What is student-centered transition planning?

Student-centered transition planning is about the student being involved in their own planning for their transition from high-school to the work force or to a career.  Also, the student will be involved in planning their course load and what direction of courses they are interested in for high-school. The student can be included in their transition planning as soon as 9th grade when they enter high-school.

What are some ways to involve students in student-centered transition planning?

There are ways to include the student in their own transition planning.  This will include:

  1.  Having classes or training centered around how they plan for their transition and courses on how they disability slows them down with regular education and it does not make them dumb, but they just learn differently and may require more supports to get around their disability.
  2. Making the student very aware of what type of disability they have and why this slows them down or makes them different than their mainstream peers.  Give the student knowledge and education about their own style of learning. Help the student get to know themselves in a way that is positive and liberating, not demeaning or negative.  Let the student know they have valuable insights, and skills that are un-tapped and how they can get in touch with their unique talents and gifts so they can put themselves in the world to help others evolve.

How can teachers successfully implement student-centered transition planning?

The teacher will need to have some sort of training and structure for the student to learn how they can be involved in their successful transition.  All of these can be included in a specific training type of course over a number of weeks.

  1.  Teach the student what transition is.
  2. Teach the student what their particular disability is and what type of career they would be suited for with this disability.
  3. Teach the student how to manage their disability into their every-day life and then into the career they choose to focus on.


  1. What is student-centered transition planning and why is it important?

Student centered planning is having the student involved in their entire step of planning their high-school course work, their IEP, their services and their input every step of the way through their IEP planning both pre and post planning.  Including having the student involved in their own testing and having a say to what they want to do and where they want to take their career planning and goals with their IEP.   

Student centered planning includes learning how their disability affects how they process information and what type of job or career they will be suited for and also how to manage their disability in relation to their schooling and to their career.  This planning will include complete education for the student not just in the basic course-work the student is required to have but in having the student learn the limitations of their disability and how they can over-come it, or work with their disability in the future.

  1. What are self-determination skills and why is student-centered transition planning an ideal context to help a student build and refine them?

Self-determination skills are within the student. This type of skill is a motivator for the students personal intrinsic goals of self improvement.  Self-determination skills will help the student overcome adversity, and hardship on their way to obtaining the necessary course-work they will need for their high-school experience.  Self-determination skills will help the student overcome outside influences that seem to present a block or hardship to the student who is in transition planning for their disability and keep the student focused on their goal of getting out of high-school and into a job or career they have interest in and can grow, develop into a kind, helpful human not hindered by their disability but empowered by their disability.

  1. Identify and briefly describe the three types of skills educators need to teach students to prepare them to take an active role in the transition planning process.
  • Use assessment information to develop goals

According to Eric Carter PhD (p.3) this is the most important skills “to understand how assessment results inform their future goals related to work, education and training and independent living.  Post secondary goals focus on after graduation where will they work, where will they live, where will they go to school. This addresses training in these areas for future education and future transition planning.”

  • Take a leadership role in IEP meetings

“It is important to show the student about their strengths, weaknesses and needs because the student will be allowed and feel good about taking charge of one or more components of the IEP meeting.” (p.4)

  • Evaluate progress toward meeting IEP goals

“By participating in this process the student can learn to set appropriate goals, monitor their level of achievement and make decisions based on their performance.” (p.5)

  1. Mr. Longoria was pleased with how Donzaleigh and Jeremy became more active participants in preparing for and leading parts of their IEP meetings. He would like to involve more of his students in this type of process. His school has typically followed a fairly traditional approach as indicated by the first column. Use the second column to identify how they can make the meetings more student-centered.
Team members state their names and their rolesThe student takes the lead and states all the team member roles and names.
Special educator states purpose of the meetingThe student leader states the purpose of the meeting.
Psychologist and/ or special education teacher collects and shares assessment informationThe student will have previously collected, and analyzed all their data, with the help of a facilitator or the coach SPED teacher, and shares with the team what their goals in the future will be based on the assessments taken and data analyzed.  
Individuals (e.g., teachers, parents) report on the student’s strengths and needs; student rarely attends or participates in the meetingThe student will report on their own strengths, needs and if they want can expand on their weaknesses if they feel like sharing with the team member.  Otherwise, the student leader will only focus on their strengths and goals they plan to achieve in their academic coursework. 
Professionals develop goalsThe student leader will develop their own goals. 
Professionals do most of the talkingThe student leader will do most of the talking 
Professional closes the meetingThe student leader will close the meeting.
  1. Imagine you work in a district that uses a traditional approach such as the one described in the table above. You want to implement student-centered transition planning with all of your students. List at least three ways you could get team members on board.

