What Does High-Quality Transition Assessment and Planning Mean?
During high school, students, educators, families, and other members of the educational team begin the important task of developing a transition plan outlining the student’s postsecondary goals (see box) along with the educational services, supports, and linkages that will help him or her achieve those goals. Age-appropriate transition assessments are used to help identify which transition services are most essential for a particular student. Each student’s transition plan should be unique and tailored to the individual strengths, needs, interests, skills, and strengths of the student. At the same time, each plan should create a pathway for students to move from high school to valued adult roles, including work.
As Yogi Berra said, “You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going because you might not get there.” A relevant and well-designed transition plan is crucial to ensuring students access the instruction, experiences, and supports they need to prepare for a good job or further education after high school. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act requires the IEPs of transition-age students to outline (1) appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and (2) the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.
Why is High-Quality Transition Assessment Planning Important?
Despite the importance of involving students actively in this assessment and planning process (Carter, Brock, & Trainor, in press; Wehman, 2011), many teachers struggle to carry out transition planning in ways that fully engage youth, families, and other professionals in the process. Yet, the planning process itself is critical to transition success. For example, when young people are actively involved in writing their own transition plan, they are developing self-determination and self-advocacy skills. Unfortunately, almost one quarter of youth with an intellectual disability or autism are not even present at their own transition planning and nearly half participate minimally when they are present (Shogren & Plotner, 2012).
How Do I Write a High-Quality Transition Plan?
Although transition planning should begin by age 14 (or earlier) in the state of Tennessee, the transition plan is not a static document. Instead, it evolves each year to match the emerging needs and goals of the young person. Opportunities for community-based work experience are an integral piece of the transition plan. Concrete goals and steps towards achieving those goals should be clearly outlined within the plan and based upon transition assessments. Quality transition planning involves the young person in developing their own transition plan. If young people feel as though their voice is included in their transition plan, they may be more likely be committed to the identified goals and steps.
Where Can I Learn More About Transition Assessment and Planning?
The following links include guides, stories, and other resources related to effective transition planning for employment among young people with IDD:
- Transition Tennessee Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment Course
- Transition Tennessee Addressing Transition in the IEP Course
- Age Appropriate Transition Assessment Toolkit
- The Arc Tennessee’s Secondary Transition Handbook: Moving from School to Adult Life
- A Life for Me Cyber Community
- Me!: Lessons for Teaching Self-Awareness and Self-Advocacy
- The Youthhood
What Research Supports Effective Assessment and Transition Planning?
A number of research studies have identified important elements of effective transition assessment and planning to promote positive employment outcomes after high school. The following articles provide research-based support for the importance and benefits of writing comprehensive and effective transition plans for students with IDD in our state:
- Carter, E. W., Brock, M. E., & Trainor, A. A. (in press). Transition assessment and planning for youth with severe intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Journal of Special Education. doi: 10.1177/0022466912456241
- Cobb, R. B., & Alwell, M. (2009). Transition planning/coordinating interventions for youth with disabilities: A systematic review. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 32, 7081. doi:10.1177/0885728809336655
- Karan, O. C., DonAroma, P., Bruder, M. B., & Roberts, L. A. (2010). Transition assessment model for students with severe and/or multiple disabilities: Competency-based community assessment. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 48, 387392. doi:10.1352/1934-9556-48.5.387
- Neubert, D. A., & Leconte, P. J. (2013). Age-appropriate transition assessment: The position of the Division on Career Development and Transition. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 36, 72-83. doi: 10.1177/2165143413487768
- Roberts, K. D. (2010). Topic areas to consider when planning transition from high school to postsecondary education for students with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 25, 158162. doi:10.1177/1088357610371476
- Shogren, K., & Plotner, A. (2012). Transition planning for students with intellectual disability, autism, or other disabilities: Data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 50, 1630. doi:10.1352/1934-9556-50.1.16
Specific Examples of Postsecondary Goals
- Goal #1: After high school, Javier will work full time in food service at a local hospital or nursing home
- Goal #2: After high school, Lexi will enroll in a community college program to receive training in cosmetology
- Goal #3: After high school, Mason will successfully complete an apprenticeship program in carpentry
- Goal #4: After high school, Aydin will work part time as a teacher’s aide at a local daycare
- Goal #5: After high school, Alicia will enroll in classes in the local technical school