young man standing with arms crossed working in convenience store

Transition planning is an ongoing process. Pace yourself.

Even as adults, we’re still re-evaluating our strengths and capabilities, and adjusting our dreams and lifestyles based on what we learn about ourselves. It’s important that we start early in helping our students prepare for adulthood. 

Successful post-secondary transition planning includes person-centered transition activities and services that grow with your child over time. You know your student: What do they enjoy doing? What makes them thrive during and after school? What are their interests, strengths and needs? Their responses form the basis of the vision statement.

What is a transition-focused IEP?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that transition planning begin no later than age 16, and some states (like Massachusetts) require school teams to start as early as age 14.

This guide offers transition-specific guidance for building an IEP that will support your child in achieving their goals after high school. And this glossary will help you get familiar with the terms you’ll hear along the way.

The key is collaboration: we encourage parents and educational teams to work together, so that each student can define their own success and achieve meaningful, post-secondary outcomes.

  • Age-appropriate assessments
  • Student participation
  • Vision statement
  • Post-secondary goals
  • Coordinated transition activities

The vision statement is your student’s dream of the future. It should drive the transition planning and lay the foundation for IEP development.”

Building a strong, transition-focused IEP

As you approach the IEP process, you’ll have questions. Here, we share insight and answers for those that are asked frequently.

A teacher works with a young student.

Where does transition get documented on the IEP?

Transition planning and services should be well-represented and integrated throughout your student’s IEP.

young man shakes a hand following a mock interviewrview session.

How can we maximize the transition IEP meeting?

We have tips to make the IEP meeting productive and solution-oriented to support your transition-aged student.

A young man holds a guide wire and runs during a track meet
Mateo holds a guide wire and runs during a track meet

Why should students be leading the IEP process?

Active participation improves transition outcomes – and that means finding ways to let your student lead.

A teacher is sitting next to a girl, shining a flashlight on her desk.
A girl in a supportive chair looks at tangible symbols on the tray in front of her that are illuminated by a teacher’s (Grace’s) flashlight.

What defines a well-written, transition-focused IEP?

An educational consultant shares what to look for in your student’s IEP.

Transition Talks workshop: Student-Centered IEPs – A Pathway to Stronger Transition Outcomes

Supporting students to be self-determined in their IEP meetings helps develop leadership and self-advocacy skills that are paramount in later transition outcomes. In thisTransition Talks workshop, learn how to foster and support a student-led IEP experience.

Diving into the components of the IEP

There are many elements to crafting a strong, successful IEP – and these are some of the things you’ll want to think about first.

Student walking with cane on college campus

Making age-appropriate assessments

Transition assessments from multiple perspectives should inform your IEP planning.

Young man with walker talking to teacher in Perkins musuem

Writing a transition-focused vision statement

Incorporate a transition- focused foundation into the vision statement.

Standing, Kimi arranges purple and cream-colored flowers in a flower pot.
Kimi arranges flowers in vases and delivers them throughout the community as part of her vocational training sessions.

Developing post-secondary goals

Establish a destination that will guide your transition planning.

Student reads tactile calendar with teacher

Incorporating an action plan

A committed team and a coordinated approach are critical to building a strong action plan.

Andrew pets a baby goat.

Transition planning is a journey, and every family’s is unique. Be resilient, fearless, and open to where your student’s interests and strengths lead.”

Let’s consider your student’s goals.

We have resources to support your student’s transition goals after high school: services, assessments, and action items appropriate for each pathway.

Post-secondary education: College and alternatives

Inclusive employment, vocational and career training

Community participation and independent living

Stay in the conversation about post-secondary transition.

Our experts are changing the way people think about preparing students with disabilities for their post-secondary journeys – in college, career and the community. Stay up to date about the latest insight, research and resources.