Transition plans are a vital part of an IEP document for any student over the age of sixteen. In California, the state law requires that no later than age sixteen, a student’s IEP must include appropriate, measurable post-secondary goals and transition services needed to assist your child in reaching those goals. [Cal.Ed.Code §56345(8)(a)].
The goal of a transition plan and the services contained in the plan is to enable the child to move from school to post-school activities including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment, continuing and adult education, independent living or community participation. To accomplish this goal, there must be a coordinated set of activities designed and focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the student as required to meet the goals established in the transition plan.
The transition plan must be based on the student’s needs, taking into account the students’ strengths, preferences and interests. The services to be provided may include such things as instruction, related services, community experiences, and the acquisition of daily living skills. The transition planning process may need to include appropriate assessments and must include development of appropriate goals and objectives. It must also contain a specifically designed and coordinated set of activities.
Many transition plans currently being developed are little more than boilerplate, with few (if any) appropriate goals and objectives or activities geared toward the particular student’s needs. By age sixteen, parents and students need to be prepared to spend as much time on the transition planning process and the goals developed for the transition plan as they do on the underlying IEP. If the local educational agency or charter school refuses or fails to develop an appropriate transition plan, the student and his or her parents have the same right to file for due process as with any other portion of the IEP with which they disagree.
Transition plans and services are intended to be meaningful, concrete and helpful in a practical manner. Think of your student’s transition plan as a bridge that spans from school to “life.”
Do not permit your student’s transition plan to be yet another “check off the list” part of the IEP. And, when you cannot obtain the type of transition plan your student requires, remember that you have the right to challenge that failure through due process.