Transition Planning to Prepare Our Youth for Success

This is the fourth blog in a series of blog posts on secondary transition from the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS).

Successful Transitions for All Blog Series - Post 4 - Transition Planning to Prepare Our Youth for Success!

Expect, Engage, and Empower: Successful Transitions for All!
Blog Post #4

In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed the importance of self-determination and student-led decision making as critical skills children and youth with disabilities need to develop for successful transitions to post-secondary opportunities and greater independence. In our symposia, students, young adults, and parents, and educators and vocational rehabilitation professionals shared their own transition stories — how they have successfully transitioned to life beyond high school or how they have supported youth who have made that journey.

In this post, we continue to delve into the transition planning process, to ensure that youth and their families are empowered to experience successful post-high school outcomes.

Transition planning is a proactive, student-centered process that can help position a child with disabilities for success. Individualizing each student’s transition plan is vital and should be tailored to their aspirations, abilities, and the requirements of their educational or vocational goals. It may include connecting with community resources, postsecondary institutions or employment services to create a comprehensive support network for postsecondary achievements.

Parents, guardians or representatives serve a vital role supporting and encouraging self-determination and student led decision-making during the transition process by reinforcing students’ interests and supporting their journey.

Effective transition planning is characterized by strong teamwork, underscored by regular communication and alignment of objectives among all stakeholders. Early and thoughtful transition planning can help ensure that students with disabilities are equipped to conquer the challenges of the world beyond high school and thrive in their future endeavors.

Transition planning is not just about ensuring compliance with educational requirements; it is about fostering an environment where students with disabilities are empowered to realize their full potential and lead fulfilling lives. Starting the planning process early is indispensable as it allows ample time for students to explore post-secondary options, understand available supports, and develop the necessary skills and competencies for success in their chosen path.

Transition planning for students with disabilities is a critical pathway that requires the concerted efforts of local educational agencies, vocational rehabilitation agencies, parents, guardians, representatives, students, and other stakeholders. By integrating individualized educational programs (IEPs) with essential services and family support, this collaborative approach paves the way for students to navigate the shift from high school to adulthood successfully. Individualized transition plans, which emphasize a student’s unique needs and future aspirations, serve as the blueprint for achieving academic, vocational and personal independence.

For example, Kiley Bush shares how she is not letting her progressive hearing loss slow her down on the court or in the classroom. In this Stories from the Classroom video, we hear how Kiley worked with her special educator, Miss Pierce, to explore career opportunities and prepare to advocate for the accommodations she will need in college and on the basketball court.

As part of transition planning, IEP teams might consider a variety of exiting and postsecondary options for students with disabilities to help them achieve their goals:

  • Dual or Concurrent Enrollment Programs:
    These programs permit students to take college-level courses while in high school, enabling them to earn college credit and gaining a head start on higher education.
  • Early College High Schools:
    Specialized high schools that allow students to complete high school diplomas and associate degrees or earn significant college credits simultaneously.
  • Transition and Postsecondary Education Programs:
    College options for students with intellectual disabilities.
  • Internships and Mentorships:
    Structured work experiences and guidance from professionals in the field, which can provide insight into various occupations and industries.
  • Apprenticeships:
    A combination of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction in a specific trade or profession, that leads to certification and skilled employment.
  • Competitive Integrated Employment:
    Existing jobs in a company or customized employment positions that are negotiated with an employer. These jobs feature a wage paid directly to the student or youth and include part-time and summer jobs. These opportunities teach responsibility, time management, financial literacy and specific job skills.
  • Career Pathways:
    Programs that offer a sequence of education courses and hands-on training designed to align with the skills and knowledge required for specific career sectors.

To learn more about these opportunities and programs and to understand how they can be tailored to meet individual needs, review the following resources:

Students with disabilities need more options not fewer. Ensuring effective transition planning will help deliver on our nation’s promise of economic security and equal opportunity for all Americans with disabilities. Our schools, vocational rehabilitation agencies and other stakeholders must prepare students with disabilities for fulfilling careers that build a sense of personal value, financial equity and greater independence.

We challenge everyone who supports students with disabilities to continuously plant seeds of opportunity, while using the tools available to make their vision a reality. As a system, let’s move beyond our biases and silos and embrace partnership and collaboration in the spirit of fulfilling futures for those we serve.

Join us for the next OSERS’s symposium supporting our Expect, Engage, Empower: Successful Transitions for All! initiative Feb. 28. This symposium will focus on the important considerations children, youth, and young adults with disabilities and their families need to be aware of, and prepared for, to maximize their potential as they enter and move through the K-12 school system.

Register Here

Thank you!

Valerie C. Williams
Office of Special Education Program
Danté Allen
Rehabilitation Services Administration

Blog articles provide insights on the activities of schools, programs, grantees, and other education stakeholders to promote continuing discussion of educational innovation and reform. Articles do not endorse any educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy.

1 Comment

  1. I would love to hear more about equitable transition planning for disabled Latinxs. My understanding is that disabled Latinx youth and their families are often left out of transition planning or the possibility of attending college is not discussed. It would be great to have a blog post on what Latinx folks have seen/experienced in terms of barriers or challenges to transition planning and the conversations (or lack there of) around college access.

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