to assist school staff and students with disabilities and their families in their efforts to prepare students with disabilities for entry into a successful adult life after high school. The work to prepare students for a successful adult life that is done by school staff, students, family members, agency staff, and others is referred to as “transition planning” and “transition services” since students are transitioning from school to adult life.
One of the key elements of successful transition planning is the collaboration that is needed among all the individuals and entities who are involved in preparing the student to be a successful adult. Lack of collaboration in the transition planning/Individualized Education Program (IEP) process can be a significant contributing factor in students not experiencing positive post-school outcomes. Every member of the IEP team including the student and parents/guardians, school and other agency staff, and others should work together in a collaborative manner so that; 1) students and their parents/guardians will have and feel ownership of the IEP, 2) each member if the IEP team will take responsibility for implementing specific transition services (activities and strategies) included in the transition component of the IEP, 3) the supports and services needed by the student will be both available and received by the student when needed, and 4) the student has the best chance to experience success upon exiting high school.
Another key component of successful transition planning is that it is a long-term, multi-year planning process. When students and their IEP team first become engaged in the transition planning process according to
New Jersey regulations (N.J.A.C. 6A:14-3.7(e)11), the student is typically 13 years old or younger, and therefore many years away from finishing high school. These regulations provide for the many years of planning and service delivery that are typically needed to help students with disabilities choose and prepare for a desired future. Even though IEPs must be reviewed and updated at least once every year, the thinking and planning for the student’s future requires IEP teams to take a multi-year approach when developing IEPs that include transition planning. IEP team decisions such as the student’s courses and other educational programming and services can and often do have consequences that impact the student’s future opportunities. For example, if a student plans to attend a four-year college after graduating high school, then the student’s courses all throughout high school would need to include the “college prep” and other courses that four-year colleges typically require their entering students to have taken. Thinking about and appropriately planning for desired post-school outcomes is at the core of effective transition planning.
This toolkit contains many resources that can be used to promote positive post-school outcomes for students with disabilities, including:
Hopefully you will find the answers to your questions and the help that you need with securing for students successful transitions to adult life. Should you need further assistance with any transition related matter, please contact:
Office of Special Education
Phone: 609 376-3734