IEP Transition Planning: It’s SMART and It’s the Law

[NYPT Fall 2018]

By Patrice Rachlin, Special Education Specialist

Children are often asked the question “What do you want to do when you grow up?”

Whether the child’s interests and goals lead them to college, vocational school or the workforce, schools are required to help students with IEPs plan for their future.

This process is called Transition Planning and is required under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Under the IDEA, a student’s IEP must include transition services by the time the student turns 16, but the process can start as early as middle school.

The law requires your child’s IEP team to invite your child to meetings where transition planning is discussed.

Transition plans can vary widely in terms of how they’re set up, and how long and detailed they are. Some transition plans might be as short as a few paragraphs, while others might be a few pages.

One way to make sure your child has appropriate transition goals is to see if they are “SMART.” This stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results-oriented and Time-bound.

All plans must include the following:

  1. A description of your child’s strengths and interests.
  2. Measurable goals for after high school: including school, work and independent living (if needed).
  3. Services to help your child achieve those goals.

No matter what format your child’s transition plan comes in, it should include all three of these areas. By law, your child must also be involved in creating this plan. Transition goals are reviewed and updated every year, along with the rest of the IEP.

Key points to remember:

  • Under IDEA, transition planning is required for students with IEPs.
  • IEP transition goals must be results-orientated and measurable.
  • Students assume leadership roles on their IEP teams as part of transition planning.

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