Transition Facts


Defining Transition

A coordinated set of activities that:

  1. Improves the academic and functional skills of the student in order to facilitate his/her movement from school to post-school activities such as postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation;

  2. Is based on the individual student’s needs, taking into account his or her strengths, preferences, and interests;

  3. Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives and, when appropriate, the acquisition of daily living skills.

Federal Policy

IDEA (2004) outlines that:

  1. transition planning must be in effect once a student is 16 years old;

  2. the development of appropriate, measurable postsecondary goals must be based on age-relevant transition assessment; and

  3. a statement of transition services to assist the student in reaching these goals must be developed.

Why is Transition Important?

  1. It is crucial to students’ success after high school.

  2. NOD (2000) found that individuals with disabilities are more likely to be unemployed, lonely, and unhappy with their lives compared to those without disabilities.

  3. Demchak (1994) concluded individuals with disabilities, who engage in appropriate recreation and leisure activities, increase their chances for success in the community.

Historical Perspective

Transition planning became a focus of federal policy for students with disabilities since the 1980s, when it was conceptually operationalized as a ‘bridge’ from school to young adulthood (Will, 1984).

Early transition planning and implementation focused on employment.

Halpern (1990, 1992) designed a more appropriate model that incorporated not only a student’s employment but residential environment, social supports, and community adjustments.

Frank and Sitlington (1990) posed that post-school transition would be ‘successful’ for students with disabilities not only if they obtained employment, but lived independently, paid part of their living expenses, and were involved in more than one community leisure activity.

So how is that working for us?

Transition literature, research, and professional personnel training has primarily focused on employment (Sitlington, 1996).

Post-school adult adjustment for students with disabilities has been poor but improving (NLTS2, 2004).

Most leisure choices by students with disabilities are typically physically passive (NLTS1, 2003).

Because many students with disabilities don’t access or take part in community programs, they can be socially isolated. Community integration and social interaction are primary indicators for quality of life.

It is speculated that the lack in addressing the interests of a student with disabilities in transition planning is a major factor in poor post-school adjustment. So adjusting to community life and participation should be a significant part in post-school transition planning.

The Present in one State--Minnesota

Assessments Need to Include

Interests of student

Interests of family

Knowledge and competencies student needs to move from school-to-community-based living

Knowledge, competencies, and strengths student needs to be successful

Students with disabilities should be involved in physical activity at postsecondary level

Students need certain level of fitness to be involved in vocational employment--need minimum strength, endurance, and flexibility to perform employment tasks

Need a lifetime physical activity “vocabulary” to participate in physical activity when not sleeping, at work, or not involved in maintenance

Student should be an active participant in community activities