Skip to Main Content


Secondary Transition

Middie Rising

Transition Timelines

Transition is the change from one stage of a person’s life to another stage (such as moving from the school world to the adult world). It is a gradual process and a plan is important to make the process go smoothly. The process is called “transition planning” and is one of the most misunderstood parts of the IEP (Individual Education Program) process. Successful transitions begin as family, school and the community think about the future, plan ahead and work together. See below the transition timelines that explains the work and activities that need to happen at different ages during the transition process. 
AGE 14:
  • Statement of transition needs that focuses on your child’s course of study (college or vocational training)
  • Assessment of student's preferences, interests, needs, strengths (PINS) and academic performance
  • Develop an understanding of own disability and learning style
  • Practice self advocacy skills, co-lead IEP meeting if appropriate
  • Identify job interest and abilities
  • Identify future career, education, independent living goals
  • Identify when student will leave school (can attend through age 21) 

AGE 16:

  • Transition planning (focus on interagency responsibility or needed linkages including Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities (BCBDD), Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR), Social Security Administration (SSA) etc.
  • Identify when student will leave school (can attend through age 21)
  • Include activities such as career exploration, job sampling and some job training
  • Begin to identify community services that provide job training and placement
  • Begin application to adult service agencies
  • Consider summer employment or volunteer experience
  • If college bound, take PSAT and plan for test accommodations if needed
  • Consider AP classes and review class schedule with guidance counselor
  • Continue to practice self advocacy skills (request accommodations from teacher when needed, be ability to talk about your disability and its impact on learning)
AGE 16 -18:
  • Contact Adult Services Programs:
  • Colleges, vocational or technical schools
  • Social Security Administration
  • Residential or independent living services
  • Recreation/Leisure groups
  • Medical Services
  • Butler County Board of Developmental Disabilities (BCBDD)
  • Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation (BVR)
  • Identify graduation date (may remain in school through age 21)
  • Begin formalized vocational assessments

AGE 17-18:

  • Begin to consider and research guardianship (if appropriate)
  • Continue to review and update transition plan
  • Take ACT, SAT tests
  • Visit colleges and disability services office
  • Register with Disability Service Office of your preferred college by the end of Senior year
  • Pursue college scholarships, grants. etc.
  • Review eligibility of medical insurance due to age
  • Age of Majority, notified age 17, assumes age 18
  • If receiving SSI as a child, re-apply for services as an adult (age 18)

AGE 18-21:

  • Establish health benefits (medicaid?), SSI if needed.
  • At age 18, males will need to register for Selective Service (mandatory registration, forms available at your local post office/library)
  • Check local taxation code for any yearly filings that will need to be done (ex. Middletown income tax is filed by each individual)
  • Continue to update and review Transition Plan
  • Develop long term financial support plan (ex. SSI) if needed
  • If long term support (i.e. supported living) is needed, check into possibilities
  • If working with adult service agencies, identify support coordinator, vocational counselor, etc. forstudent. Develop plans or necessary agreements (i.e. individual work plan with BVR, etc.)
  • Gather all appropriate documentation before leaving school (Evaluation Team Report, Summary of Performance, recommendation letters, transcripts, etc.)

In the federal regulations, secondary transition is described as: "designed to be within 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 postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation; is based on the individual child's needs, taking into account the child's strengths, preferences, and interests; and includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation." 

Ohio is exceeding the requirements of the Federal Regulations through the enactment of Ohio Senate Bill 316 which now requires comprehensive transition planning and provision of transition services beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child is fourteen years of age.

The information below describes the required transition activities for school-age students with disabilities that are intended to facilitate their move from special education services to community life. 

  • Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, and, if assessment data supports the need, independent living skills; and
  • Appropriate measurable post-secondary goals based on age-appropriate transition assessments related to employment in a competitive environment in which workers are integrated regardless of disabilities; and
  • The transition services including courses of study needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.

The intended outcome of this process should result in the identification of the "courses of study and other educational experiences along with transition services" that the child will need to move them towards their identified post-school visions, goals or outcomes. These may include, but are not limited to the following: required courses; elective courses; modified courses; specially designed courses; educational experiences in the school; and/or educational experiences in the community.

