Transition Time The New Definition of "Transition Services"

by Dale Pennell, C.A.S.

The Individuals with Disabilities Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) revises the definition of transition services as outlined in the following.

IDEA 1997
IDEA 2004

The term "transition services" means a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that -

The term "transition services" means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that -

(A) is designed within an outcome-oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;

(A) is designed within a results-orientedthat 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 post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;

process,

(B) is based upon the student's needs, taking into account the student's preferences and interests; and

(B) is based on the individual child's needs, taking into account the child's strengths, preferences, and interests: and

(C) includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation

(C) includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation


O'Leary (2005) views these changes as improvements to the definition of transition services for the following reasons:

  • The emphasis on transition planning as a results-oriented process "aligns the language of IDEA to the language and intent of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) where the focus is on improved results" (pp. 7-8).

  • The IDEA 2004 definition gives recognition and importance to functional achievement, as well as academic achievement.

  • The change in terminology to vocational education "reinforces the importance that vocational education, at both the secondary and postsecondary level, plays in helping prepare and improve the post-school results for students with disabilities" (p. 8).

  • The requirement to consider students' strengths makes it clear that IEP teams should focus and build upon what students can do, thus increasing the likelihood that students will be motivated to engage in the educational process and achieve positive post-school results.

  • The change from if to when constitutes "a higher standard and promotes consideration of daily living skills and a functional vocational evaluation for a broader range of students with disabilities" (p. 8).

Reference

O'Leary, E. (2005). Overview, comments and recommended action for transition services: Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004. Unpublished discussion paper. Mountain Plains Regional Resource Center, Utah State University.

Date: November/December 2005