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TRANSITION & THE IEP: What you should know

An Individualized Education Program (IEP) must reflect transition services by the time the student reaches the age of 15. There will be parts of the IEP that have not been completed previously. Each new part is meant to help the student to continue to learn, develop, and maintain the skills that will help them reach their post-secondary goals.

Transition is defined as a set of activities designed to meet specific goals. These goals focus on improving the student’s educational and daily living skills so it is easier to move from school to life after high school graduation.

Key Elements of Transition in the IEP

  • Identify student strengths and needs

  • Determine future goals

  • Develop needed skills

  • Activities and services to support the student


Measure post-secondary goals: Long-term goals for living, working, and learning as an adult, which includes a statement of the goals the student has after exiting school.

  • Education/training: What kind of continued education (college/training) will the student need to reach the goal? 

    • After high school, Kelly’s goal is to attend a 4-year college and obtain a degree in teaching.

    • Following graduation, Tom will receive on-the-job training in retail industry.

  • Employment: What job/career will the student have after high school?

    • Kelly will be employed as a teacher.

    • Tom will work part-time with job supports in the retail industry.

  • Independent living skills (when appropriate): Where will the student live after high school?

    • Kelly will live independently in an apartment with a friend.

    • Tom will live at home with his parents.

  • Must be skills-based

  • Demonstrate the knowledge/behavior the student will work on

  • Are measurable and achievable

  • Are NOT a general expectation

    • Completed homework is an expectation, not a skill.

    • By 06/06/18, Kelly will interpret information when using a graph on 9 out of 10 trials on homework assignments.

    • By 06/06/18, Tom will follow directions when provided a visual checklist for 15 minutes at a time during his daily work.

Course of study: This states what the student will be exiting school with (diploma, credential) and identifies coursework and/or instruction s/he will receive to support their measurable post-secondary goals.

Transition needs: Keeping the present levels of performance in mind, transition needs of the student must focus on the student’s course of study, and take strengths, preferences, and interests into account as they relate to school and post-secondary activities.

  • Kelly needs to develop time management skills while completing activities.

  • Tom needs to learn appropriate work behavior when the supervisor is not present.

  • Must have a statement in all six sections:

    • Instruction: List specific course that will be taken and/or any special instruction that will be received to support transition needs.

    • Related services (if appropriate): Identify any related services that the student may be receiving and what they will be working on while receiving them.

      • Speech and Language

      • Occupational Therapy

      • Physical Therapy

      • Counseling

  • Community experiences: List/describe any community based experiences the school district will be providing to the student.

    • Work-based learning

    • Internship

    • Community field trips

    • Volunteer at SPCA

  • Development of employment and post-secondary adult living goals:

    • List activities for the student to a develop employment/living skills.

    • Interest inventories

    • Tour Career and Technical Education (CTE) program

    • Interview a police officer

    • Develop a presentation for his CSE meeting

  • Acquisition of daily living skills (if appropriate): List what the school can provide in the area of daily living.

    • Bill will sort and count change.

    • Mary will use a planner to manage time.

    • Joey will practice brushing his teeth.

    • Sylvia will practice telling time while in the community.

  • Functional vocational assessment (if appropriate): This is only for students who need a situational assessment (Level 3 Assessment) to help in developing their IEP. This assessment is done in an actual and/or simulated work setting to determine students’ strengths, abilities, and needs on the job.

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