Special Education Transition Planning
A Self-Advocacy Fact Sheet from the Minnesota Disability Law Center
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law. The IDEA tells
what the schools must do for students with disabilities. The information in this fact sheet is
based on the most recent amendments to the IDEA, and to laws in the State of Minnesota. The
information in this fact sheet is not legal advice. Every student is different, and the laws change
all the time. Some of the laws may be different in other states.
Look at the end of this fact sheet to find the meaning of words printed in bold and italics, such as transition.
1. What are
Planning for the future is part of any student’s education. For students with disabilities, this includes
Transition services help a student move from school to adult life. The services depend on the
student’s needs and interests. They help students with everything from work to school to fun. A
student can get help to go to college or other school after high school. Transition services also help
students get jobs, find a place to live, and be a part of the community.
2. Who decides what services a student gets?
The Individual Education Program [Plan] (IEP) team decides on the services. When the team
talks about transition services, the student should be there. The team should also invite a
representative from any agency the student might use. For example, if the student wants to move
into an apartment, someone who will be providing supported living services should come.
The IEP team has to think about what the student needs and wants. The best way to do this is to ask
the student. The student should come to IEP meetings and help choose transition services. If the
student does not come, the IEP team has to figure out what the student needs and wants.
3. When does transition planning start?
The IEP team has to start planning when the student turns 14 or starts ninth grade. They can start
earlier, but never later. They need to look at what classes the student is taking. The student’s
classes should match with what s/he wants to do after graduation. If the student wants to go on in
school, s/he needs classes to prepare for college. If the student wants to learn a skill or a trade, s/he
might need a vocational education program.
The IEP team needs to figure out what help the student might need for these programs. This
information goes into the transition section of the IEP document. By age 16, the IEP should list all
services the student will need to move from school to post-school.