Preparing Students With Disabilities for Life Beyond School

Preparing Students With Disabilities for Life Beyond School

Family and school partnerships are important components of school success and student achievement. Engaging families of youth with disabilities is especially crucial. When students with disabilities enter middle and high school, schools and families need to begin to ensure that these young adults are prepared for life after graduation. As mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA),


Transition planning is a process. . Recent research shows that over half of the states and territories in America, such as Florida, Illinois, and Pennsylvania, have chosen to lower the required transition planning age to at least 14 years old, since they believe that this process should begin as early as possible.


Student input in transition planning is required. This means that they need to attend their IEP meetings. . For instance, they can assist students in identifying their strengths and interests and determining if they wish to continue their education or pursue a career. This valuable information guides the IEP team when identifying appropriate support and services.

 Additionally, all materials provided to families should be available in their preferred language.


Transition assessment is an ongoing process that allows the IEP team to monitor students’ progress toward postsecondary goals. Assessment tools used in this process can be formal (Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales) or informal (John Litpak’s Transition-to-Work Inventory).


When all needed transition assessments are complete, schools should share the assessment results with students with disabilities and their families prior to the initial meeting. The IEP team will use the collected data not only to create postsecondary goals for the students with disabilities but also to determine the needed support and services.

Preparing Students With Disabilities for Life Beyond School For example, if the results show that a student with disabilities has robust academic skills (strength) and wants to continue their education (interest), the team may consider giving them opportunities to take one or two courses at a community college or a four-year college or university to gain experience learning in those environments (education and training).

Additionally, if the results show that the student has limited proficiency in performing household tasks (needs), such as laundry and cooking a simple meal, the team would need to determine how to strengthen the student’s skills in this area at school and at home.

Once transition planning begins

Preparing Students With Disabilities for Life Beyond School Students with disabilities and their families may find the journey of transition planning to be a nerve-wracking process because there are many uncertainties. Families may also be concerned about the limited support their youth with disabilities will receive after exiting high school.

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