Once a child turns 14, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires her Individualized Education Program (IEP) to address her transition needs.  Transition needs include any needs that affect the child’s ability to successfully transition from school to adult life.  A child may, for example, need help developing independent living skills, such as cooking and calendaring.  Under the IDEA’s transition requirements, her IEP should address that need.

According to the Office of Special Education Programs, a federal office which helps states implement the IDEA, the IDEA’s transition requirements demand that each IEP answer eight questions:

  1. Are there appropriate measurable postsecondary goals in the areas of training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills?
  2. Are the postsecondary goals updated annually?
  3. Is there evidence that the measurable postsecondary goals were based on age-appropriate transition assessment(s)?
  4. Are there transition services in the IEP that will reasonably enable the student to meet his or her postsecondary goals?
  5. Do the transition services include courses of study that will reasonably enable the student to meet his or her postsecondary goals?
  6. Is (are) there annual IEP goal(s) 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 the prior consent of the parent or student who has reached the age of majority?

Transition is critical for children with disabilities; it is the bridge between school and the rest of their lives.  So keep these eight questions in mind, and ask your child’s school about them if you don’t see them answered in her IEP.