When reauthorizing IDEA in 2004 Congress found that “while graduation rates for children with disabilities continue to climb, providing effective transition services to promote successful post-school employment or education is an important measure of accountability for children with disabilities.”
IDEA defined transition services to mean a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that:
- is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
- is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and
- includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
These transition services will be provided through a transition plan which is a part of the child’s IEP. The transition plan must be included in the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16. This is why the student must be invited to attend the IEP when they turn 16. Since, the transition plan is required to take into account the child’s interests and preferences their input is crucial to the process. The transition plan has two parts:
- Goals that are measurable and based on age appropriate transition assessments; and
- Transition services needed to assist the child to receive their post-school outcomes.
Transition assessments can be either formal or informal but no matter what method is used the assessment should include:
- Identifying interests, needs and preferences;
- Identifying transition services;
- Figuring out post-school goals;
- Figuring out interagency supports; and
- Developing functional skill instruction.
While it is not required to include interagency linkages in the transition plan if a participating agency fails to provide transition services outlined in the plan the school district must reconvene the IEP team to identify alternative strategies to meet the transition objectives for the child set out in the IEP. Some of the community agencies that might be included in a transition plan include, Department of Rehabilitation, Workability Programs, Regional Center or County Mental Health.
As mentioned above the child must be invited to the IEP starting on his 16th birthday but by the age of majority, most likely his 18th birthday, the now adult student must attend the IEP. Check here for the age of majority in your State. At the age of majority the adult student will hold their own educational rights. These include, notification of meetings, consent to assessment, selection of IEP participants, approval of the IEP and approval regarding change of placement. These rights must be explained to the student one year prior to reaching the age of majority so that the parents and student have time to prepare for this transfer. If the parents do not feel the student has the mental capacity to make their own choices at the age of majority they would need to get a conservatorship from a judge. The other choice would be for the student to assign their educational rights back to their parents but that assignment is discretionary and can be revoked by the student at anytime.
For those students on an IEP they must be given a summary of performance when they leave school with a diploma or age out. For those students who are not on track to graduate they may receive services until they turn 22. The summary of performance will summarize how the student functions in activities of daily living and recommendations about how to assist the student in meeting post-school goals. The summary of performance is not part of the IEP.