Preparing Students with Special Needs for Graduation: Transition & the IEP
written by: Finn Orfano
• edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom
• updated: 8/2/2012
Transition for students with special needs means preparing them for life after high school. When thinking about transition for students with learning disabilities, there are a few options. Read on to learn more.
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Transition in the IEP
Starting at the age of 14, in every student’s IEP, transition needs to be addressed. Learning disabled students and transition involves taking their strengths, needs, and area of disability to find the best place for them after they graduate from high school. Each student’s transition plan needs to be carefully thought out. The IEP team needs to make sure that the plan that has been established for this student is followed through and really is the best plan for that student. What exactly is in a transition plan? First, let’s take a look at what should happen when the student reaches the age of 14.
In every IEP, there is a section devoted especially to transition. In this section, the IEP team needs to decide what the future plans are for the student after they graduate from high school. Some students may know what they want to do at this young age, and some may not, and that is ok. The IEP can always be changed depending on what the student really wants to do. It is a good idea to leave this section vague, when they are this young, but it still needs to be addressed. There are two different options to the transition section of the IEP that apply to students with learning disabilities, first let’s look at the post-secondary option.
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For students that want to either go to college, community college, or even a vocational school after they graduate, this is the best option for them. In the IEP then, it should state something to the effect that “student has a goal of attending college or vocational school upon high school graduation. Student is enrolled in courses that support this goal." For students with this future goal there also needs to be an actual goal in the IEP that matches this.
In this transition plan, the student should eventually be taken to visit various colleges and schools. They should also meet with their guidance counselor to talk about what their options are.
Once they know the school they will be attending, they can work with their guidance counselor and the selected schools to see what services are available for them. Many schools have a center that students with disabilities can go to where they can receive extra help. They can also take tests in a separate room and get extra time to complete tests as well. They key with this is knowing what services you are entitled to, so the student really needs to ask a lot of questions. They won’t have an IEP anymore, but there will still be services they can receive.
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Students that do not want to further their education would then choose the employment option. In order to support this choice, students should be able to visit various places of employment, practice interviewing, work on a resume, and maybe even go on some interviews before they graduate. With this goal, the key is to making sure the student is prepared to enter the world of work.
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Both of these options are great choices when talking about learning disabled students and transition. Of course, there are more services available to them if they go to school first, rather then getting a job. Whichever goal is chosen, the goals in the IEP need to match to their future plans. Also, the courses they take throughout their high school career aneed to support their transition plan. If they are going to school, they should be taking some higher level courses with the appropriate modifications and accommodations. If they are going to get a job, then they need goals in their IEP that will help them reach that goal. Remember, the transition plan will enable the student to be ready for whatever lies ahead upon high school graduation.