Transition Guidelines

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Last Updated: 7 December 2022

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As a student approaches the time to leave high school, it is important that preparations for adult life are well underway. For early transition planning and active participation in decision making to occur for students with disabilities, members of the planning team need to be well-informed about the student’s abilities, needs, and available services.

This section highlights important considerations and resources available to educators helping to prepare students with a disability with a meaningful postsecondary education and thriving career.

Please note, that content from this section has been adapted from the California Transition Alliance, "Transition Planning: The Basics".

To view the source document click here.

Secondary Transition Services as Defined in IDEA

The term “transition services” means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that:

  • Is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities;
  • Including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
  • Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and
  • Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.

And includes:

  • To the extent appropriate, with the consent of the parents or child who has reached the age of majority, the public agency must invite a representative of any participating agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services. (34 CFR 300.321(b)(3))
  • Transition services, begin not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined by the IEP Team, and are updated annually. The IEP must include measurable post-secondary goals based upon age appropriate assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills and the transition services (including the course of study) needed to help the child in reaching those goals. (34 CFR 300 43(a) 120 U.S.C. 1401 (34)

Federal and State Legislation Aligned with Transition

California College and Career Indicators

College and Career Readiness is a growing concern nationally. The workplace is changing. Opportunities are changing as technology and artificial intelligence impact all aspects of work. Students are required to master academic skills and acquire technical skills and pursue post-secondary education and training in order to prepare for careers of the future.

The State of California has identified strategies to measure college and career readiness.

These College and Career Readiness measures are based on the number of high school graduates who are prepared for college or a career. For more information, visit It is a helpful tool for schools to monitor progress and identify students who are struggling to achieve college and career readiness.

The following measures are approved as indicating college or career readiness:

  • Career Technical Education Pathway Completion
  • Grade 11 Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments in ELA and mathematics
  • Advanced Placement Exams
  • International Baccalaureate Exams
  • College Credit Course (formerly called Dual Enrollment)
  • a-g Completion
  • State Seal of Biliteracy
  • Military Science/Leadership

Additional Career Indicators

  • Workforce Readiness (Strategic Skills) Certificate Program Completion
  • Food Handler Certification Program Completion
  • Pre-Apprenticeship Certification Program Completion
  • Pre-Apprenticeship Program (non-certified) Completion
  • State or Federal Job Program Completion (Examples: Job Corps, Youth Build)

In addition to the indicators listed above, students with IEPs can also document career readiness through:

  • Work Ability I Work-Based Learning Program Completion
  • Transition Partnership Program and Work-based Learning Completion
  • Student wages for try-out employment
  • Placement in Workability I subsidized competitive integrated employment
  • Employment—unsubsidized competitive integrated employment
  • Apprenticeship
  • Internships (paid or unpaid)
  • Community based vocational instruction


Start Early

IDEA mandates transition starts by age 16 and earlier if appropriate. Research tells us we must start preparing for transition much earlier, at least at the Pre-School/Kindergarten level if students will have sufficient time to learn about themselves and make informed choices about their post-secondary goals.

We need to begin earlier than high school to develop academic, technical, and employability skills. When do children begin communication skills, interpersonal skills, teamwork, and problem solving? Answer: PreK-grade 3. These are the skills that are required to be employed as adults.

Inclusion in Regular Education enhances the opportunity to develop academic skills.

The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESEA) emphasizes equal access to education, high academic standards and accountability. It recognizes that students with disabilities are general education students first. Increasingly, students with IEPS are included in general education classes.

Inclusion in general education requires students with disabilities to have access to general education curriculum and be engaged in regular education classes with peers without disabilities. It requires adoption of differentiated instruction, universal design for learning, and effective collaboration between general education and special education services to ensure adequate support services are provided.

There is significant value to inclusive education.

For Students with Disabilities

  • Higher rates of academic performance
  • More satisfied, diverse friendships
  • Less disruptive behavior
  • Improved communication skills
  • Better post-secondary outcomes

For Students without Disabilities

  • Greater gains in math and reading
  • Reduced fear of differences
  • Greater empathy
  • Increased social cognition
  • Improved self confidence


Person Centered Planning

Person-centered planning is a process of discovering how an individual wants to live his life, learning his strengths and abilities, determining the supports he requires to live that life, and then creating a plan to make that life possible. The focus is on the person, not on the disability or the services available.

Services That Lead To Outcomes For Students With Disabilities

National Technical Assistance Center on Secondary Transition

Independent Living
Career Awareness
Career and Technical Education
Community Experiences
High School Diploma Status
Goal Setting
Inclusion in General Education
Interagency Collaboration
Occupational Courses
Paid Employment Work Experience
Parent Expectations
Parental Involvement
Program of Study
Self Care/Independent Living
Self Determination/Self Advocacy
(New) Self Realization
Social Skills
Student Support
(New) Technology Skills
Transition Program
Travel Skills
Work Study

State Performance Plan

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires each state to develop a state performance plan/annual performance report (SPP/APR) that evaluates the state’s efforts to implement the requirements andpurposes of the IDEA and describes how the state will improve its implementation.

The California State Performance Plan

  1. Increase Graduation Rate
  2. Reduce Drop Out Rate
  3. Increase Participation and Proficiency Performance of Students with IEPs on statewide assessments
  4. Reduce Suspension / Expulsion Rate
  5. Education Environment
  6. Preschool Environment
  7. Preschool Outcomes
  8. Increase Parent Involvement
  9. Disproportionate representation of racial/ethnic groups
  10. Disproportionate representation of disability groups
  11. Child Find
  12. Early Childhood Transition
  13. Secondary Transition in the IEP
  14. Post-School Outcomes
  15. Resolutions
  16. Mediations
  17. State Systemic Improvement Plan

IDEA requires each state to develop a performance plan and evaluate progress toward achieving the goals listed on the plan.

The State of California’s Performance Plan lists four indicators that specifically related to secondary transition:

Indicator 1
Increase Percent of youth with IEPs graduating with a regular diploma

Indicator 2
Decrease the drop-out rate

Indicator 13
Achieve compliance with federal guidelines on the IEP

Indicator 14
Improve outcomes in employment, education/training, and independent living

The California State Performance Plan Indicator 13:

Schools are required to document if the IEP meets the elements of Indicator 13. In order to be compliant the answer should be “yes” to each of the following questions. This tool ensures the IEP is written as required by federal regulations.

  1. Are there appropriate measurable post-secondary goals in the areas of education & training, employment, and as needed, independent living skills?
  2. Are the post-secondary goals updated annually?
  3. Is there evidence that the measurable post-secondary goal(s) were based on age-appropriate transition assessment?
  4. Are there transition services in the IEP that will reasonably enable the student to meet his/her post-secondary goal?
  5. Do transition services include courses of study that will reasonably enable the student to meet his or her post-secondary goal(s)?
  6. Is (are) there annual IEP goals related to the student’s transition service needs?
  7. Is there evidence that the student was invited to the IEP team meeting where transition services were discussed?
  8. If appropriate, is there evidence that a representative of any participating agency was invited to the IEP team meeting with prior consent of the parent or student who has achieved the age of majority?

