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Secondary Transition


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Throughout life people move from one set of circumstances to another. The period of adjustment to these changes is known as transition. As individuals develop and grow they experience many transitions. Although transition planning is important whenever changes occur, there are two specific times when procedures and practices are mandated by IDEA '04 and the Iowa Administrative Rules of Special Education. The first time is when children turn three years of age and transition from Part C services to Part B or other community services. The second time is when an individual turns 14 years of age or younger, if appropriate, and post-secondary planning procedures take effect. This webpage focuses solely on the latter – the transition of youth with disabilities from high school to learning, living and working in the community.

The ultimate goal of secondary transition planning is to make the adjustment from high school as easy, successful and as short as possible. Successful transition planning should begin early and be based on specific knowledge and experiences of targeted future environments and activities. It includes the commitment of resources, collaboration among people and agencies, and decision making to develop an IEP for the student.

Legal Requirements and Reports

Recent changes in IDEA 2004 have influenced how transition is identified and increased the scrutiny with which secondary transition is regarded. IDEA 2004 defines transition services as:

Section 602 (34) Transition Services: The term ‘transition services’ means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that-

(A) 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 to facilitate the child’s move from school to post-school activities including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;

(B) is based upon the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and

(C) includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living skills and, when appropriate acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.  602(34)

IDEA 2004 goes on further in Section 614 to describe content that should be included in the IEP to address transition:

(VIII) beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child is 16 and updated annually thereafter-

(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 by the child to reach those goals, including services to be provided by other agencies when needed;

(cc) Beginning not later than 1 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 under this title, if any, that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority under section 615(m). 614(d)(1)(A)(VII)

Although federal statute now requires transition planning to begin at age 16, Iowa continues to begin secondary transition planning at age 14.

Guiding Practices

Although IDEA requires transition planning and services, it is silent on the specifics of implementation. Iowa has therefore used statutory language and knowledge of effective practices to identify six critical elements of transition that should be followed when planning for, and providing, transition services. The six critical elements are:

  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

Age of Majority









Transition Assessment PowerPoint Presentation--March 2007 (2007-03-12) - This presentation includes information that was presented over the ICN to AEA staff, LEA staff and others were needed information about the newly developed Transition Assessment process for the state.

Support for Accommodation Request (SAR) - This document describes information needed for completing a support for accommodations request form (SAR) to assist in application for accommodations at postsecondary schools.

A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities  -- This guide is being issued by OSERS, the Rehabilitation Services Administration, and the Office of Special Education Programs to advance our efforts in ensuring that all students and youth with disabilities are equipped with the skills and knowledge to be engaged in the 21st century workforce.

This transition guide addresses the following topics to facilitate a seamless transition from school to post-school activities:

  • Transition planning: opportunities and programs;
  • Transition services and requirements, as authorized by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Rehabilitation Act;
  • Education and employment options for students and youth with disabilities after leaving secondary school; and
  • Supporting decisions made by students and youth with disabilities.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA)

Memorandum of Agreement

Guidance Memo:  School Responsibility for Employment Preparation

WIOA Fall 2016 Q and A

Fall 2016 WIOA Presentation

WIOA Basics Webinar--September 2016 PowerPoint

WIOA Presentation--December 2015

WIOA Webinar Dec2015 - This webinar covers the basics of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) in regards to high school students, including Section 511 and highlights from the Memorandum of Agreement between Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services and the Iowa Department of Education.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

IDEA/504/ADA Comparison Chart

IDEA/504/ADA Comparison Chart


National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT)

National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET)

Transition Coalition

National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth (NCWD)


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 25, 2018 at 9:18pm.