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What Is IEP Transition Planning?

At a Glance

Transition planning helps students with IEPs prepare for life after high school and adulthood.

IEP transition planning must start by the time a student turns 14 or 16 - depending on your state.

Transition planning is all inclusive - it involves planning and programming for students around independent living, employment, and educational opportunities.

Transition planning in special education is a process to help students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) decide what they want to do after high school. The transition process also helps them figure out how to get there. The purpose of the transition plan is to help teens prepare to be young adults.


IEP transition planning is more than just an idealistic thought exercise or brainstorming session. Transition planning outlines the programming and steps to work towards specific goals. Students will receive services and engage in activities to help them achieve these goals.


At the core of the transition process is the transition plan. The transition plan is a required part of the student's IEP by the time they turn 14 or 16 (depending on your state. However, you we recommend the earlier the IEP team begins transition planning, the better. 


To develop an IEP, the IEP team works with the student to identify their strengths, interests, and goals. This student input, in turn, guides the transition plan.


The IEP transition plan has two important components:

  1. Postsecondary Goals
  2. Transition Services (+ Activities)


Check out below examples of IEP transition plans for 2 different students with 2 different goals (career-focused and college-focused after high school).

Example IEP Transition Plan: Career-Focused


Example IEP Transition Plan: College-Focused


Based on the transition plan starting with the student's interests and goals in mind, students are encouraged to take the lead in their IEP transition. 


Another requirement, when the student reaches 14 or 16 (again, depending on your state) is that the IEP team must invite the student to their IEP meeting. The student invitation must be documented on the student's IEP plan documents. If the student cannot or does not want to attend their IEP meeting, the team must make sure the student input is of higher importance.

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