Transition: Sample IEP

  1. Post-secondary Goals
    • Education and training
    • Employment
    • Independent Living
  2. Update Annually
  3. Age appropriate assessment
  4. Transition services
  5. Course of study
  6. Annual goals directly related to post-secondary goals
  7. Student Invited to the IEP
  8. Representative of agency that provides post-school transition support invited to the IEP.

Remember, it is necessary to provide documentation in the student record of:

  • Assessments
  • Invitations to student
  • Invitation to agencies or justification for not inviting agencies.

Assessments drive the IEP and document the need for services.

Reasons agencies are not invited or don’t attend with that justify the indication that it is not applicable:

  • Agencies that will pay for or provide services listed in the IEP are not available.
  • Parent or student at age of majority refuses to consent.
  • It is too early to determine the student will need agency involvement.

Some agencies may not attend the IEP, but do provide services. These services need to be documented in the student’s record.

What do our students do after they leave high school?

SPP Indicator 14

There is an increasing emphasis on “outcomes” that answer this question:
There is a mandate to conduct follow-up surveys to verify the percentage of students who are no longer in secondary education, had IEPs at the time they left, and were pursuing post-secondary education and training and/or employment goals.

Revised Definitions of post-school outcomes

Enrolled in higher education within one year of leaving high school.
Youth have enrolled on a full- or part-time basis in a: community college (2-year program) or college/university (4- or more year program) for at least one complete term since leaving high school.
Enrolled in higher education or competitively employed within one year of leaving high school.
Youth have worked for pay at or above the minimum wage in a setting with others who are non-disabled for a period of 20 hours a week for at least 90 days at any time in the year since leaving high school. This includes military employment.
Enrolled in other postsecondary education or training program; or competitively employed or in some other employment within one year of leaving high school
Youth have been enrolled on a full or part-time basis for at least one complete term at any time in the year since leaving high school in an education or training program (e.g., Job Corps, adult education, workforce development program, vocational technical school which is less than a 2-year program).
Some other employment
Youth have worked for pay or been self-employed for a period of at least 90 days at any time in the year since leaving high school. This includes working in a family business (e.g., farm, store, fishing, ranching, catering services etc.).

Source: National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (

How are we doing?

Students with Disabilities
Students without Disabilities
Earn a diploma (2019)
Unemployment Rate (Ages 20-24)
College and Career Ready
Enroll in University
Enroll in Community College

Indicator 17 State Systemic Improvement Plan

Research and experience tell us that students who stay in school and graduate are more likely to be able to work and continue their education. For students with IEPs, quality IEPs written to meet the mandate AND the spirit of transition have a higher likelihood of helping students prepare for their future. Finally, when well written IEPS are implemented using research-best best practices, students are even more likely to achieve positive outcomes. The CA School Dashboard provides a data to measure outcomes at the state, and local level.

Indicator 17 as defined by California Department of Education, 2016, focuses on implementation of the State Systemic Improvement Plan that has developed a new accountability system that aligns local resources with student needs to support continuous improvement.
The goal is to create a coherent educational system for All students and develop a statewide system for support.

The current State Systemic Improvement Plan focuses on improving academic achievement outcomes for students with disabilities and who are also English Learners, foster youth, and/or students who are eligible for free and reduced price meals. A priority of this work is to set the foundation for one coherent system of education in which students receive the support they need in the most inclusive environment.


— 1A Write appropriate, measurable post-secondary goals (IDEA 2004 Section 614(d)(I(A)VIII)

Post-secondary goals are statements of what the student will achieve after leaving high school. The goals must be stated in terms that can be measured. Words like “hopes to, plans to” are not measurable.

What should measurable post-secondary goals look like?

Use this formula to state the goal:

After high school I will  ____________________________________  ____________________________________
 Behavior  where/how

Example: After high school I will enroll at Shasta College to earn an Early Childhood Education Credential.

These post-secondary goal statements are examples of behaviors that are based on IDEA guidelines. Goal statements in the IEP need to reflect the student’s personal plan.

Post-secondary education / training goals (Required) After High School, I will…

  • Enroll in a college or university to study _______________________.
  • Earn an occupational certificate in ___________________________.
  • Enroll in vocational training in ______________. (cosmetology, pet grooming, heavy equipment operation, etc.)
  • Enter the military for training in _______________________.
  • Enter an apprenticeship in the field of ______________________________.
  • Complete on the job training for ____________________________________.
  • Enroll in adult education

Employment Goals (Required)

  • Get a competitive job – work full time / part time (specify employment desired)
  • Get a job that is integrated competitive employment (specify employment desired)
  • Start a business – Entrepreneurship (specify business desired)
  • Do volunteer work in the community (specify volunteer position desired)

Independent Living (As Needed)

  • Live independently
  • Live with family, roommates
  • Live independently with supportive services
  • Live in group home
  • Manage finances, household
  • Access community – independently
  • Use Public transportation
  • Participate in leisure and recreation activities in the community

— 1B. Best Practices:

Writing appropriate measurable post-secondary goals

When measurable post-secondary goals are the core of the IEP, the educational plan makes sense to students, parents, teachers, counselors and transition agency partners.

The IEP is based on student’s goals. It is important that students learn and apply a decision-making process.

Set the expectation that students have the right and responsibility to work if they can. Focus the IEP on the student’s plan for their future. Engage students in decision-making process beginning at the latest, in middle school.

Focus on the career/employment goal first. Utilize job information (O’NET) to validate education and training requirements and the skills needed for successful employment.

Incorporate career information into the IEP related to education requirements, and skills and abilities defined in CA Career Zone and My Next Move occupation information.

Validate goal statements annually using annual career / transition assessment data. Encourage students to present their goals through authentic assessments.

Engage students in developing their individualized learning plans, a planning tool developed by the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD-youth.)

Goals change and should move from general to specific as students mature.

— 2A. Mandates: Update Goals Annually

Goals need to be updated annually.

Goals may change as students gain experience, opportunities, training and work experience. Post-secondary goals evolve from general to specific as students grow and mature.

— 2B. Best Practice: Update goals annually

As students mature, and have new experiences, their goals mature and need to be reviewed annually through an assessment process.

The review process may verify goals and services remain the same- or new goals will be set by the student. The goals need annual review to validate or update them to reflect current goals.

— 3A. Mandates: Goals are based on age appropriate assessments

IDEA 2004 stipulates: "The IEP must include measurable post-secondary goals based upon age appropriate assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills and the transition services (including the course of study) needed to help the child in reaching those goals".

Federal IDEA Guidance: Each year, the transition assessments should be revisited in a more specific manner, targeting the student’s development. For students in grades nine and ten, a career exploration measure or interest inventory is typically satisfactory. For an older student, a vocational skills assessment is more appropriate. Assessment should address all three components of transition- employment, post-secondary education and training, and independent living. Assessment information may be summarized on the Transition Page of the IEP or the section that describes present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.

