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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.

Advisory Group

There is no one group that acts as an advisory group to transition. A number of work groups meet to advise on current secondary activities of the Bureau of Children, Family and Community Services. Current work groups include: Transition Assessment and the Transition Accountability.

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


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.

Age of Majority

Parent Guidance--October 2015

Student Guidance--October 2015

Power of Attorney Decision-Making (Directions)--October 2015

Power of Attorney Decision-Making (Actual)--October 2015

Revocation of Power of Attorney Decision-Making (Directions)--October 2015

Revocation of Power of Attorney Decision-Making (Actual)--October 2015

Transfer of Rights Decision Tree & Charts--October 2015


IDEA/504/ADA Comparison Chart

IDEA/504/ADA Comparison Chart




Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on November 30, 2015 at 10:14am.