What is IEP transition planning?

What is IEP transition planning? A teen student meets with a teacher.

At a glance

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

  • IEP transition planning must start by the time a student turns 16.

  • Planning is about more than just college — it covers jobs and daily life skills too.

Transition planning is a process to help students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) decide what they want to do after high school. It also helps them figure out how to get there. The purpose is to help teens prepare to be independent young adults.

IEP transition planning is more than just a hopeful exercise or brainstorming session. During planning, teens work on specific goals. They get services and do activities to help achieve these goals.

At the heart of the transition process is the transition plan. This is a required part of a student’s IEP by the time they turn 16. To develop it, the IEP team works with a student to identify strengths and interests. These, in turn, guide planning.

The IEP transition plan has two important pieces: postsecondary goals and transition services (plus activities). See examples of IEP transition plans for career- and college-bound students:

Example IEP transition plan: CareerPDF - 35.4 KB

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Example IEP transition plan: CollegePDF - 34.9 KB

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Students are encouraged to take a leading role in IEP transition. In fact, the IEP team must invite a student to meetings where transition planning is discussed. If the student can’t attend, the team must make sure the student’s interests and desires are considered. 

Watch an expert give an overview of a successful transition plan.

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