Basic assessment strategies include interviews, the discovery process, interest surveys, computerized information systems, portfolios, observation and interviews. There are an array of free tools and resources available. Transition assessment includes career/vocational assessments and an evaluation of other transition issues (academic skills, readiness for transition, life skills, resources, and eligibility for support systems). Assessments should document the entire transition IEP. They should validate post-secondary goals, identify needed transition services, and most importantly, help students and their families set goals and plan their future.

  • Assessments should be reviewed annually to form the basis of all aspects of the transition plan.
  • As students move closer to leaving high school, it is important to address issues related to readiness for transition, availability of resources and eligibility for service

— 3B. Best Practices: Goals are based on age-appropriate transition assessments

Person-Centered Planning is the key to quality transition planning and preparation. Assessment should lead to self-discovery.

  • Who am I? Who are my allies?
  • What are my unique talents and interests? What do I do (hobbies, recreation, interests)
  • What do I want in life now and in the future?
  • What are the main barriers to getting what I want from school and my community?
  • What are my options for achieving my goals?

And lead to gaining personal insight that leads to informed choices!

Hints for choosing career / vocational assessments:

Is it easy for the student to use? Is it age/grade appropriate? Can students relate to language? Does it stereotype career choices? Is it easy to read and interpret? (Does it assess interests or reading skills)? Does it provide feedback that leads to reflection? Does it enhance insights? Does it reflect the current and emerging job market and employment skills?

Some of the Most Common and Easily Accessed Free Assessment Resources

— 4A. Mandates:

Transition services

The term “transition services” means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability. IEPs are required to list transition services that will be provided to help youth achieve their transition goals.

  • Transition services begin not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined by the IEP Team. Annually updated IEPs must include measurable post-secondary goals based upon age appropriate assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills and the transition services (including the course of study) needed to help the child in reaching those goals.
  • IDEA defines the services as instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
  • The Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) mandates that the Department of Rehabilitation, American Job Centers and Education agencies work together to provide Pre-Employment Training Services to youth and students with disabilities. (
  • The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation has verified pre-employment transition services should be included as a transition service.

Transition Services
Pre-Employment Transition Services
Specialized Academic Instruction
Workplace Readiness Training
College Awareness Preparation
Counseling on Post-Secondary Education
Career Awareness/Planning
Job Exploration Training
Self-Advocacy Training
Work Experience
Work Based Learning
Job Coaching
Agency Linkage
Travel Training
Other Related Services

Examples of Work Based Learning

  • Career Awareness
    • Speakers in classrooms
    • Career Fairs
  • Career Exploration
    • Job Shadowing
    • Interviews
  • Career Development
    • Internships / Apprenticeships
    • Volunteering
  • Work Experience
  • Employment
  Transition Services related to College and Career Indicators may also be considered.
  • Workforce Readiness (Strategic Skills) Certificate Program Completion
  • Food Handler Certification Program Completion
  • Pre-Apprenticeship Certification Program Completion
  • Pre-Apprenticeship Non-certified Program completion
  • State or Federal Job Program Completion (Example: Job Corps, Youth Build)

— 4B. Best Practices: Transition services

The coordinated set of activities delineates who will do what this year to assist the student in achieving the annual goals to support movement toward the post-secondary outcomes.

Evidence-Based Best practices tell us:

    • It is recommended that there should be at least one transition service listed that corresponds or connects to each post-secondary outcome; and
    • he student’s IEP should document transition services that focus on improving the academic and functional achievement of the student to facilitate their movement from school to post-school and,
    • Transition services include academic and functional activities, supports and services.

As we review language in recent legislation that directly relates to transition (WIOA, ESSA, Higher Education Opportunity Act) and make connections to IDEA, the following themes emerge:

Community Experiences:

Training that takes place in the natural environment focused on social skills, domestic skills, accessing public transportation and on the job training.

Inclusion in General Education:

Students who participate in regular education placements, and in career technical and occupation specific classes, are more likely to be engaged in post-high school education, employment and independent living.

Industry certifications broaden opportunities for employment for students.

Career-Technical Training through career pathways that lead to high pay, high demand jobs. Participation in internships and apprenticeships. Earning Stackable Credentials enhance employment opportunities.

Early College experiences through dual enrollment enhances the transition from high school to postsecondary education and training.

Paid Employment / Work Experience:

Working provides an opportunity to apply learning and develop college and career readiness, knowledge and skills (academic skills, technical skills, higher order thinking skills and applied workplace skills) that lead to employment.

Connections: Workplace mentors, family support system, interdisciplinary and interagency.

Collaboration. Local Partnership Agreements that define roles, referral processes, service and agreements to participate as members of the IEP team greatly enhances movement from school to adult services. Source of Information: A Transition Guide, May 2017

— 5A. Mandates: Course of study

Courses of study are defined as a multi-year description of coursework to achieve the student’s desired post-school goals, from the student’s current to anticipated exit year. (NSTTAC Indicator 13 Guide)

Based on a review of legislation and California Education Code (EC) that inform the course of study for the state of California, and, with the goal of making sure we do not create liabilities for any students, the California Secondary Transition Leadership Team has recommended:

    1. The course of study must intentionally and explicitly reflect each student’s secondary completion goals and post-secondary transition goals.
    2. For students who plan to earn a high school diploma the student must meet State and district graduation requirements.
    3. Elective classes or those meeting the State and district graduation requirements such as performing and visual arts, foreign language (language other than English including American Sign Language), and career technical classes should reflect the individual student’s career interests and post-secondary goals.
    4. The course of study should be sufficiently generic to be portable across district and/or state lines.
    5. Student progress toward achieving a high school diploma or certificate of completion should be monitored at least once annually with consideration given to attendance, grades, credit status and other educational performance measures. The course of study should also be reviewed at least once annually for all students.
    6. It should be recognized that, to the maximum extent possible, attainment of a high school diploma should be recognized as partially meeting post-secondary education and employment goals. (Some employers require a diploma to meet their minimum requirement when considering job applicants).
    7. It should be emphasized that the course of study and attainment of a diploma or certificate are not sufficient to document the provision of transition services as mandated in IDEA.
    8. For students whose course of study will lead to certificates that are alternatives to a high school diploma, the certificate should intentionally and explicitly reflect each student’s secondary completion goals and post-secondary goals. A course of study listing classes is required for all students with an IEP. The citations in Education Code (EC)

EC Section 56390 define the criteria for earning a certificate of completion as:

