Planning for the Future with the IEP Team 

There are some important milestones at which a child’s IEP team should be reaching out to parents, so both parents and their child can discuss and make some crucial decisions about the future.

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Important Milestones

The first milestone is around a student’s fifteenth birthday. At the time of his or her annual IEP review or reevaluation, the parent and student should discuss with the IEP team whether the student is on track to graduate from high school and to determine the best path to graduation. Learn more about graduating from DCPS.

The second milestone is around a student’s sixteenth birthday. At the time of his or her annual IEP review or reevaluation, the parent and student should work with the IEP team to discuss and finalize future plans about education, employment and independent living arrangements. At this meeting, the parent, student and the rest of the IEP team should create measurable goals for any continued education, employment and individual living plans.

By the time of a student’s sixteenth birthday, his or her IEP team should give the parents a copy of this plan, known as a transition plan, and already should be implementing it. If this isn’t the case, parents should contact their child’s IEP case manager at their neighborhood school.

Career and College Interest Tests

Federal law requires that age-appropriate transition assessments be given to students with disabilities. These assessments can provide information about a child’s interests, strengths and needs. Additionally, it is a great foundation for creating measurable and specific goals for the transition plan.

There are two major types of assessments, which are described below:

  • Before high school – designed to identify middle school students’ interests and skills. Among other data, the IEP team will look at student’s grades, use the Individual Graduation Portfolio (IGP) to determine a student’s interests, and interview the student, parent(s) and teachers to learn as much as possible about the student.
  • During high school – designed to learn about a high school student’s career interests and job readiness. For example, the IEP team will use IGP to help students explore their career interests and careers that best match their skills.

Outside agencies and organizations that would be providing services to the student once he or she graduates, will be invited to this transition meeting. These outside organizations will contribute to the goals that are written and services that are required while the student is in school.

Creating Goals for a Transition Plan

Once the assessments are complete, the student, parent and the rest of the IEP team can create measurable goals for the student’s future.

There are two types of goals that will be created during the transition meeting - post-secondary goals and annual goals.

Post-secondary goals are measurable and should detail what a student would like to do after leaving DCPS. For example, a student may want to attend a college, university or technical school, or they may want training for a specific career path.

Post-secondary goals also may be created about finding and keeping a job, volunteering and living independently. Independent living goals may include plans related to living arrangements, recreational activities and community service, financial responsibilities and transportation. These independent living plans are created on an as-needed basis.

The IEP team also will create annual goals, which state what a student will do or learn within the next year that will help him or her to achieve these post-secondary goals. 

The transition plan also should include any transition services, which are a coordinated set of activities that focus on improving the academic and functional achievement of a student with special needs as related to achieving their post-secondary goals.

Finally, it's important that the transition plan identifies an appropriate course of study that is individualized for a student, listing the necessary courses necessary to ensure that a student will meet his or her post-secondary goals. The course of study must be updated annually.

This IEP meeting is crucial to a child’s success after high school, as it enables students with disabilities to take ownership of their future and set achievable goals for their future. It also is an important time for students to improve their self-advocacy skills and to prepare emotionally for life after high school.

Once the transition plan is complete, the IEP team will review it annually and revise as needed.

How is a Good Transition Goal Written?

All transition goals should be SMART:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action words
  • Realistic
  • Timely

The parent, student and the rest of the IEP team will work together to make sure all transition goals follow this model.


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