Planning for Life After High School

Planning for Life After High School

I have spent a lot of time this year working on transition plans for high school students. I am shocked at the wide variety of plans I have seen on different IEPs. There is a standard and the school should be helping your child take steps to accomplishing their goals.

The process of providing special education includes transition planning. It is intended to assist high schoolers with impairments in preparing for life following graduation. As kids become 16 years old, schools must incorporate a transition plan in their individualized education programs, or IEPs. Some states demand that the changeover process starts earlier. It is crucial that the student participates in the transition process because transition planning is centered on what the student enjoys and where the student excels.

Why is a transition plan important?

Compared to those without disabilities, people with disabilities enroll in college, find employment, and live independently at considerably lower rates. Therefore, every student's school and family should make preparations for life beyond high school.

A solid transition strategy is essential for students with disabilities.

When a school team fails to put a quality transition plan in place, students with disabilities who could earn a high school diploma might not, those who may want to attend post-secondary school may be dissuaded or not meet the requirements, or those students who wish to join the workforce might find it difficult.

It is not uncommon for the school to propose a weak transition plan for students with disabilities, ignoring necessary goals for independent living, competitive employment, and post-secondary education. And it is not uncommon for parents not to know what to look for in a transition plan. Instead, students, families, and schools must make sure that expectations are set high for what people with disabilities may do in light of the abundance of post-secondary educational opportunities, as well as community-based and employment assistance for people with disabilities.

What does the process look like?

While the student is 15 years of age (13 in some states), an effective transition process should begin. Note: the plan should ALREADY be in place on the child's 16th birthday.

The process includes transition evaluations; vocational assessments are often overlooked. If you think there is a chance your child will not attend college, you should request this. It should have a thorough transition strategy and assistance in selecting both required and supportive high school courses for the long-term plan. As well as connections to suitable adult assistance organizations or volunteer opportunities should they need it.

A student's abilities, requirements, and interests should be determined using transition evaluations. Both formal evaluations, such as aptitude, academic, and adaptive exams, and informal ones, like surveys and observations and parent input, ought to be considered. The knowledge gained from the transition evaluations should serve as the foundation for transition planning. As a result, assessments must be completed before the transition strategy is created.

A teacher's or a parent's opinion on what a student ought to do after high school cannot be the basis for writing a transition plan. The student's interests must serve as the foundation of the transition plan. Because the transition plan will be presented at any IEP meeting, the law mandates that schools invite the student to participate in those meetings.

If the student does not want to participate, the school must identify other means to guarantee that their choices are considered in the transition plan. Students can experience making decisions, plan for the future, and develop self-advocacy during the transition process. Families, schools, and students must work together to ensure that transition planning involves and benefits students.

What should be included in the plan?

Transition plans must contain transition services and goals in three categories:

  1. Post-secondary education
  • What kind of post-secondary education—college courses, certifications, or training—does the student need to pursue their desired careers?
  1. Employment
  • What kinds of employment would the student wish to have when graduating high school?
  1. Independent living
  • What independent living abilities does the student lack that are necessary to be able to live on their own?

The supports the school will offer to assist the student in achieving their transitional goals are known as transition services. Direct education, linked assistance, and community-based experiences, such as paid and unpaid labor experiences, can all be part of transition services.

Just like traditional IEP goals, the student's progress on transition goals should also be included in the progress report accompanying the report card.

Identifying if a student is pursuing a high school diploma or a certificate of completion must be specified in the IEP. Many colleges, training programs, and careers demand a high school diploma; therefore, most students work toward obtaining one. A high school graduation requires the completion of a number of courses, and certain states may have regulations that specify whether segregated SPED coursework is eligible for credit.

School officials must make families aware of how each of these components fits together. In addition, the IEP team must ensure that families are aware of the consequences of choosing not to pursue a diploma.

The IEP team and other school staff must assist students in choosing which high school subjects to take based on the student's transition goals, if the student is pursuing a diploma and what supports are required. It's a good idea to start by considering what the student needs to accomplish by the time they leave school and work backward from there to ensure the student takes the classes they need each year to meet the goals in the transition plan. Since some courses must be taken before others can be taken, this strategy avoids scheduling conflicts.

Additionally, the transition plan could include direction on classes that will help the student identify if the path they have chosen is a right fit or help the student when they enter college. For example: If the child wants to pursue being a veterinarian, a school might recommend biology, animal science, and higher-level math courses.

Last but not least, IEP teams must be knowledgeable about the organizations in their state that offer assistance to persons with disabilities. Schools must be aware of the different services each organization offers as well as how to access those services. To promote the smoothest transition possible once kids graduate from high school, schools can assist in establishing connections between them and their families using these services.

What happens when my kid turns 18?

When they turn 18, students in many states are regarded as adults. Therefore, until they receive a regular high school diploma or until they become 21 years old, students with impairments are entitled to services. But what happens if a child ages out of special education programs or graduates before age 18? The student is still entitled to special education services, but parental rights no longer apply because the student is an adult.

Some adolescents could struggle to comprehend the IEP process and their rights due to their disability. These individuals should be given information in a manner they can process, given the chance to ask for guidance from others, and provided whatever support they might require to make decisions independently. With this unofficial assistance, most adult students are able to make their own decisions. Other students may employ more official support, such as giving a parent or other helpful adult power of attorney to make educational decisions on their behalf.