  • Completion of a prescribed alternative course of study.
  • Meet IEP goals and objectives.
  • Complete a prescribed course of study.
  • EC Section 56026 – Age Out of the K-12 system at age 22.
  • Courses of study that lead to certificates of completion should include annual IEP goals that explicitly describe evidence-based instructional practices and predictors with appropriate criterion measures of performance / achievement that when attained, demonstrate progress toward achieving post-secondary goals.
  • The Certificate of Completion is defined by the LEA. It is increasingly important that the certificate is meaningful for the next environment (work, home, community and college). Some programs have created “Work Ready Certificates”. A diploma requires a series of classes. The certificate has the same mandate to list a set of classes or instructional units/ competencies that must be completed to earn a certificate. (Student Succeeds Act suggest that students who participate in standards-based alternative assessments may qualify for alternative high school diplomas. Further clarification through regulations are required)

— 5B. Best Practice: Course of study

The course of study defines the multi-year set of classes in the pathway to secondary goals (graduation, diploma, and certificate) that begins in middle school and culminates the last year in school. It defines what courses the student will complete from now to the end of K-12 education. If the Post-secondary Education Goal is to enroll at a college or university, the post-secondary institution entrance requirements influence the course of study. This chart depicts the options being used by local Boards to establish graduation requirements. EC 51225.3

CTE Path
Social Science
Visual / Performing Art
Foreign Language
Career Technical

Current (2018) Diploma requirements are based on local education agency decisions. The State defines a mandatory course of study. Students who earn an Adult Education Diploma may meet state course requirements. The California Accountability Data system (CALPADS) stipulates two paths to a diploma:

  1. Meet A-G Course Requirements
  2. Meet CTE Pathway Course requirements, which are based on the State Course of study with an emphasis on career technical education pathway courses.

OR The local governing board of the LEA with the active involvement of parents, administrators, teachers, and pupils, shall adopt alternative means for pupils to complete the prescribed course of study, which may include:

  • Practical demonstration of skills and competencies
  • Supervised work experience or other outside school experience
  • Career technical education classes offered in high schools
  • Courses offered by regional occupational centers or programs
  • Interdisciplinary study
  • Independent study
  • Credit earned at a postsecondary institution

These student populations may qualify for state diploma requirements or alternative means.

  • Foster Youth
  • Military Family member
  • English Language Learner
  • Alternative Ed. Participant
  • Homeless youth
  • Adjudicated youth

Requirements for graduation and specified alternative modes for completing the prescribed course of study shall be made available to pupils, parents, and the public. The University of California and the California State University systems have established a uniform minimum set of courses required for admission as a freshman.

  • Electives are defined as Foreign Language (a language that is not English), Visual/Performing Arts, and Career-Technical Education classes and Regional Occupation Programs/Classes.
  • The course of study may also include extracurricular activities that relate to post-secondary goals (yearbook, school newspaper, athletics, student leadership organizations (Future Farmers of America, Future Business Leaders of America, Key Clubs, etc).
  • Career Technical Pathways are defined in the LEA’s Carl Perkins Plan. Perkins V mandates inclusion of students with disabilities in career pathways. It also recommends programs beginning at the middle school.
  • Grading systems should be defined as increasing numbers are students with IEPs are included in general education classes.

The Certificate of Completion is NOT Equivalent to the High School Diploma. It does not meet Employment qualifications if the employer requires a diploma. It does not qualify students for financial aid for continuing education, if the source of financial aid requires a diploma. There is an exception for students with significant intellectual disabilities who do not earn a diploma who are transitioning from K-12 education to colleges and universities that have programs to meet their needs.

A high school diploma is a ticket to work, to postsecondary education, to training, and to financial aid.


— 6A. Mandates: Annual IEP goals

Federal Guideline

For each area where a post-secondary measurable outcome/goal is identified, a measurable, annual IEP goal must be developed.

IDEA defines annual goals in Regulations: Part 300 / D / 300.320 / a / 2 / i A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to– (A) Meet the child’s needs that result from the child’s disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and (B) Meet each of the child’s other educational needs that result from the child’s disability;

Functional skills are defined as motor skills, social interaction and communication, personal living skills, and community living skills) and on an overall measure of independence. Source: The Academic Achievement and Functional Performance of Youth With Disabilities A Report From the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) 2006

Annual goals may be listed in the IEP in the section entitled Annual Goals and Benchmarks and referenced by number on the Transition pages of the IEP.

The Annual IEP Goal identifies what will be worked on this year to build the student’s skills in achieving the post-school outcomes.

A Transition Plan has two types of goals:

Post-Secondary Goals
Measurable Annual Goals
Measurable statements of what a student will achieve leaving high school
What will be worked on this year to help build the student’s skills in achieving the post-secondary outcome?
Post = AFTER Secondary = HIGH SCHOOL
Annual = EACH May be a statement in the transition plan of the academic goals

A recent supreme court ruling (Endrew F. v Douglas School District, December 2017) stipulated that to meet its substantive obligation under IDEA, a school must offer an IEP that is reasonably calculated to enable the child to make progress appropriate in light of the the child’s circumstances. The Court emphasized that every child should have the chance to meet challenging objectives. The Department of Education interprets this to mean that each child must be offered an IEP designed to provide access to instructional strategies and curricula aligned to both challenging State academic standards and ambitious goals, based on the unique circumstances of the child. (Source United States Department of Education December 7, 2017 Questions and Answers on U.S. Supreme Court Case Decision Endrew F. v Douglas School District

— 6B. Best Practices: Annual goals

The annual goals or instructional objectives define what the student is reasonably expected to learn this year in order to achieve the post-secondary goal.

The formula for writing annual goals is SMART (Specific Measurable Action Realistic/Relevant Time Limited

As students with IEPs are integrated into general education classes, these are commonly used terms that relate to teaching and learning. California Ed Code references these terms in the areas of assessment and teaching specific student populations, such as English Learners, as well as students with disabilities.

Resources that help teachers align transition topics to academic standards are: College and Career Readiness Standards and Research Identified Transition Skills.

Universal Access/ Design: Universal Design for Learning (UDL) means a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that (A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and (B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient. Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008

Differentiated Instruction: A teaching / instructional strategy that is designed to meet the needs of all students by factoring students’ individual learning styles and levels of readiness first before designing a lesson plan. Research on the effectiveness of differentiation shows this method benefits a wide range of students, from those with learning disabilities to those who are considered high ability.

Multi-tiered system of support: MTSS is an integrated, comprehensive framework that focuses on CA academic standards, core instruction, differentiated learning, student-centered learning, individualized student needs, and the alignment of systems necessary for all students’ academic, behavioral, and social success. (See page 36)

Elements of Accessibility for all are integrated into testing systems (CA California Student Assessment Accessibility)

Accommodations: "Accommodation” is any variation in the assessment environment or process that does not fundamentally alter what the test measures or affect the comparability of scores. “Accommodations” may include variations in scheduling, setting, aids, equipment, and presentation format.

Modifications: A modification is any variation in the assessment environment or process that fundamentally alters what the test measures or affects the comparability of test scores.

