Talking about Transition
An Introduction to SecondaryTransition Education and Services


Welcome to Part 1: Talking about Transition

Before You Start

About Part 1: Talking about Transition

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Talking about Transition


The development of a "whole life" (Turnbull and Turnbull, 2009), is an important outcome for all of us. A "whole life" would imply that each of us should be able to choose our friends, choose where to live, choose where to work and choose our community activities.  For students with disabilities, the ability to be self-determined and to have opportunities to make choices is often more challenging.

Ensuring these outcomes for students with disabilities requires careful attention and specific transition planning during the middle and high school years. Thankfully, transition planning is supported by both federal and state legislation (IDEA, 2004; Indiana Article 7). While legislation is in place to require transition planning, the cornerstone to effective and successful transition outcomes includes: Student-focused planning, student development,family involvement, program structures and interagency collaboration (Kohler, 1996).

What is Transition?

Let's start learning about what transition means for students with disabilities, by listening to some of their voices. Students' stories clearly tell us that achieving successful transition outcomes require a planning process that must be started early, developed thoughtfully and implemented prior to exiting high school.




uscapitol.png Federal and State Legislation guides us in transition planning for students with disabilities. According to IDEA 2004, individual students ages 16 or older must have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) that contains "a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that--

(A) is designed to be 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 movement 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 on the individual child's needs, taking into account the child's strengths, preferences, and interests . . . " (IDEA 2004).


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Indiana's Article 7 further stipulates that a Transition IEP must be in place by the student's 14th birthday. According to Indiana Article 7, Transition Planning must start in Indiana:

1. when a student enters into grade 9; or

2. becomes fourteen (14) years of age; whichever occurs first

3. or earlier if determined appropriate by the Case Conference Committee (CCC).

Policy to Practice


The putting into practice of legislation is monitored by the federal government through state plans and reports that measure implementation using a number of specific indicators.

For Transition, Indicator 13 outlines the compliance requirements for a Transition IEP. For in depth instruction on Indicator 13 complete the online tutorial Transition IEP: A Self-guided Tutorial on What You Need to Know to Write Quality, Compliant Transition IEPs.

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While legislation provides the definition and requirements for transition, local school districts are charged with creating and implementing effective transition planning and programming. Effective transition planning is a multi-year process, and leads students to better postschool outcomes, such as employment, education/training and/or community participation.

What are the Outcomes of Quality Transition Planning for Students?

We know that when we develop and implement quality transition services in our schools, students are more likely to experience meaningful and successful adult lives. In transition lingo, the term used is postschool outcomes (or postsecondary outcomes). Transition planning is critical to ensuring positive postschool outcomes (Bakken & Obiakor, 2008).

There is research that provides some data about postschool outcomes for students with disabilities. The National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC) has fact sheets designed to highlight key research findings about the relationship between transition outcomes and education, employment and community living.    


Benefits of Quality Transition Planning

We want to look at what some of the data about predictors show, but we also need to think about the basic benefits for students when

Some of these benefits include:graphic.talking.png













Module Summary

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In Part 1: Talking about Transition you have learned

Next, we are going to talk about a planning tool that will help to answer your questions.

Looking Ahead to Part 2: Teaching for Transition

The Taxonomy for Transition Programming (Kohler, 1996) is a planning framework meant to be used to develop and implement a transition-focused education and services.  


The remaining two sections of the T is for Transition Module will highlight information from these five areas. The second part is Teaching for Transition and includes student-focused planning and student development. The third part, Teaming for Transition, focuses on parent involvement, interagency collaboration and program structure. Start Part 2, to learn more about the Taxonomy for Transition Programming.


This module was created by the The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC). INSTRC is located within the Center on Community Living and Careers at the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community at Indiana University, Bloomington. INSTRC is part of the Indiana Resource Network funded by the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). Any information or opinions presented in this module are those of INSTRC and do not necessarily represent those of the IDOE. Click HERE to visit INSTRC's website. Questions regarding this module may be sent to: 


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Halpern, A., Yovanoff, P., Doren, B. & Benz, M. (1995). Predicting participation in postsecondary education for school leavers with disabilities.

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Kohler, P. (1996). A taxonomy for transition programming: Linking research and practice. Champaign: Transition Research Institute, University of


Leonard, R., D'Allura, T., & Horowitz, A. (1999). Factors associated with employment among persons who have a vision impairment: A follow-up of

vocational placement referrals. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 12, 33-43.

Luecking, R. (2009). The way to work: How to facilitate work experiences for youth in transition. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company.

Roessler, R., Brolin, D., & Johnson, J. (1990). Factors affecting employment success and quality of life: A one year follow-up of students in

special education. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 13, 95-107.

Turnbull, A., & Turnbull, R. (2009). Whole lives: A curriculum for  young people in transition from school to adulthood. Lawrence: University of

Kansas, Beach Center on Disability.