As special education students reach high school, it becomes time to think about the afterlife—that is, life after high school.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that within the IEP in place when the student turns 16, there must include transition service needs. However, it's never too early to start the process. Factors to be considered are:
Will there be:
- Continued academic preparation?
- Development of a viable community experience?
- Development of vocational and independent living objectives?
- A functional vocational evaluation (if applicable)?
Guidance is necessary to move from high school to the next stages in life. Steps must be documented and taken to guide and prepare students for college and a career or for independent living. Without goals, students may fall off the radar and flounder. Consider these sobering statistics:
- Over 30% of children with disabilities leave high school early (Source: 28th Annual Report to Congress on the Implementation of IDEA, 2006).
- Only 13% of students with learning disabilities (compared to 53% of students in the general population) have been enrolled in a post-secondary school program within two years of leaving high school (Source: National Longitudinal Transition Study, 1994).
One way to begin is to teach students to advocate for themselves as early as possible.
- Begin by talking with students about what they do well and the extent of their disability. Many students have never been required to articulate the nature of their disability. Likewise, they can't always talk about skills they have learned and mastered to date.
- Students may need to practice the words they need to verbalize what they can and cannot do.
- Evaluate whether students can succeed in a post-secondary academic setting. Not all students are college material, but students need to be able to engage in discussions about college or community college.
- Plan a visit to your local community college. This resource is uniquely qualified to provide the kind of guidance your students will need to get the conversation started.
Starting at age 14 and continuing until the student is no longer eligible for special education services, the IEP team should:
- Help the student work through his or her own IEP
- Take into account the student's preferences and interests
- Include developing the student’s post-school goals
See more at: Wrightslaw.com.
For students who are interested in embarking on a career right out of high school, administering an interest inventory might be a way to start. Finding the right job is not easy, even for highly skilled individuals. It's even more difficult for those who lack adequate training or face special challenges.
For more great ideas on how to start preparing students for effective transition planning:
Grant Name: Technical Assistance and Dissemination to Improve Services and Results for Children With Disabilities
Funded By: Department of Education
Description: The purpose of this priority is to fund three cooperative agreements to establish and operate model demonstration projects that are designed to improve the literacy of adolescents with disabilities in middle and high school grades. For purposes of this priority, the target population includes: Students with disabilities in grades 6 through 12 who score below grade level in reading, or who have identified reading goals and objectives on their individualized education program.
Program Areas: Disabilities, Reading, Special Education
Eligibility: Public School, Private School, Other
Proposal Deadline: 5/4/2015
Annual Total Amount: $1,200,000.00
Average Amount: $400,000.00
Address: Education Publications Center (ED Pubs), U.S. Department of Education, PO Box 22207, Alexandria, VA 22304
Telephone: 202-245– 6425
Website: Department of Education
Availability: All States