There are lots of resources that help us define annual goals. They include:

  • California Career Center
  • Common Core Anchor Standards, O’NET / My Next Move Blooms Digital Taxonomy
  • Career Clusters Essential Standards, Smart Balance Assessment, Partnership for 21st Century
  • Freshman Transition Standards (Georgetown University) Standards for Career Ready Practice
  • Life Skills Inventories, Career-Technical Education foundation standards
  • The Zarrow Center for Learning website includes transition assessment and goal generator and self-determination tools.

— 7A. Compliance Requires: Student participation in the IEP

IDEA requires that the IEP is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences and interests. Regulations: Part 300 / D / 300.320

Indicator 13 requires that the student is invited to the IEP.

The public agency shall invite the child with a disability to attend his or her IEP meeting if the purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the post-secondary goals for the child and the transition services needed to assist the child in reaching those goals. 34CFR300.37(b)(1)

If the child does not attend the IEP Team meeting the public agency must take other steps to ensure that the child’s preferences and interests are considered. 34CFR 300.321(b)(2).

Transition planning is about the student’s movement from high school to post-school life. It is based on the student’s plans for the future. Therefore the student’s input is essential. The needs and desires of the student and family are the core of the planning process.

The student may need preparation and practice in participating in the meeting.

There are five levels of participation in the IEP (Source: Transition Coalition)

  1. Student input provided indirectly based on a questionnaire or survey.
  2. Passive Observer (in the room, avoids the conversation).
  3. Reluctant participant (responds to direct questions).
  4. Self-Advocate (practices self-advocacy skills).
  5. Leader (demonstrates leadership skills in the IEP).

Student Behaviors Associated with Post-School Employment and Education

  1. Strengths/Limitations: Express and describe personal strengths and limitations; assistance needs
  2. Disability Awareness: Ability to describe disability and accommodation needs.
  3. Persistence: work toward goal until it is accomplished; or after facing adversity.
  4. Interaction with others: maintain friendships, work collaboratively with small groups, or teams.
  5. Goal Setting: Understand importance of setting goals; set post-school goals that match interests.
  6. Employment: Express desire to work, demonstrate job readiness, complete training, get a job.
  7. Student involvement in IEP: Discuss goals with IEP team, actively lead the IEP. Source: Transition Education Fast Facts, Council for Exceptional Children (2013)

It is important that the student develop knowledge of their disabilities and effective accommodations.

The stigma of having a disability is so strong that approximately 60% of students who had IEPs during high school indicated that they did not have a disability the year after they exited high school. (Newman, Wagner, Cameto, & Knokey, 2009).

— 7B. Best Practices: Student participation in the IEP

Self -Advocacy and Self Determination are essential skills for students with disabilities. They are especially important as agencies that provide post-secondary transition support emphasize person-centered planning.

There are four ways students can be involved in the IEP process:

  • Planning the IEP includes laying the foundation for the meeting by identifying strengths, needs, establishing goals, considering options and preparing resources to use at the IEP meeting.
  • Drafting the IEP provides practice in self-advocacy skills – includes having students write a draft of their IEP that reflects their strengths and needs as well as interests and preferences.
  • Participating in the IEP Meeting: Demonstrate self-advocacy skills. Student has the opportunity to share interests, preferences and needs and participate in the process of developing the transition plan.
  • Implementing the IEP: Evaluate their own progress toward achieving goals.

Self-Advocacy Understanding your strengths and needs, identifying your personal goals, knowing your legal rights and responsibilities, and communicating these to others.

Characteristics of Self Determined People
  • Awareness of personal preferences, interests, strengths and limitations
  • Ability to identify wants and needs
  • Make choices based on preferences, interests, wants and needs
  • Ability to consider a variety of options and anticipate consequences for their decisions
  • Ability to evaluate decisions based on the outcomes of previous decisions and revise future decisions accordingly
  • Ability to set goals and work towards them
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Striving for independence while recognizing interdependence with others
  • Self-advocacy skills
  • Independent performance skills and ability to adjust performance
  • Persistence
  • Ability to assume responsibility for actions and decisions
  • Self Confidence
From A Practical Guide for Teaching Self-Determination, Sharon Field, Jim Martin, et al, Reston VA, Council for Exceptional Children

Employ self-advocacy strategies to prepare students to participate actively in the IEP.

  • Inventory your strengths – areas to improve or learn, goals and choices for learning or needed accommodations. Students complete an inventory sheet they can use at the IEP meetings.
  • Provide inventory information Use inventory, portfolio, presentation video, etc.
  • Listen and respond – learn the proper times to listen and respond.
  • Ask questions – teach students to ask questions when they don’t understand something.
  • State your goals – students list the goals they would like to see in their IEP.
  • Use the IEP as an opportunity to develop self-advocacy and leadership skills.

— 8A. Mandates: An invitation to representatives of any participating agencies to attend the IEP team meeting

IDEA 2004 stipulates: If appropriate, a representative of a participating agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services should be invited to the IEP team meeting with the prior consent of the parent (or student who has reached the age of majority).

Documentation of the parental consent to invite the outside agency should be maintained. Documentation of the invitation to the outside agency should also be maintained.

The rational used to determine agency involvement is not applicable (NA) should be included:

  • Refusal by parent or student who has reached the age of majority to consent to agency participation.
  • The IEP does not listed transition services that are likely to be paid for or provided by an outside agency.
  • It is too early to determine if there is a need for outside agency involvement.

The GAO Report entitled STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES Better Federal Coordination Could Lessen Challenges in the Transition from High School From the July 2012 report to the Ranking Member, Committee on Education and the Workforce, House of Representatives

Students with disabilities face several challenges accessing federally funded programs that can provide transition services as they leave high school for post-secondary education or the workforce. These include difficulty navigating multiple programs that are not always coordinated; possible delays in service as they wait to be served by adult programs; limited access to transition services; a lack of adequate information or awareness on the part of parents, students, and service providers of available programs that may provide transition services after high school; and a lack of preparedness for post-secondary education or employment. Prior GAO work identified many of these same challenges, which is indicative of the longstanding and persistent nature of the challenges facing students with disabilities as they transition out of high school.

The primary reasons it is difficult to manage and prepare for transition cited in the report are:

  • Lack of coordination of services among programs: Schools are required to invite agencies that provide transition services to IEP meetings, but agencies are not required to attend.
  • Delays in services because of differing definitions of disabilities and eligibility criteria; differing assessment requirements and inability to share information.
  • Lack of adequate information and awareness of options after high school.
  • Inadequate preparation for post-secondary education and the workforce- driven by the emphasis on academic testing causing less time for career-technical and life skills education.

Recently enacted WIOA legislation addresses the connections between transition services and Education, Department of Rehabilitation, and American Job Centers (One Stop Centers).

— 8B. Best Practices: Parent/family and interagency collaboration

It is important to note that the IEP Team membership includes families, who play a critical role in the transition process. They are typically the coach, mentor, and advocate when the student leaves school. They need to be encouraged to actively engage in the IEP process and the development of post-school goals. They need information and support to access community agencies and resources that support youth when they leave school.

