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IDEA 2004 Close Up: Transition Planning

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By Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute

What Does Transition Planning Include?

IDEA 04 dramatically expands the requirements for transition planning from merely a statement of needed transition services to:

  • Development of appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills;

    These goals should reflect the student's strengths, preferences, and interests. In determining such goals, the IEP team (including the student) must determine what instruction and educational experiences will help prepare the student for a successful transition from secondary education to post-secondary life.

    Age-appropriate transition assessments might include such things as interest inventories and other assessment tools that can help identify an individual's special talents.

  • Development of a statement of the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the student in reaching those goals.

    The statement of transition services should relate directly to the student's postsecondary goals.

    The activities contained in the transition services should:

    • Define every activity that must occur,
    • Identify who has primary responsibility for each activity, and
    • Specify the dates that each activity will begin and end.

    A student's courses of study should be meaningful to the student's future plans and motivate the student to complete his or her education. Given the unacceptably high drop out rate among students with disabilities - 39 percent of students with learning disabilities drop out of school3 - it is critical that courses of study engage student interest and work to minimize the risk for dropping out prior to graduation.

IDEA 2004 retains the requirement to notify the student, at least one year in advance, of rights that will transfer to the student upon reaching the age of majority. Reaching the age of majority is an important juncture in a student's life, and parents should fully understand some of the options available to them at this point. In most states, the age of majority is 18, but there are exceptions.

Candace Cortiella's work as Director of the nonprofit The Advocacy Institute focuses on improving the lives of people with learning disabilities, through public policy and other initiatives. The mother of a young adult with learning disabilities, she lives in the Washington, D.C., area.