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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Secondary Transition

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal special education law that ensures all children with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate public education. The IDEA recognizes the importance of preparing youth for success after high school and states that transition planning for students who receive special education services and have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) must begin by age 16 (some states require that the process starts earlier). Transition planning means evaluating needs, strengths, and skills required for a student to move from high school to postsecondary life.

As a parent of a youth with disabilities, understanding the transition planning requirements in IDEA can help you work with your child's IEP team to plan appropriate transition goals and services. Below you can read the sections of IDEA regulations that specifically relate to transition and find other helpful guidance on IDEA transition requirements.

IDEA (34 CFR§300) regulations provide language in six sections that specifically refer to transition. The following sections of IDEA cover important transition topics such as when to begin including transition goals and objectives in the IEP; transition services; IEP team composition; transfer of rights at age of majority; and requirements for exiting high school programs.

Purpose of Special Education

300.1(a) Purposes.

This section states the purpose of special education and includes preparing for further education, employment, and independent living as part of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).

(a) To ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living.

Summary of Performance

300.305(e) Additional requirements for evaluations and reevaluations.

This section, part of a much larger set of evaluation requirements, focuses on a summary of performance when a child graduates from high school with a regular diploma, or exceeds the age of eligibility under IDEA. The school district must provide a summary of academic achievement and functional performance, along with recommendations for the future.

(e) Evaluations before change in eligibility. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, a public agency must evaluate a child with a disability in accordance with §§300.304 through 300.311 before determining that the child is no longer a child with a disability.

(2) The evaluation described in paragraph (e) (1) of this section is not required before the termination of a child's eligibility under this part due to graduation from secondary school with a regular diploma, or due to exceeding the age eligibility for FAPE under State law.

 

(3) For a child whose eligibility terminates under circumstances described in paragraph (e)(2) of this section, a public agency must provide the child with a summary of the child's academic achievement and functional performance, which shall include recommendations on how to assist the child in meeting the child's postsecondary goals

IEP Transition Services

300.320    Definition of individualized education program.

This section, focused on transition services, is a part of a much larger set of IEP requirements. Beginning at age 16 (or before if appropriate), an annual IEP must have appropriate measurable postsecondary goals, include transition services and courses of study, and include a statement that the child has been informed of the child’s rights transferring at the age of majority.

(b) Transition services. Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP must include—

  1. Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and
  2. The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.

(c) Transfer of rights at age of majority. Beginning not later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority under State law, the IEP must include a statement that the child has been informed of the child's rights under Part B of the Act, if any, that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority under §300.520.

300.43 Transition services.

This section provides IDEA's definition for "transition services."

(a)Transition services means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that-

(1) 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 movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, and/or community participation;

(2) Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and includes-

  1. Instruction;
  2. Related services;
  3. Community experiences;
  4. The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and
  5. If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.

(b) Transition services for children with disabilities may be special education, if provided as specially designed instruction, or a related service, if required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.

IEP Team Composition

300.321(b) IEP Team.

This section is part of a much longer list of required participants for an IEP team. In the case of transition IEPs, the child must be invited, and his or her preferences must be considered. Representatives of agencies providing transition services must also be invited.

(b) Transition services participants. (1) In accordance with paragraph (a)(7) of this section, the public agency must invite a child with a disability to attend the child's IEP Team meeting if a purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals for the child and the transition services needed to assist the child in reaching those goals under §300.320(b).

(2) If the child does not attend the IEP Team meeting, the public agency must take other steps to ensure that the child's preferences and interests are considered.

  1. To the extent appropriate, with the consent of the parents or a child who has reached the age of majority, in implementing the requirements of paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the public agency must invite a representative of any participating agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services

Transfer of Rights at Age of Majority

300.520 Transfer of parental rights at age of majority.

The rights of parents under IDEA are transferred to the child with a disability at the age of majority (18 in most states), unless the child is determined to be incompetent. Both the child and the parent must be notified by the school.

  1. General. A State may provide that when a child with a disability reaches the age of majority under State law that applies to all children (except for a child with a disability who has been determined to  be incompetent under State law)-

(1)(i) The public agency must provide any notice required by this part to both the child and the parents; and

(ii) All rights accorded to parents under Part B of the Act transfer to the child;

(2) All rights accorded to parents under Part B of the Act transfer to children who are incarcerated in an adult or juvenile, State or local correctional institution; and

(3) Whenever a State provides for the transfer of rights under this part pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) or (a)(2) of this section, the agency must notify the child and the parents of the transfer of rights.

  1. Special rule. A State must establish procedures for appointing the parent of a child with a disability, or, if the parent is not available, another more appropriate individual, to represent the educational interests of the child throughout the period of the child’s eligibility under Part B of the Act if, under State law, a child who has reached the age of majority, but has not been determined to be incompetent, can be determined not to have the ability to provide informed consent with respect to the child’s educational program.

Transition Services Funding

300.704(b)(4)(vi) State level activities.

States are allowed to use federal funds from IDEA Part B for transition planning and services.

States may use funds reserved under §300.704(b)(1) for:
(vi) Development and implementation of transition programs, including coordination of services with agencies involved in supporting the transition of students with disabilities to postsecondary activities

Links to IDEA

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) 2004 Part 300 – Assistance to States for the Education of Children with Disabilities

IDEA Secondary Transition Regulations

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