It is important to recognize that as the student grows and changes, so does his/her interest in school and post-school outcomes. Flexibility is a major component of all aspects of transition planning.

Agencies may be appropriate to support the secondary transition services of a child with a disability. IDEA provides additional guidance to districts on the requirements of involving agencies by stating:

If a purpose of a child’s IEP Team meeting will be the consideration of postsecondary goals for the child and the transition services needed to assist the child in reaching those goals, the LEA, to the extent appropriate, and with consent, must invite a representative of any participating agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services to attend the child’s IEP Team meeting. However, if the participating agency does not attend the meeting, the LEA is no longer required to take other steps to obtain participation of an agency in the planning of any transition services. [34 CFR 300.321(b)(1) and (3)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)]

The statement of "interagency responsibilities or any needed linkages" (when appropriate) directs the IEP team to jointly plan with other agencies and service providers to ensure that the student's needs are met both during and after the student completes his or her secondary education. 

The transition process begins with the student's dream for the future. It will answer the questions of what you want to do after you graduate high school and where and how you want to live your life. To answer these questions you must first understand who you are and what the possibilities for the future can include. It begins with assessments specifically around your Preferences, Interests, Needs and Strengths (referred to as PINS). As part of the transition process this will begin formally at age 14 and continue throughout your high school years. 

Assessment data will be gathered around 3 specific areas which relate directly to the transition plan and goals as outlined on the Individualized Education Program (IEP). The 3 areas are post secondary education and training (i.e. college, vocational training, etc.), employment and independent living skills (including self determination and advocacy skills, financial and healthcare skills and daily living skills). The assessments in these areas provide a baseline or beginning point for the student and drive the instruction, activities and training that will need to happen as part of the transition plan. This baseline becomes the present levels of performance on the IEP. It also connects what the student is doing right now to their future and makes high school meaningful for them. The continued assessments provides documentation of the students progress. 

Assessments can be formal or informal. Formal assessments use a standard way for administrating, scoring and interpreting results. The interpretation is relative to other students (i.e. compare one student to other students). Some examples of formal assessments are intelligence tests, specific aptitude and achievement tests, state and district tests, vocational assessments and information from the Evaluation Team Report. Informal assessments are less structured and allow assessment of student performance over time and with a variety of people (student, family, employer, teacher). It does not compare the student to other students.

Examples of informal assessments include interviews, checklists, questionnaires, direct observation and student self-evaluation. In selecting an assessment it is important to keep in mind what information you want to gather so it can be used to develop realistic and meaningful IEP goals and objectives. Below are informal assessments arranged by area.

Self Determination and Self Advocacy 

Two of the most important skills for transition planning is self determination and self advocacy. Self determination is knowing and accepting who you are, where you want to go in life and developing a plan to get there. Self advocacy means the ability to understand and explain your disability, strengths, challenges and to ask for help when you need it. It is really about individual choice and being able to speak up for oneself. Good transition planning is an individual focused plan that allows for choices!

Building self determination and advocacy skills on behalf of the student/child will take time and should begin long before the transition process. Hopefully, we have allowed our children/students to make choices, suffer consequences, speak up for themselves, etc. As we build a transition plan we are asking students to listen and take-in information, sort through it and see what makes sense to them. It is about self exploration (who am I?) and learning to take that information and share it with others (such as advocating for accommodations on the job or at college). Learning about our preferences, interests, needs and strengths all help to identify who we are. Please see below for some activities and further information to develop these skills.

