It’s Never too Early to Plan for Secondary Transition

It’s Never too Early to Plan for Secondary Transition 

As one school year ends, it is only a few short months of summer until school is back in session. This can be both exciting and nerve wracking for high school students and their families as they look forward to what will come next when they graduate or promote out of high school. For students with disabilities, there is some support and services that can be helpful during this time of transition.


What are Secondary Transition services?

Transition services are defined by federal law through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This begins when students turn 14 (or earlier, if the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team agrees). From age 14 until students graduate or turn 22, students with IEPs receive transition services from their public-school districts.


Transition services include a coordinated set of activities with measurable outcomes that will move the student from school to post-school activities. There are a growing number of educators and families that start this plan well before the age of 14 for their students in an effort to get the best possible outcome and plan outlined.


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B, Subpart A, Section 300.43 the regulations state the following.

(a) Transition services means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that—

(1) 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 postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation.

(2) Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and includes—

(i) Instruction;

(ii) Related services;

(iii) Community experiences;

(iv) The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and

(v) If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational evaluation.

(b) Transition services for children with disabilities may be special education, if provided as specially designed instruction, or a related service, if required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.


Why is it important?

Ongoing transition planning helps students develop independence and increase skills needed to be successful which may help them to reach their career, schooling, and adult-living goals. Even when students do not yet know what they would like to do after high school, the ability to have conversations with educators and learn about resources in the community starts to help shape ideas and goals. This is also an important time to explore assistive technology supports that may create even greater access for students.


How do you learn more about Secondary Transition?

There are some wonderful national, state, and community organizations specifically focusing on this topic. Students and families should make sure they are in contact with their IEP team through their school district and start/continue secondary transition planning discussions. To explore additional resources related to this topic, students, families, and educators can browse these national and state resources for ideas and information.


  • Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP): Policy Guidance- A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities.
  • National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: The Collaborative (NTACT:C) is a Technical Assistance Center co-funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).
  • National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET)- Originally funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) from 2000-2008, focused on the secondary education and transition of youth with disabilities. NCSET coordinated national resources, offered technical assistance, and disseminated information related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities in order to create opportunities for youth to achieve successful futures. NCSET is no longer funded through OSEP, however continues to disseminate resources via this website with support from the Institute on Community Integration in the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development.
  • IRIS Center: What is secondary transition and why is it important for students with disabilities?- The IRIS Center is a national center dedicated to improving education outcomes for all children, especially those with disabilities birth through age twenty-one, using effective evidence-based practices and interventions.
  • PACER’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment- Founded in 2014, PACER’s National Parent Center on Transition and Employment builds on PACER’s decades of experience providing high quality assistance and support to parents, youth, and professionals on transition topics. This innovative project will keep the needs of families at the forefront and help youth with disabilities find success in postsecondary education, employment, and life in the community.
  • Center for Parent Information & Resources -Parent Training Information Centers- These centers are located in states  nationwide and perform a variety of direct services for children and youth with disabilities, families, professionals, and other organizations that support them. They work with families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, birth to 26 to help parents participate effectively in their children’s education and development and they partner with professionals and policy makers to improve outcomes for all children with disabilities.
  • Parents Helping Parents-Connections California- An example of a Parent Training Information Center transition resources. The Connections California program applies to any person with any disability. Everything is organized into five main categories. The goal is to help find the information easily for the transition to adulthood.
  • Think College- Institute for Community Inclusion- A national initiative dedicated to developing, expanding, and improving research and practice in inclusive higher education for students with intellectual disability. It is based at the Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts Boston.

As you explore resources and discuss supports, don’t forget School Health carries a wide variety of products that could play a role in transition planning for students. These products range from Augmentative & Alternative Communication , Living Aids , Positioning & Mobility , Computer & Tablet Access , to Motor skills and more.  Remember it’s never too early to plan for Secondary Transition!


“All students can learn to succeed, but not on the same day in the same way.”

~William G. Spady


Posted in Access Angle Segment