“Requires a systematic process that includes the 3 steps below: from page 7

  • Using assessment information to develop goals
  • Taking a leadership role in IEP meetings
  • Evaluating progress toward meeting IEP goals”

Page 7 of IRIS model is recopied here for my future reference:

Implementing Student-Centered Transition Planning
Transition Assessment and Developing GoalsAlwaysSometimeNever
I discuss transition assessment and its purpose with my students.   
I allow my students to complete self-assessments at their level of communication.   
I regularly assess student interests, preferences, strengths, and needs.   
I work with my students to develop IEP goals based on assessment results.   
I encourage my students to talk with others to get their input.   
Leading IEP Meetings   
I make sure my students attend their IEP meetings.   
I encourage students to invite team members to the IEP meetings.   
I provide instruction on the terms commonly used in IEP meetings.   
I encourage students to share their interests, strengths, preferences, and goals in their IEP meetings.   
I help students identify the supports, modifications, and accommodations that are beneficial to them.   
Evaluating Goals   
I support students when making choices about their high school program of studies and extracurricular activities.   
I teach students how to evaluate their progress toward meeting IEP goals.   
I work with students to develop ways to visually represent their progress (e.g., graphs, charts).   
I teach self-determination skills to my students.   

Implementing student-centered planning is an ongoing process, one that takes years to refine. Teachers should start small and build on their successes. Using the table above, teachers can identify areas they might already be covering and further identify what they want to work on next.” (p.7)  copied directly. I like this chart as this is a good reference and jumping off point.

Jim Martin PhD says it so well “Expect them to be there. Expect them to participate. The biggest facilitator we found to this whole process are teacher expectations. Teachers expect their students to become actively engaged and be there, provide them the opportunities, and then make it a celebration of kids’ education and not just a rap sheet of all things they’re not doing well. Some teachers will help students prepare invitations for their meeting. They’ll go to one of the Websites where you prepare an invitation, and they’ll go to their English teacher and say, “Madam English teacher, my IEP meeting is a couple of weeks from now. Here’s an invitation to attend. I sure hope you can be there,” and they’ll give it to their parents. They might give it to one of their best friends to attend, or the boyfriend or a girlfriend to attend, if parents approve of that, of course. Some teachers encourage students to get dressed up. They’ll bake cookies. They’ll make it a celebration of the kid’s education. And then it becomes something that they want to attend.” (p.7)

Then Kelly      sums it up “For someone that wants to start the process, start with small steps. It may be overwhelming to think, “Oh, I need to have all of my kids running all of their IEP meetings this year.” That can be a daunting thought, but start small through activities in the classroom. That can be something as simple as having the kids know who their supports are, listing them out on paper, and meeting those people so that they know who those members of the team are. Who’s going to be at my IEP meeting? Who is helping me through this process? Build that relationship. Then taking it a step further and beginning to break down the IEP for the students that can be very simple.

     You can take an entire unit on it. You can spend time on it throughout the entire year. You can choose to build that into your day in many different ways, whether it be a 15-minute segment of your class period or whether it be a whole day that you devote, a whole class period that you devote to the IEP, but breaking it down and teaching the students the different parts of the IEP and what they mean and why do we have them, why do we have accommodations, what are accommodations, so that the students can begin to understand them, know what they mean, and then start to have a voice as to whether they really need that accommodation or not. Is it something that’s helping them or is it not? That’s just one aspect of the IEP. Their present levels, what does that mean, what does that look like, where am I currently, and being able to see that and verbalize that can be a part of your class. Students that have that opportunity begin to understand the IEP is not just a document that their parent comes and signs once a year, but it is a part of their life, and it will help them get to the next phase successfully.” (p.7)

     The basic idea is to start small with small steps.  Start introducing this to the student and build on it as you go.  The next year you will be better and better at preparing the student lead student center IEP meeting and transition goal reaching for the student thereby empowering and uplifting the student with a disability.  

Published by

:Kat: K. M. M.Ed

Author, Artist, Philosopher.

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