Secondary Transition

Secondary Transition is the process of preparing students with disabilities for life after high school in the areas of post-secondary education or training, employment, and independent living. These three areas are referred to as “post-school outcomes.” IDEA 2004 defines secondary transition as “a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that is designed within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with the disability to facilitate the movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment…adult services, independent living or community participation.” At the secondary level, transition is the component that drives IEP development.

Transition planning begins at age 14, using age-appropriate assessments to explore the student’s interests, preferences, strengths and needs. Measurable postsecondary goals related to post-secondary education or training, employment and independent skills are written based upon assessment information and the input of the IEP team. Courses of study and transition services/activities are selected to support the postsecondary goals. Utilizing student-centered planning and assessment data ensures that appropriate services and supports are selected to foster student achievement.

Effective transition planning involves a collaborative effort between the student, family, school personnel, agency providers, and community members. These members (IEP team) write then annually review the transition plan to determine the next steps necessary to facilitate successful post-school outcomes. This network of individuals creates a support system for the student that transcends from school to adult life.

Larry McCluskey is the Educational Consultant for Secondary Transition for ARIN Intermediate Unit 28 located in Armstrong and Indiana Counties in Pennsylvania. For further information about secondary transition services, contact Adrienne at (724) 463-5300 ext. 1212 or at

Transition References

  • National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC)
  • National Post-School Outcomes Center
  • IDEA Partnership (NASDSE)
  • Transition Coalition
  • National Center on Secondary Education and Transition
  • PaTTAN
  • Shared Work
  • PA Department of Health Transition Checklist (2010)
  • Pennsylvania Youth Leadership Network (PYLN) Toolkits: Secondary Transition & Healthcare
  • Pennsylvania Career Education and Work Standards- Assessments
  • Going To College (Post-Secondary Resource)
  • Real People, Real Jobs (Employment Support)
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