A recent GAO report demonstrates the challenges students and families face as they try to navigate agencies after they leave high school. Agencies require students apply for services. They have a more narrow focus on transition than the K-12 system. They are allowed to have waiting lists. They also have different definitions of disabilities. Services can vary widely within state systems based on the community resources. Linking youth to agencies while in school make connections easier.

This chart demonstrates some of the issues.

Convene your local Community of Practice – collaborate with the agencies that provide transition services after high school.

Independent Living
For All
Department of Labor
  • Employment Dev. Dept.
  • WIOA / American Job Centers
  • California Conservation Corps
  • Job Corps
Community College/ Universities Military Technical Training Adult Education Regional Occupation Program Short term Certification Community Education
Social Services Public Transportation City and County Housing Health Departments
Disability Specific
Department of Rehabilitation Regional Centers Vendor programs
Community College-Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS)
Independent Living Centers/ programs Dial a Ride/Ride on Demand Social Security-SSI

  • Partner with agencies in advance of IEP- with parent and student permission.
  • Form local / regional Community of Practice or Partnership Groups to address transition.
  • Invite agencies to the classroom. Offer Informational workshops, meetings for parents.
  • Collaborate with agencies to create a Local Partnership Agreement.
  • Create community resource maps and information for students and parents to navigate transition.
  • Communicate with transition destinations-Learn what students need to know and do to be ready for the next environment.

Collaboration among agencies requires effective communication. It is important to hear all perspectives. These are some common terms that mean different things to different audiences:

When you say I Hear
Course of Study
Post-secondary Goals
Self Determination
Where do I go???
Not Another Test!!!
I am not sure what my options are.
If I talk, will they listen?
I am in charge of my future?
What is out there for my child?
Not another test – more test anxiety! Will it help or discourage?
What classes lead to graduation?
Are these goals realistic?
I want them to listen to me too.
Where do I get the information to guide my child to ask for what he or she needs?
General Ed.
College and career readiness.
Academic Finals Smarter Balance
Education/ Career Plan
College / University
Pick a university Ask for help
I will guide students to make choices.
Special ed.
Post-secondary education and training; employment.
Psycho-ed test Academic test Transition and Career surveys life skills evaluation
Course of study
Goals related to post-secondary education training, work, Independent living
Know your disability Ask for accommodations
Use your initiative to plan your future and share your plans.
Persistence – Complete your degree or certificate Transfer from community college
Placement tests Eligibility for DSPS Finals Test for license.
Education Plan
Students need to know what classes they want and ask for DSPS services they need.
Responsibility for career and education planning. They must use initiative to ask for help.
Department of Rehabilitation
Vocational eval. Work Readiness Situational Assessment
What classes or programs relate to employment goal?
Employment Goal
Can they describe their disability and state their employment goal?
Set realistic goals for themselves and advocate for their needs.
Developmental Disabilities Services
Integrated competitive employment Quality life
Eligibility for services Specialized assessments
Classes to earn diploma or certificate
Do you want to leave high school with a diploma or certificate?
Request services when developing a program plan.
State goals for the future, Make choices about services to meet needs.
Responsible, Productive Employee with skills to do the job.
On the job evaluation.
What training does they employee need?
Minimum qualifications for jobs.
Speak up. Ask for what you need. Disclose your disability.
Plan ahead. Complete education and training to advance.
America Job Centers
Verification of eligibility
Employment plan
Express your goals and ask for what you need.
What services are provided? Which ones meet my needs?

Transition Service Codes

Many service codes for transition services are 800 codes in SEIS/CALPADS. Students who struggle with activities daily living may need direct instruction in areas such as hygiene, cooking, budgeting, etc. In some cases “Specialized Academic Instruction (code 330)” may be the appropriate service to support a measurable postsecondary goal in independent living, even though it is not an 800 code.

800 CALPADS Codes available in SEIS are:

College Awareness Preparation
The result of acts that promote and increase student learning about higher education opportunities, information and options that are available including, but not limited to, career planning, course prerequisites, admission eligibility and financial aid.
Vocational Assessment, Counseling, Guidance, and Career Assessment
"Organized educational programs that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment and may include provision for work experience, job coaching, development and/or placement, and situational assessment. This includes career counseling to assist student in assessing his/her aptitudes, abilities, and interests in order to make realistic career decisions. (Title 5 §3051.14)."
Career Awareness
Transition services include a provision in paragraph (1)(c)(vi), self-advocacy, career planning, and career guidance. There is a need for coordination between this provision and the Perkins Act to ensure that students with disabilities in middle schools will be able to access vocational education funds. (34 CFR-§300.29).
Work Experience Education
Organized educational programs that are directly related to the preparation of individuals for paid or unpaid employment, or for additional preparation for a career requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree. (34 CFR 300.26).
Job Coaching
A service that provides assistance and guidance to an employee who may be experiencing difficulty with one or more aspects of the daily job tasks and functions. The service is provided by a job coach who is highly successful, skilled, and trained on the job who can determine how the employee that is experiencing difficulty learns best and formulate a training plan to improve job performance.
A sustained coaching relationship between a student and teacher through on-going involvement and offers support, guidance, encouragement, and assistance as the learner encounters challenges with respect to a particular area such as acquisition of job skills. Mentoring can be either formal as in planned, structured instruction or informal that occurs naturally through friendship, counseling and collegiality in a casual, unplanned way.
Agency Linkages (referral and placement)
Service coordination and case management that facilitates the linkage of individualized education programs under this part and individualized family service plans under part C with individualized service plans under multiple Federal and State programs, such as Title I of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (vocational rehabilitation), Title XIX of the Social Security Act (Medicaid), and Title XVI of the Social Security Act (supplemental security income). (34 CFR §613).
Travel Training (includes mobility training)
Orientation and mobility services — (i) Means services provided to blind or visually impaired children by qualified personnel to enable those students to attain systematic orientation to and safe movement within their environments in school, home, and community.
Other Transition Services
These services may include program coordination, case management and meetings, and crafting linkages between schools and between schools and postsecondary agencies.

Do we need to complete an assessment plan when transition and career exploration are integrated into the class curriculum?
If integrated into the class curriculum and the data is collected on all students using criterion referenced assessments, an assessment plan is not required. IF a student is assessed individually to gather information then an assessment plan is required especially since most students complete individualized assessments during the annual ITP update.
Are related services required to be listed on the IEP or are they offered as needed? Is a transition IEP required to list related services?
Yes, transition related services are a mandated component of the IEP. Is is the responsibility of the IEP team to consider what related services are needed and detail them in the IEP.
Can transition requirements related to assessment, course of study and post-secondary goals be provided through a General Education class?
Yes, general education activities can meet the transition requirements as long as they are documented in the student’s IEP. General education staff should be collaborating and receiving direct support and communication from the IEP team.

