In this lesson, we’ll cover the basics of transition planning for special education students, including what teachers need to do to make sure their students are ready to enter the adult world.
A student with a disability that impacts his or her success in school often receives comprehensive special education support services that begin as early as age three and last until he or she turns 21. Have you ever wondered what happens after this?Unfortunately, data shows that adult outcomes for those with disabilities are much less positive than they are for their peers without disabilities.
Much of this is due to the fact that the support students and their families are used to and entitled to in K-12 schools end when a student leaves high school. Adult services are frequently difficult to access and often require a certain set of exceptions for eligibility. Basically, disability support services for children and adults are very different.
Fortunately, with the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004, the law that governs public education for students with disabilities, many requirements have been set in place to ensure that a student with a disability can easily transition from high school to adulthood. One of the major ways to ensure better adult outcomes for students with disabilities is the transition plan.
Definition ; Stages
A transition plan is a component of the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for students with disabilities that focuses directly on the skills necessary to be successful in adulthood, such as those needed to attend college, live independently, and become involved in the community. Typically, the plan begins with a comprehensive assessment of a student’s interests, strengths, and needs as they pertain to life after high school. The results of these assessments lead to the establishment of annual and long-term goals that can help a student succeed after he or she leaves high school.
Next, special education teachers, family members, students, and others follow a specialized curriculum and complete strategic activities to achieve these goals. Finally, the plan is reviewed at least annually and updated as needed to ensure student progress.
All transition activities and plans usually have some things in common. Let’s examine some of the components that can lead to the creation of a great transition plan.
Teachers must help students with disabilities identify their strengths and limitations based upon the students’ unique situations. By doing this, students learn to speak up for themselves when they need help and choose the best and most realistic life paths following high school.Teachers must also identify and assess student needs in all areas of adulthood. Teachers use assessment information to identify needs and meet them individually. The goal in teaching life-skill development is to create well-rounded students. Life skills can include interpersonal skills (sometimes referred to as soft skills), functional academic skills (like how to use a calculator), financial skills (such as how to use a credit card), and even daily living skills (how to cook, clean, and shop).
Teachers must educate parents on the reasons for transition planning and instruction. A great way to do this is to have parents participate in IEP meetings and to keep them updated on class activities. Additionally, teachers must use parent information when planning for and assessing transition-age students.
Finally, it is important that teachers take into account a family’s unique beliefs and needs as they cooperatively plan for a student’s future.When planning for a student’s transition from high school to adulthood, teachers must realize that simple classroom-based lessons are not always adequate. Teachers must allow students to apply the skills learned in real-life scenarios. Activities such as field trips, job shadowing or internships, and specially designed curriculum programs that extend the walls of the classroom are key to designing successful transition programs.
When planning for the future of a student with a disability, a team of supportive experts who know the student can play an important role. Families, of course, must be involved, but other special education and adult disability service providers should participate in the planning too, especially those familiar with the supports the student will need to be successful as he or she exits high school.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 provides a very detailed definition of what teachers must do to develop a student’s transition plan as he or she leaves high school and enters the adult world. These requirements can ensure a greater likelihood of success in work, independent living, and community participation. The five elements essential to transition planning include:
- Student-focused planning
- Life skill development
- Family-centered activities
- Program design
- Team-centered planning