"(aa) appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; (bb) the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals; and (cc) beginning not later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority under State law, a statement that the child has been informed of the child's rights... that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority..."
20 U.S.C. section 1414(d)(1)(A)(VII).
"The big picture"
Transition planning is arguably one of the most important parts of the special education process. When enacting the IDEA, Congress recognized that:
Disability is a natural part of the human experience and in no way diminishes the right of individuals to participate in or contribute to society. Improving educational results for children with disabilities is an essential element of our national policy of ensuring equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.
20 U.S.C. section 1400(a)
The very first "purpose" of the IDEA as contained in the statute states:
to ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.
20 U.S.C. section 1400(d)(1)(A).
Thus, the IDEA places importance on educating students with disabilities so that they are prepared for "further education, employment, and independent living," and in order to allow them to enjoy "full participation, independent living and economic self-sufficiency" in society. Without appropriate transition planning, these purposes could not be met.
When does this apply?
The requirement that the IEP document contain postsecondary goals and transition services begins at age 16. This means that the IEP that will be in effect at the time that the child turns 16 will need to meet these requirements. It is not OK for the District to wait until the next IEP review taking place after the child's 16th birthday to add postsecondary goals and transition services to the IEP.
What are postsecondary goals?
Postsecondary goals are measurable goals related to the student's prospective outcomes for after high school - how and where the student will live, work, engage in the community, and receive further education. Postsecndary goals should be based upon transition assessments and take into consideration the student's strengths and weaknesses. In developing postsecondary goals for the IEP, the student's preferences and long-term plans become more relevant and important to consider. The IDEA specifies that transition planning be "results-oriented," so it is appropriate for post-secondary goals to look forward to the results or outcomes that the student desires and which are appropriate for that individual students. Goals can be related to further education, empolyment, independent living, community participation, etc. Setting clear and measureable postsecondary goals will allow the IEP team to determine what transition services, related services, and specialized education will be necessary to achieve those goals.
What are transition services?
The IDEA defines transition services as
"A coordinated set of activities and services for a child with a disability that
(1) 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 or to facilitate the child's movement from school to post school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
(2) is based on the individual child's needs, taking into account the child's strengths, preferences and interests; and includes (i) instruction, (ii) related services, (iii) community experiences, (iv) the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and (v) if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational education."