Graduation Options

The term “regular high school diploma” is defined as a diploma fully aligned to grade-level standards. Students typically complete mandated academic courses and must earn a minimum grade point average to receive a standard high school diploma. California Education Code 51225.3 defines the mandated high school courses needed to earn a regular high school diploma.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation notes that the vast majority of students with disabilities should have access to the same high-quality academic coursework as all other students in the state. The IEP team determines which graduation option is most appropriate for the student, given the LEA/ district’s options as determined by the governing board. Not all LEAs/districts offer a regular high school diploma based on the state-mandated requirements; some offer diplomas based on A-G requirements that provide greater access to college and exceed the state’s minimum requirements. It should be noted that although LEAs/districts cannot deny a student a standard high school diploma based on their disability, the student does not automatically obtain one because of their disability.

Separately, some LEAs/districts have also chosen to provide a differentiated diploma option. While functionally equivalent to a standard high school diploma, a school’s governing board must also approve a differentiated diploma. This alternative could allow LEAs/districts a wider interpretation of how students demonstrate mastery towards the prescribed set of courses within the differentiated diploma option. In addition, certain student groups may be exempt from the LEA/districts’ graduation requirements. Under Assembly Bill 167/216, students identified as either foster youth or on probation, who are removed from their homes and transfer high schools after their second year, may graduate and earn a standard high school diploma by completing the minimum state graduation requirements if, at the time of transfer, they cannot reasonably complete additional local school LEA/district requirements within four years of high school. Similarly, under Assembly Bill 1806, students identified as homeless are exempt from all coursework and other requirements that are in addition to the state minimum requirements of 13 year-long academic courses needed to earn a diploma.

High School Diploma Equivalency Assessment

The California Department of Education has approved the use of three high school equivalency tests: the General Education Development Test (GED); High School Equivalency Test (HiSET); and Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC) for students 18 years old, and some 17 years old, to receive a California High School Equivalency Certificate. Postsecondary institutions, such as the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems, will accept a high school equivalency test in place of a diploma. However, students must still meet specific coursework, grade point average, and ACT or SAT examination requirements.

Students at LEA/districts who are 16 years old or have been enrolled in the tenth grade for one academic year have the additional option to complete the California High School Proficiency Exam (CHSPE). The CHSPE consists of two sections: an English-language arts section and a mathematics section. Students who pass both sections of the CHSPE are issued a Certificate of Proficiency by the California State Board of Education. The CHSPE is the legal equivalent of a high school diploma in California, and a student who receives it may leave high school early, with verified parental approval. If a student with an IEP passes a high school equivalency test, the student is still eligible to receive educational placement and services under their IEP at the LEA/district until they meet the requirements of one of the graduation options offered.

Graduation Requirements for Students Attending Nonpublic Schools

Students with disabilities attending nonpublic schools (NPS) must meet the same criteria for graduation as peers attending the placing LEA/district work with nonpublic schools to determine the graduation eligibility for students with disabilities placed at nonpublic schools. The LEA/district evaluates the student’s transcript to verify the student’s eligibility for completion of courses leading to either a high school diploma or a COC. For more specific information regarding NPS, refer to the Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) NPS/Residential Treatment Centers Guidelines located on the SELPA website at

Prior Written Notice: High School Diploma

The PWN is provided to inform parents/guardians and/or adult students prior to the LEA/district a change to the educational placement or provision of a FAPE based on the criteria of students completing their requirements for a high school diploma. The PWN should be completed immediately following the exit IEP and provided to parents/ guardians and/or adult students without delay prior to ending services.

The Certificate of Completion (COC) option is available to students with IEPs who cannot complete the requirements for a regular high school diploma that the LEA/district offers. These students are eligible for educational placement and services under their IEP. Students on COC track require extensive, individualized instruction that requires modifications to the curriculum. The COC option does not equal a regular high school diploma, and the determination for a student to receive a COC is an IEP team decision. The graduation option that the IEP team chooses shall be documented clearly as part of the Transition Plan, as well as marked on the IEP’s offer of Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)/Educational Settings page.

IEP teams can waive academic courses the student attempted prior to being identified as progressing towards a COC. Conversely, while a student is progressing towards a COC, IEP teams should convene to analyze factors preventing a student from successfully completing a required academic course. The IEP team should evaluate if the IEP goals, services, and supports are reasonably calculated, and if the student will receive further educational benefit through repeating a specific course. While students may have access to the general education curriculum, most students receiving a COC participate in California’s Alternate Assessment testing system, which is documented on the IEP’s Statewide Assessment page. A student with a disability who has satisfied the following three requirements, but who has not satisfied the requirements for a diploma, may receive a COC:

  • Satisfactory completion of a prescribed alternative course of study as identified on the student’s IEP; or
  • Satisfactory achievement of the student’s IEP goals and objectives during high school as determined by the IEP team; or
  • Satisfactory high school attendance, participation in the instruction prescribed in the student’s IEP, and achievement of the objectives stated in the transition plan.

A Summary of Performance, PWN, and Procedural Safeguards are required for students with an IEP that are graduating with a diploma, receiving a Certificate of Completion, or aging out.

A Summary of Performance provides the student with a summary of the student’s academic achievement and functional performance in order to assist the student in their transition following high school. The student can share the SOP with colleges, adult agencies, vocation and rehabilitation centers, and employers to help identify services and accommodations that can assist the student in the classroom, workplace, or community.

The Summary of Performance (SOP) pages are also located in SEIS (Post-Secondary Exit pages 1 & 2). The SELPA encourages LEAs to convene EXIT IEP meetings in the last 8 to 10 weeks of the senior year of high school and to complete and discuss these pages with the student and their family. You may use an IEP meeting to discuss and complete the SOP with the student but there is no requirement to hold an IEP meeting for purposes of completing the SOP. The primary service provider (case manager), the student and the parent are the only people required to review the Summary of Performance. This does not need to be a formal meeting, but documentation that the Summary has been reviewed and provided should be obtained. However if holding during an IEP, required IEP members should be present.

The SOP pages contain current academic and functional levels and high school/community contact information to assist with the transition into adulthood. In addition, the IEP can be reviewed to update any progress on goals and/or to modify the transition plan. The IEP team can also review end dates for services and update any other forms as appropriate. The student should be given a complete copy of the IEP, including the SOP pages, once the Exit IEP is completed.