Promoting Self Determination In Youth with Disabilities: Tips For Families and Professionals (taken from NCSET brief) 

Promote Choice Making
  • Identify strengths, interests, and learning styles;
  • Provide choices about clothing, social activities, family events, and methods of learning new information;
  • Hold high expectations for youth;
  • Teach youth about their disability;
  • Involve children and youth in self-determination/self advocacy; opportunities in school, home, and community;
  • Prepare children and youth for school meetings;
  • Speak directly to children and youth;
  • Involve children and youth in educational, medical, and family decisions;
  • Allow for mistakes and natural consequences;
  • Listen often to children and youth. 
Encourage Exploration of Possibilities
  • Promote exploration of the world every day;
  • Use personal, tactile, visual, and auditory methods for exploration;
  • Identify young adult mentors with similar disabilities;
  • Talk about future jobs, hobbies, and family lifestyles;
  • Develop personal collages/scrap books based on interests and goals;
  • Involve children and youth in service learning (4H, Ameri­Corps, local volunteering). 
Promote Reasonable Risk Taking
  • Make choice maps listing risks, benefits, and consequences of choice;
  • Build safety nets through family members, friends, schools, and others;
  • Develop skills in problem solving;
  • Develop skills in evaluating consequences. 
Encourage Problem Solving
  • Teach problem solving skills;
  • Allow ownership of challenges and problems;
  • Accept problems as part of healthy development;
  • Hold family meetings to identify problems at home and in the community;
  • Hold class meetings to identify problems in school;
  • Allow children and youth to develop a list of self-identified consequences. 
Promote Self Advocacy
  • Encourage communication and self-representation;
  • Praise all efforts of assertiveness and problem solving;
  • Develop opportunities at home and in school for self-advocacy;
  • Provide opportunities for leadership roles at home and in school;
  • Encourage self-advocates to speak in class;
  • Teach about appropriate accommodation needs;
  • Practice ways to disclose disability and accommodation needs;
  • Create opportunities to speak about the disability in school, home, church, business and community. 
Facilitate Development of Self-Esteem
  • Create a sense of belonging within schools and communities;
  • Provide experiences for children and youth to use their talents;
  • Provide opportunities to youth for contributing to their families, schools, and communities;
  • Provide opportunities for individuality and independence;
  • Identify caring adult mentors at home, school, church, or in the community;
  • Model a sense of self-esteem and self-confidence. 
Develop Goal Setting and Planning
  • Teach children and youth family values, priorities, and goals;
  • Make posters that reflect values and are age-appropriate;
  • Define what a goal is and demonstrate the steps to reach a goal;
  • Make a road map to mark the short-term identifiers as they work toward a goal;
  • Support children and youth in developing values and goals;
  • Discuss family history and culture—make a family tree;
  • Be flexible in supporting youth to reach their goals; some days they may need much motivation and help; other days they may want to try alone. 
Help Youth Understand Their Disabilities
  • Develop a process that is directed by youth for self-identity: Who are you? What do you want? What are your challenges and barriers? What supports do you need?
  • Direct children and youth to write an autobiography;
  • Talk about the youth’s disability;
  • Talk about the youth’s abilities;
  • Involve children and youth in their IEP;
  • Use good learning style inventories and transition assessments;
  • Identify and utilize support systems for all people. 
As parents and teachers our job is to ask questions (which are sometimes difficult) and allow time for our children/student to process through the information. It is not about what we want but what the child/student wants. We need to gently guide and question as we step back to let our young adults assume responsibility for their life.

General Transition Information Ages 14-21 (documents may take a couple of minutes to download).

As you begin the transition process, it can be overwhelming! There is so much information and sometimes you don't even know what the questions are to ask. I have organized information for families by grade level to give families information/resources they need RIGHT NOW. Each grade level folders builds on the previous years folder. Some information will be the same year to year. New information that you need to know NOW will be found in the individual grade level folder (i.e. grade 8, grade 9, etc.)

Grade 8 (new information)

Be sure and review general transition information folder. New Grade 8 folder includes assessments, introduction to career planning, school and home connection

Grade 9 (new information)

Be sure and review general transition information folder. New Grade 9 information includes assessments, introduction to employment, planning for the future.

Grade 10 (new information)

Be sure and review general transition information folder. New Grade 10 information includes assessments, employability and independent living skills training and development, job information, future planning. 

Grade 12 (new information)

Be sure and review general transition information folder.New Grade 11 information includes college information, adult resource/agency contact information, and graduation transition checklists.

loading gif