Transition Time The Relationship Between Postsecondary Goals and Transition Services

by Dale Pennell, C.A.S.

Section 61 4(d) (1) (A) of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004) requires Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams to develop "appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and independent living skills, where appropriate" for students of transition age.

Measurable postsecondary goals are different from measurable annual goals. Postsecondary goals capture students' visions of adult life, whereas annual goals address the means by which students access the secondary school coursework and other educational experiences that will enable them to successfully pursue their postsecondary goals. Each local education agency decides where postsecondary goals are recorded in the IEP, but these goals are to be written prior to the development of measurable annual goals. Below are examples of postsecondary goals that address adult life.

  • Amanda will complete the police academy

  • Trey will complete a plumbing apprenticeship

  • Doris will complete a military training course in fixed wing engine repair

  • Misha will meet the assembly line packaging requirements established by his supported employment job coach

  • Briana will earn a baccalaureate degree in music

  • Mohammed will earn an associate degree in accounting

  • Siegfried will complete art classes of interest offered at the local fine arts center

  • Corbin will complete money management and banking classes at the local center for independent living (CIL)

  • Maya will secure employment as a teller at a local bank

  • Ben will join the Marines

  • Keith will stock shelves at a local business

  • Lola will teach English in a public or private school

Independent Living
  • Emeril will maintain his own room/apartment/home

  • Gustav will participate in a recreational soccer league

  • Juanita will manage her schedule for taking prescribed medications

  • Portia will participate in local, state, and national elections

Appropriately designed postsecondary goals may inform the development of meaningful transition services, also proscribed in IDEA 2004 (Section 614(d) (1) (A)). These services address coursework and other educational activities that provide students prerequisite knowledge and skills to achieve their postsecondary goals.

Before IEP teams design these services, they should review students' postsecondary goals and concurrently consider the following questions:

  • What specific secondary coursework will prepare students to achieve postsecondary goals?

  • What specific instructional activities will enable students to acquire the skills necessary to achieve their postsecondary goals?

  • What related services do students now receive that they will continue to need as adults? What will be the process for linking students to these resources so that they may achieve their postsecondary goals?

  • What community experiences (governmental, social, recreational, leisure, business, transportation) do students need to participate in community life as they envision it through their postsecondary goals?

  • What activities do students need that address the development of work-related behaviors, including career exploration, and job seeking and keeping skills so that they may achieve their postsecondary goals?

  • For what adult living skills, such as opening a checking account, do students need preparation if they are to achieve their postsecondary goals?

  • What skills of daily living, those personal activities that adults do regularly, do students need to acquire? What activities can address these needs so that students may achieve their postsecondary goals?

  • Do students need functional vocational evaluations in order to achieve postsecondary goals?

Transition services strategically designed and implemented in response to these questions increase the likelihood that students with disabilities achieve their postsecondary goals.

Date: February/March 2006