What should IEP teams consider when designating which students will benefit from a Certificate of Completion?
Typically, students designated to receive a COC include students who:
  • Have significant cognitive impairments.
  • Participate in alternate statewide assessments, such as the California Alternate Assessment in English language arts, mathematics, and science.
  • Cannot demonstrate subject competency in diploma-track classes, even with differential proficiency standards, accommodations, and modifications to the required courses and curriculum.
The designation does not include students who have recently transferred into a school and whose prior school determination was that the COC, English language development status, or behavior or academic skills without commensurate cognitive and adaptive deficits.
What happens when a student is designated to receive a Certificate of Completion, but fulfills the requirements of a high school diploma?
An LEA/district must issue a diploma when any student meets regular high school graduation requirements. Withholding a diploma to meet procedural requirements of the IDEA would be discriminatory.
Students with significant cognitive impairments should work towards a high school diploma until the IEP team has exhausted accommodations, modifications, and differential proficiency standards, and has determined that an alternative course of study (i.e., certificate of completion) is most appropriate.
The governing board of the LEA/district determines alternative courses of study for students with significant cognitive impairments earning a certificate of completion attending high school within their LEA/district. Alternative courses for students earning a COC must assist the student’s IEP and Individual Transition Plan (ITP).
Can transition requirements related to assessment, course of study and post-secondary goals be provided through a General Education class?
Yes, general education activities can meet the transition requirements as long as they are documented in the student’s IEP. General education staff should be collaborating and receiving direct support and communication from the IEP team.
What is an Individual Transition Plan?
The ITP is a written plan designed to help prepare students for passage from school to post-school life. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1401(34); California EC Secs. 56462 & 56345.1.] The ITP must be based on the student’s needs, preferences, and interests and reflect the student’s own goals. Objectives, timeliness, and people responsible for meeting the objectives should be written into the ITP (and made part of the IEP). Transition planning and development of the ITP are part of the IEP process.
What factors should an IEP team consider in determining the ITP course of study?
The IEP team should consider the students’:
  • Goals upon completing high school
  • Education/training, employment, and independent living
  • Academic history and special education
  • Test data, including statewide testing scores and reading level
  • Curriculum/course descriptions as related to LEA/district graduation requirements
  • Attendance
  • Behavior
  • Graduation status
Does the LEA/district have to help students with disabilities transition from high school to adult life, even if they receive a COC?
Yes. If a special education student has not met the requirements for graduation (including the objectives of the statement of transition services), the LEA/district must continue to provide transition services to the student until she or he turns 22 years of age.

Federal special education law requires transitional planning services for students with disabilities regardless of which agencies provide support or educational services to the student. Beginning by the first IEP after a student turns 16 (or younger if the IEP team determines it is appropriate) and updated annually, the IEP must contain a statement of appropriate measurable postsecondary goals. The goals must be based on age transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and independent living skills where appropriate. The IEP must also contain a statement of needed transition services for the student that focuses on the student’s courses of study (such as participation in advanced placement courses or a vocational education program). In addition, the IEP must contain, when appropriate, a statement of the inter-agency responsibilities. [20 United States Code Sec. 1414(d)(1)(A); 34 Code of Federal Regulations Secs. 300.320(b) & 300.321(b)(3).]

Age Considerations

Age of majority is a term used to describe the time in life after which a person is legally no longer considered a child and becomes an adult in the eyes of the law. In California, the legal age of majority is 18 years.

When a child with a disability turns 18, all rights under state and federal special education law transfer from the parent(s) to the adult student (except in the case of a child with a disability who has been determined to be incompetent under California Law). At this point the student becomes responsible for all educational, medical, financial and legal decisions on their own behalf. This transfer of rights also applies to those students incarcerated in an adult or juvenile federal, state, regional or local correctional institution.

Per IDEA, an LEA/district must inform the parent(s) and special education student before the student turns 17 that all rights will transfer to the student on his or her 18th birthday. The Transition Plan section of the IEP includes a statement that must be filled out to document the discussion with the parent and student regarding the transfer of rights upon reaching the age of majority. This conversation typically occurs during an IEP meeting prior to the student turning 17 and should be documented in the notes of the IEP meeting. Both the student and the parent must be present at the meeting for the discussion to ensure all questions are answered, and that the student and parent clearly understand what is included in the transfer of rights.

Eligibility for special education services under the IDEA generally terminates on the date the student graduates with a regular high school diploma, or when the student reaches her 22nd birthday, whichever comes first. A student’s receipt of an alternative diploma or a certificate of completion does not terminate her right to receive special education and related services under the IDEA.

Students with disabilities who have not received a regular high school diploma and are between the ages of 19 and 21 years, inclusive, must be enrolled in or eligible for a special education program prior to her 19th birthday in order to continue receiving special education services. Any student who becomes 22 years of age during the months of January to June, inclusive, while participating in a special education program may continue her participation in the program for the remainder of the current fiscal year, including any extended school year (ESY) program for students with disabilities.

Any student age 21 eligible to participate in a special education program shall not be allowed to begin a new fiscal year in a program if she becomes 22 years of age in July, August, or September of that new fiscal year. However, if a student is in a year-round school program and is completing her individualized education program in a term that extends into the new fiscal year, then the student may complete that term.

Any student who becomes 22 years of age during the months of October, November, or December while participating in a special education program shall be terminated from the program on December 31 of the current fiscal year (the fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30), unless the student would otherwise complete her individualized education program at the end of the current fiscal year. For example, if a student has a 22nd birthday in November, but is on track to receive a high school diploma in June of the same fiscal year, he or she would not continue to receive services past June, which is the end of that fiscal year.

If a parent changes his/her mind and later requests that the child be re-enrolled in special education, the LEA/district must treat this request as an initial evaluation. The LEA/district will need to do an initial evaluation for the student and determine eligibility before developing a new IEP. A student who reaches the age of majority and retains their educational rights may revoke consent of his/her special education and related services; the district must provide prior written notice to the adult student as noted above.

When Parents Do Not Agree

In the case of two parents in conflict, the written consent of only one parent with educational decision- making authority is necessary to revoke consent for a child’s receipt of special education and related services. A Prior Written Notice should be sent to both parents.

As long as the parent has the legal authority to make educational decisions for the child, the school district must accept the parent’s written revocation of consent. A subsequent disagreement by the other parent does not overturn the revocation. Further, a subsequent request for special education services does not overturn the revocation (unless the revocation is made by the parent who initiated the original revocation) and would initiate the initial assessment process.

Note: Neither the school district nor the objecting parent can use IDEA due process procedures to overcome a parent’s written revocation of consent. The IDEA provides that a parent may file a due process complaint over actions by a public agency and not actions by another parent.


Transition: The IEP

This is one example of an IEP:

  • Post-secondary Goals
  • Education and training
  • Employment
  • Independent Living
  • Update Annually
  • Age appropriate assessment
  • Transition services
  • Course of study
  • Annual goals directly related to post-secondary goals
  • Student Invited to the IEP
  • Representative of agency that provides post-school transition support invited to the IEP.

Remember, it is necessary to provide documentation in the student record of:

  • Assessments
  • Invitations to student
  • Invitation to agencies or justification for not inviting agencies.

Assessments drive the IEP and document the need for services.

Reasons agencies are not invited or don’t attend with that justify the indication that it is not applicable:

-Agencies that will pay for or provide services listed in the IEP are not available.

-Parent or student at age of majority refuses to consent.

-It is too early to determine the student will need agency involvement.

Some agencies may not attend the IEP, but do provide services.  These services need to be documented in the student’s record.

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