What is transition planning or transition services?

Transition planning was designed to prepare students with disabilities to move smoothly from the world of school to the world of postsecondary education, employment and independent living. As part of a student’s Individual Education Plan (IEP), a transition plan is required by both state and federal law (Minn. Stat. 120.17, subd. 4a, and Section 300.29 under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). Formal transition planning begins when a student reaches ninth grade or age 14, although planning can begin earlier. The plan is developed by the IEP team, which includes the students, parents, teachers, guidance counselor, transition coordinator, social worker or other support specialists.


The five federally mandated areas of transition planning include:

• Independent Living

• Recreation and Leisure

• Community Participation

• Jobs and Vocational Training

• Post-Secondary Education

Ensuring a successful transition requires comprehensive planning, assessment and information gathered in an organized manner. This information should include a formal standardized transition assessment instrument, such as the Enderle-Severson-J or the TPI, and informal measures, such as checklists, curriculum activities, along with student input. From this information, a plan is developed that is tailored and responsive to an individual student’s needs and preferences. All areas of adult functioning must be addressed, but not all students will have identified needs in all areas. Basically, transition services are a coordinated set of activities based on the individual student’s needs and takes into account the student’s preferences, interests, abilities, and dreams.

Good or best practice transition services should provide two very important components:

• Self-advocacy skills training, including gaining awareness of self, such as understanding one’s disability, learning and work styles, job interests, legal accommodations and supports, and next steps/future plans. Self-advocacy is having the opportunity to learn and know one’s rights and responsibilities, stand up for them, and make choices.

• Access to community organizations, jobsites, colleges/training programs, and resources that support transition. Ideally, curriculum and self-advocacy skill training are part of a community-based experiential learning program that offers students an opportunity to explore future options for adult life, employment, postsecondary education, other post-school adult living goals, and (if appropriate) the acquisition of daily living skills and a functional vocational assessment. Some examples include learning how to open and maintain a bank account, take a college placement test and/or gain work experience through either a paid or non-paid internship at a local business, visit a workforce center, or the Disability Law Center.

Where can I learn more?

LDA of Minnesota:  call 952-582-6000 or email info@ldaminnesota.org

LDA of America: www.ldaamerica.org

Learning Disabilities On-line: www.LDOnLine.org

Association on Higher Education and Disability: http://www.ahead.org

Job Accommodation Network (JAN): http://janweb.icdi.wvu.edu

National Transition Alliance for Youth with Disabilities: http://www.dssc.org/nta

Minnesota Career Information System (MCIS): https://mncis.intocareers.org/materials/portal/home.html   

Internet System for Education and Employment: http://www.iseek.org