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Transition Programs and Services

Transition, as defined by the latest revision of IDEA includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the acquisition of daily living skills, the development (for older children) of employment and adult living objectives, and intervention either in special education, specially designed instruction, or other related services which are appropriate for the child. In order to make transition a truly meaningful experience for the child, all of the above components must be in place, and there must be adequate personnel, resources, and the commitment to make it happen for every child who has an IEP, regardless of his or her disability or functional level.

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Transition Program
All of the activities that relate to transition must begin with an assessment of the child and a plan for his or her growth and ability to transition from one developmental level to another. As mentioned in the previous paper, Sitlington, Neubert, and Clark (2010) recommend that the transition assessment be an ongoing part of the student's daily routine, in line with district and state assessment protocols, that assessment methods and instruments be selected based on the questions that the IEP team members ask, and that multiple types and levels of assessments be conducted. The assessment process should be viewed as a normal and critical part of the IEP process, and that it is everyone's responsibility to be a part of the process, not just the transition specialist.

Clearly, however, different plans are required for different children. An autistic student would require vastly different plans from a child who has difficulties with emotional disturbance, or one who has specific learning disabilities. Therefore, for this paper, one transition program and the services required for that particular child described in the earlier paper will be discussed here.

As mentioned with regard to that child, the assessment process will involve formal cognitive functioning, scales completed by both parents/caregivers and educational professionals in the areas of social domains or multi-domains, and less formal assessment methods such as the APIE model (see Week 3 assessment plan).

Personnel Required for Transition Programming

All school personnel who have a direct contact with the child are a part of the programming that results from the child's transition assessment. These people, who have a part in the assessment process, would be invited to the IEP meeting to discuss transition goals and objectives, where they would also have a chance to interact with the child's parents, the child him or herself, and other professionals, such as school psychologists, school counselors. In the case of an older child whose transition may be into the community, community representatives of sheltered employment and other possible settings for work experience may also be a part of the programming process, adding heir expertise in to the process so that some specific direction for academic/life skill goals are possible, making the process more meaningful and realistic.

Parents and/or other caregiver are also a part of the assessment process. These people have the responsibility for giving supporting information and for assisting the assessment process by filling out survey forms such as the Ages and Stages Questionnaire. They also must be given the opportunity to share their ideas concerning programming goals and objectives. The same is rue of the student, if he or she is able to participate in the IEP meeting. Although this has traditionally been an area of weakness in the process, with parents not prepared to proactively advocate for their children, or the children unable to articulate their interests and personal goals, it is an important component nonetheless, and should be encouraged at every meeting with every child.

Additionally, any related service personnel should also be a part of the process. If there have been any occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, other mental health therapists, or other agency representatives who have an impact on the child's growth and development, these people should also be invited to participate in the transition planning portion of the IEP meeting, ready with their assessments and ready to incorporate their ideas with others so that a truly comprehensive plan is developed. (Sitlington, 2004).


Sitlington (2004), in a review of a specific school district with regard to its policies, programs and services for students receiving special education, pointed out in a lengthy discussion of transition programs that there may be some restraints placed on the ability of a school to perform transition activities and programs due to a lack of flexibility in terms of coursework for students that leads to a high school diploma, and that there may be a lack of functional and other life skills on the high school assessment program tests (FCAT). Overall program concerns may be that special education teachers are not aware of all options with various program fits in a program delivery sequence. There may also be problems with the actual physical placement of special education classrooms in terms of their proximity to other general education classrooms, and in some cases, there is a lack of involvement from other staff in the school and others who might have an interest in the child's transitioning.

Further, with regard to the specific program (developmentally delayed or mentally disabled), Sitlington cautions against a focus on purely academic content when it may be better to engage the students in life-skills training or other functional application activities.

At the school level, it may be important to nominate someone as a transition coordinator, although this role might perhaps fall, be default, on the counselor. The hiring, additionally, of more paraprofessionals can result in having them help with instruction in life and functional skill development. Importantly, however, among Sitlington's (2004) recommendations is the use of a flow chart "that presents all of the available program options and the various paths a student may take to enter and exit these options, and eventually transition to adult life. Share this material with students, parents, and staff." When this recommendation is implemented, transition becomes a visible effort in the school, and it also becomes demystified, clarifying roles and activities and possibilities.

Transition Plan Support

As mentioned in the assessment planning paper, transition assessment and programming should be an ongoing enterprise for all students with IEPs, as well as, ideally, all students. Because this child is a preschool child, transition planning is not as codified by the law as it will be for him when he is older. But that does not negate our responsibility to him. He should and will be assessed both formally and informally, by education professionals and by caregivers, and this assessment will drive the goals and objectives deemed necessary on the IEP. Thus, in accordance with state policy and local school policy, the student will be afforded the appropriate assessment instruments, will be given differentiated instruction, will be assessed informally with the APIE model, and will be treated as a child who will soon be entering upon his first major transition, that of becoming a students in formal kindergarten, with all that it entails. Al collaborations, all necessary anecdotal evidence, all formal evidence will be used to place the child into the appropriate setting, and all effort will be expended to ensure and assure that the placement is the appropriate one and that the child is making adequate progress and improvement in line with his or her abilities and needs.

The law, in fact, is very specific about who must be involved in the transition planning and who must be asked to participate. There is an emphasis on service coordination, and how services must be coordinated around the child and his family so that "individuals and families working with complex systems across agency lines" can have assistance which "will enhance their ability to live full lives in the community and school." (Minnesota System of Interagency Coordination, 2001).


Transition programs and services must be based on appropriate transition assessment for each child individually and specifically, and it must include all stakeholders in the process as a comprehensive student/family centered effort to make the student's life as meaningful and fulfilling as possible in the community and in the school. Obviously, if transition plans and assessments are individualized, the services offered by schools to meet these ends must also be individualized. It is possible, and recommended, however, that transition services be seen as a continuum of possibilities, and these can be categorized and presented as a flow chart in the school, reflecting local school possibilities for transitions services.

It is also clear that the child and his or her family are the reason that transition assessment, planning, and service implementation are done. Regardless of resources, every attempt must be made to engage in the transition process as fully as possible, and everyone in the school should be cognizant of the transition planning and implementation process so that the effort is always as comprehensive as it can be, resulting in the best possible outcomes for the student and his or her family.


Minnesota System of Interagency Coordination. (2001, Spring). Service coordination for children and youth with disabilities ages 3-21. Minneapolis, MN: Author.

Sitlington, P.L. (2004). Evaluation findings: Richland School District Two transition programs and services for students receiving special education.

Sitlington, P.L., Neubert, D.A., and Clark, G.M. (2010). Transition education and services for students with disabilities. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.
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