Transition planning is a legal requirement under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. I believe it is one of the central purposes of the access to special education afforded by that law. Yet, at many and indeed most Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings involving transition planning, the concept of planning for something, whether it be college, job, or independent living, seems to be a source of confusion or an after-thought. High schools seem unable to figure out how to assess the skills that will be needed for these students. They often refer to a very general routine checklist or interest inventory that is administered to students via computer or in an interview. There is so much more needed. This is not a problem only for schools with few resources. Unfortunately, the districts that seem to be doing the worst job of figuring out if students are prepared for life after high school are the most affluent.
There seems to be little relevance to the course of study and the desired outcome. The students may be accumulating credits but there is often little relationship to those clasees and life in the post high school world. Students may have amassed all of the requisite classes and still be unable to fill out a job application or understand how to go about developing a career. For students who are college bound with no disabilities, this is still a problem, but for those with IEP’s, this gap can be disastrous. We should be preparing students for a career, job, and a life. However, many of my clients are panicked that their children will end up living in their basement with aimless lives as a result of this lack of preparation. Without help, many will. The definition of transition services serves as a good guide post.
We must do a better job at delivering all education services, but this is an area that must be addressed in a systematic, objective way, so that all students are prepared for the next steps after high school.
The IDEA’s language is clear:
TRANSITION SERVICES– The term ‘transition services’ means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that–
(A) is designed to be 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 post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation
(B) is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests…
For a thought provoking discussion of the role of education in preparing young people for the world, see Thomas Friedman’s Op-Ed, “Need a Job? Invent It.”Share on Facebook