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IEP and Transition

Transition services must be included in the first Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) that will be in effect when a student turns 16. So, this generally means that you should begin to include transition services in the IEP that is prepared when your child is 15. However, IDEA 2004 also makes it clear that IEP teams are free to begin planning at an earlier age if the team considers it appropriate to do so. Many students with learning disabilities need to start their transition planning in middle school because they may need to take specific classes or courses of study to keep them on a path to achieve their postsecondary goals. As full and equal partners in the IEP team, you should advocate for transition planning for your child at an early age and ensure that services in the IEP directly support post-secondary goals.

The IEP team must develop appropriate, measurable post-secondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills. According to IDEA 2004, a youth’s Measurable Post-Secondary Goal(s) must be based on age appropriate assessments and take into account their strengths, preferences and interests. There are age-appropriate transition assessments such as personal interest inventories that could be given to your child to help identify his or her individual special talents and interests.

In developing your child's transition goals, the IEP team (including your child) must determine what instruction and educational experiences will help prepare him or her for a successful transition to life after high school. Once the goals are developed, the IEP team must then develop a statement of the transition services, including courses of study, needed to assist your child in reaching those goals.

IDEA requires states to provide special education services to eligible students until they either graduate with a regular diploma or exceed the age limit established in IDEA. Students receiving diplomas other than a regular diploma are entitled to continue to receive services under IDEA until exceeding the age limit. The IEP team decides when it is appropriate for a student to exit special education.

The statement of transition services should relate directly to your child's post-secondary goals, and should:

  • Define every activity that must occur
  • Identify who has primary responsibility for each activity
  • Specify the dates and order that each activity will begin and end
  • Motivate your child to complete his or her education and minimize the risk of dropping out prior to graduation.