What Should Each Transition Plan Cover?

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Each transition plan should cover the youth's goals and all the supports and services that the young person with a disability will need to prepare for the fullest possible life as an adult.

The plans should be designed individually and reflect each young person’s visions and values.

A transition plan looks ahead to the needs, changes and possibilities of adulthood. An IPE, or employment plan, focuses on preparing for work as an adult.

If the education system, vocational rehabilitation agencies and private and government social services can provide a service or support, and the person covered by the plan needs it, the plan should show the way to get it.

Some possible transition goals include:

Education Related

  • type of high school diploma to achieve
  • college (2 year or 4 year)
  • continuing and adult education
  • vocational or trade school

Work Related

  • career, trade or profession
  • integrated employment (alongside non-disabled colleagues)
  • vocational counseling
  • vocational rehabilitation
  • vocational training
  • self employment 
  • supported employment

Community Integration Related

  • adult services
  • assistive technology
  • community participation (experiences such as attending church, taking public transportation, using the library)
  • daily living skills
  • financial literacy
  • health care
  • housing
  • independent living

IEP and 504

An IEP or 504 Plan Should Spell Out:

  • all the student’s unique educational needs related to his or her disabilities
  • the supports and related services to be provided and when they are expected to start and end
  • which agencies or individuals will provide the services and who will pay for them
  • measurable goals for the student, with dates to begin working toward them and to reach them (assessments conducted by professionals can be a basis for the goals, and new assessments and data can measure the progress and inspire new goals)
  • program accommodations, modifications and supports that will be needed to help the student reach the goals in the least restrictive environment. “Least restrictive environment” means that, as much as possible, the student learns in the regular curriculum, learns alongside other students (those who have disabilities and those who do not) and participates in extracurricular activities with other students (those who have disabilities and those who do not)
  • technology devices or other assistance that might make it possible for the student to participate fully and equally in mainstream school life, and who, or what agency, will supply it

TIEP and 504

A transition plan should cover not only schooling but also vocational training and living skills – in short, whatever the young person will need to make a successful transition to adult life. The transition plan — whether a TIEP or a portion of a 504 plan — should spell out:

  • the high-school program the student needs and the type of diploma the student will work towards
  • the student’s desired post-school outcome
  • the kind of work the student wants to do and can do with the right training, supports and services, and how he or she will prepare for that work
  • any job training the student will need, whether it will be in a formal classroom setting, in the community, or both
  • post school adult living arrangements, including campus housing if needed
  • functional vocational assessments if needed
  • evaluations to support requests for post-secondary accomodations if needed
  • any life skills the student has yet to learn, such as organization, communication, daily living, transportation or socializing in groups
  • services or assistive technology devices the student will need and which agencies can supply them


The IPE should state the student’s employment goal and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) or Division of Blind Services (DBS) services the student will need to achieve it.

It is important that the student with a disability and his or her vocational rehabilitation counselor choose an employment goal specific enough to make it clear which services will be needed to reach it.

The goal should not be, for example, "health care." It should be a particular job in health care — nurse’s aide, records technician or surgeon. Instead of "business," the goal should be receptionist or comptroller. Instead of "law enforcement," it should be security guard, detective or prosecutor. The goal can always be changed if it proves to be too much, too little or simply the wrong direction.

With a specific goal, an IPE can then list in detail the services that are needed and who will pay for them. The services can include further education, transportation, mental-health therapy, medical treatment, technology and anything else necessary for the student to reach his or her goal. The IPE can also specify responsibilities of the young person, such as reporting progress to the counselor or regular attendance at classes.

How Is Transition Planned?

The transition team should meet regularly to figure out what will work for the youth, and then commit to executing its strategy.

The school has primary responsibility for creating and maintaining IEP or 504 plans and TIEPs, although many other institutions and agencies should help. The IPE is primarily the responsibility of the vocational rehabilitation counselor. The student with a disability and his or her vocational rehabilitation counselor write the IPE together, generally with the advice and counsel of others.

If educators do not begin transition planning by age 16 or younger, they can be prompted to do so. Family members and other adults close to the student’s family, along with the student him-or herself, can make a request to the school. The request should be written, and the person making it should keep a dated copy.

The first step in the planning process is a comprehensive evaluation of the student. It should be done as soon as the youth enters school or as soon as the question of a disability arises. Either the parents or the school staff may initiate it. If the school asks for an evaluation, the staffers must obtain prior consent from the parent or guardian.

The evaluation will help determine whether the student has a disability, whether the disability is covered by IDEA and State Board of Education Rules or the Rehabilitation Act, and what education services the student needs in order to succeed.

When the student is determined to have a disability, the school staff calls a meeting to write an IEP or a 504 plan, depending on the nature of the disability. (Before the meeting, the parent or adult responsible for the youth’s education should receive a copy of the assessment in time to study it, and understand it.) If they don’t agree with the findings of the assessment they can request and independent educational evaluation (IEE).

The meeting should include (and under IDEA is required to include) the parents, or person acting as the parent, local education agency representative , teachers, counselors and anyone with special expertise and knowledge pertaining to the student. The same professionals, depending on the needs of the student, should help develop and maintain a 504 plan.

Together, the members of the team decide what the student needs, what services will be provided and what outcomes are anticipated.

The meetings are repeated at least annually through the school years. The written record of the decisions made at the meetings becomes the current IEP (or 504 plan) document.

The same process produces the TIEP.