Transitions from School FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Transition services help a student with a disability plan for life after high school to prepare for continuing education, for work in the community and for living as independently as possible.  Following are some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic.

What is Transition from School?
Transition  helps a student with a disability plan for life after high school. The process includes identifying students’ interests and preferences. Transition services may include preparation for vocational, technical or university education, for work in the community and for living as independently as possible.

Transition empowers a student by providing choices, possibly never considered, about their future and reduces fears and discomfort experienced by parents or guardians. Effective transition planning uses a person-centered process that starts and ends with the student.  Students explore options that are available to them, beginning in elementary school and ongoing throughout their school career, so they can begin to consider and make decisions about what they want to do and where they want to live as an adult.

Why are Transition services needed?
All students must consider life choices after high school.  The most common choices for any student planning his/her future after high school are pursuing training or education, employment, and living independently.  Transition services are important for students with disabilities because these choices are more complex and require a great deal of planning. Students with disabilities may have to consider transportation concerns, work and school accommodations, personal care needs, and other factors.

Who receives Transition services?
Students classified as having a disability requiring special education services are eligible and entitled to transition services.

Who provides Transition services?
Transition planning and services are required under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004.  The act requires transition services to be carried out by the public school system. In addition, the Rehabilitation Act Amendments requires each state (i.e. the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation) to include plans, policies and procedures for cooperating with agencies and schools responsible for students receiving special education services to facilitate their transition to employment.

How do transition services work?
Transition planning becomes formalized as part of the student’s Individualized Education Program or IEP. To develop and implement the IEP, a transition team is formed. The student’s transition team must include the student, parents or guardians, Local Educational Authority, regular and special education teachers, vocational educational representative, if part of plan, and a person who can interpret test results if needed.  Others team members may include anyone providing valuable services to the student; such as, a guidance counselor, job developer/coach, community service providers, friends and relatives.

Measurable post high school goals need to be in place by the time a student reaches an age specified by state or federal law. Transition goals cannot be achieved in one year and may be refined as the student learns, matures and gains new skills and interests. The goals are written into the IEP and activities, including classes to take in high school, are designed to help the student move toward achieving these goals.

Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Transition Services

Be Active!  Self-Advocacy means speaking up for yourself, making your own decisions, standing up for your rights and understanding your responsibilities - in other words, doing your homework! Here are some tips:

  • Know how to ask for what you want.
  • Always follow your own values, standards and beliefs.
  • Don’t be afraid to express your feelings.
  • Determine what is important to you.
  • Make decisions based on what you want or need.

Join a community dedicated to youth transition: Strength of Us (

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