Career Development with Special Education Transition Planning

The day has finally come, the day the federal government has laid, through the IDEA 2004, for you and the other members of your 14 year old student or child’s IEP team to come together to start a transition plan for her. Right now all that you have to do is identify her transitional needs, interests, and preferences including year-to-year break down of the plan until graduation. However, as each point in the plan is set forth, team members must remain mindful that the plan has to be go into action by the time the student turns 16 so there is limited time and little room for poor planning. Each item listed must coincide with a measurable goal and match with a set of courses that will best help the student transition into postsecondary life. Expound on each of the following points when special education transition planning:

(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 functional vocational evaluation.– IDEA Section 300.29

Now the question is, “How do we format the plan?” This is a relatively easy question once you know how a plan should look and how to break down each section for data entry.

Start the plan with student’s background information clearly connecting it with the purpose of the plan and the desired outcome. Use information from skills and interests inventories to place in this section. Up until now, the student’s input in his educational plan has not been required, but with a transition plan, it is very important for placing them in transitional activities where there are opportunities for success and so that they may gain work-study experience.

The next several headings will provide an example of a transition plan.

Course Study and Current Level of Performance Matched with Preferences, Strengths, and Interests

Sara is a 14-year-old freshman working towards a general, high school diploma. She is currently taking parenting class and has expressed an interest in childcare services as a career. She is very sensitive and loves kids expressing interest in working in the school’s on-site daycare center that she often visits afterschool. Sara possesses focus and dedication to any projects she works on. When surveyed, her results showed that she has insecurities in regards with having the right skills and education to get a job in childcare. She wants to live on her on as an adult but fears being unable to manage money and lacking transportation.

Post Secondary Goals and Desired Outcomes

Sara will use community services to get assistance in entering post secondary education in the field of childcare where she will start a career. Program counselors will help her work towards independent living while in the program and continue to help her maintain her independence after graduation.



Sara will obtain her high school diploma and enroll in childcare training program with the help of Rehabilitation Services. She will earn an associate’s degree through the program and fulfill all requirements for employment while living at home with her parents.


Upon graduation from the childcare program, Sara will obtain employment at a childcare center that is public transportation accessible.

Independent Living

Sara will secure housing with the help of Rehabilitation Services and partnered counselors. These service providers will also work with her to create and maintain a budget.

Community Experiences

Transition Goal

1. Sara will initially work in the on-campus childcare center for 18 weeks of her sophomore year (second semester). Her internship will continue dependent upon opportunities available at the center and her interest in working there.


a. Sara will submit an application and go in for an interview for the position.

b. Sara will inform her supervisor of her work schedule in accordance with her class schedule.

Person/Agency Involved

a. Student, teachers, parents, school counselor

Transition Goal

2. Sara will study for the driver’s exam and pass the first portion of the test by the end of her senior year.


a. Sara will secure a driver’s manual from the local motor vehicles office.

b. Sara will enroll in and attend driver’s education class provided by the school.

c. Sara will study for the test and practice for the exam.

Person/Agency Involved

a. Student, parents, resource teacher, driver’s education teacher

Transition Goal

3. Sara will enroll in a summer job program through the workforce center and work the entire summer of her junior year for at least 16-20 hours per week.


a. Sara will meet with the workforce center counselor to inquire about possible positions available in the summer program at a meeting set up by either her parents or her resource teacher.

b. Sara will work submit an application for employment and interview for a job.

c. Sara will work at the job assigned to her for the duration of set by the employer or until 2 weeks before school returns.

Person/Agency Involved

a. Student, parents, workforce center counselor, resource teacher

Creating a transition plan is not a difficult job. The example used here can easily be modified using a small bit of information gathered from the student, their parents, and other members of your team.Coupling the transition plan with the resources available in the community will help to address federal regulations.

Download a customizable transition plan template here.

This post is part of the series: Transitional Planning

Transition Planning for Special Needs Students
  1. Diverse Transition Planning Theories
  2. Life After High School for Students With Disabilities
  3. Person Centered Transition Planning for Disabled Students
  4. Special Education Transition Planning Using a Sample Plan