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Secondary Transition

The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates schools to provide services to students with disabilities to assist in their transition from school to post-school activities. Secondary transition services are designed to be a results-oriented process, with a focus on improving the academic and functional achievement of the student and facilitating the student’s movement from school to post-school activities (e.g., postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment, independent living). The overall goal is to facilitate movement of students with disabilities from secondary special education to meaningful employment and a quality adult life. Secondary transition planning must begin no later than when the first individualized education plan (IEP) is to be in effect when the student turns 14 or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP team.

Six critical elements of transition should be followed when planning for and providing transition services. The six critical elements are the following:

1. Student preferences and interests
2. Age-appropriate transition assessments
3. Post-secondary expectations for living, learning and working
4. Course of study
5. Annual goals
6. Services and supports

Members of the IEP team (including parents and educators) can download the Transition Resource Guide below as an aid during the transition process.

Transition Resource Guide (PDF)

Heartland AEA offers secondary transition services to assist schools, students and families in preparing for post-secondary living, learning and working in the community. For example, Heartland AEA provides professional development for middle and high school special education teachers on such topics as IEP design, transition assessment and analysis and special education transition procedures. The Agency also employs consultants who assist districts, teachers, parents and students with disabilities with transition planning. These consultants support parents of secondary students with disabilities in several ways, such as a) making linkages to community agencies, financial supports (e.g., SSI), waiver supports and services and state agencies (e.g., Vocational Rehabilitation) and b) assisting with case coordination (e.g., ChildServe, Easter Seals) and supports needed for post-secondary learning (e.g., accommodations).

The Iowa Transition Assessment website provides resources and tools to assist in the identification of the interests, preferences, strengths and needs of students with IEPs, so that the student will be better prepared for employment, further education and independent living. The information on this website has been developed by a team of educators from area education agencies, local schools, University of Northern Iowa, University of Kansas and the Iowa Department of Education.

Age of Majority Resources
In Iowa, when a student turns 18, gets married or is incarcerated into the adult legal system, he/she obtains his/her educational rights. This means that their educational rights transfer to them. Click on the "Age of Majority Resources" link above for materials to help teachers, parents and students understand what educational rights students and parents have and what the transfer of rights means for them.


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