top of page

Transition Planning

Transition planning begins when your child turns 14 years old and is incorporated into the IEP Meeting. Your child's transition plan guides the development of the IEP.


A Transition Plan (what your child desires to do post-graduation or age 22 when special education ends) is developed as part of the IEP meeting and his/her post-secondary (high school) goals, strengths, and student needs identified and listed in the Transition Plan guide the development of the annual IEP from age 14+.  Transition services are unique to each child based on their unique need. Transition services must be provided by the district to these eligible students.

Happy Student

The Transition Plan includes:

  1. Age-appropriate assessments

    • Provides information about the student, including information about student strengths, preferences, interests - including information outside of academics.

    • Should be completed each year and included in the Transition Plan​

    • Use multiple evaluations on an ongoing basis

  2. Long term goals - goals must be written for when your child graduates or ages out of school

    • Goal areas:

      • Post-school employment

      • Education and/or training

      • Independent living​

    • Updated at least once per year

    • May change over time as child ages and that's fine!

  3. Course of study

    • Required instructional strategies

    • Necessary accommodations in instruction

    • Environments to meet the student’s strengths and needs

    • Multi-year list of classes that the IEP team plans for your child to take in school to help him/her meet post-secondary goals

  4. The steps to work towards the long-term goals

  5. Plan for getting home-based supports, if appropriate.


Transitioning a student in special education with an IEP from school-life to work/adult life is the law. A resource included in the IEP Plan may include an agency called Vocational Rehabilitation (VR). Depending on the need and interest, a VR may be able to provide: 

  • Medical and Psychological Assessment

  • Vocational Evaluation and Planning

  • Career Counseling and Guidance

  • Work Experience While in High School

  • Training and Education After High School

  • Job-Site Assessment and Accommodations

  • Job Placement

  • Job Coaching

  • On-the-Job Training

  • Supported Employment

  • Assistive Technology and Devices

  • Time-Limited Medical and/or Psychological Treatment


The Laws governing transition services are:

IDEA 2004:


Areas covered include:

Postsecondary education • Vocational training • Integrated employment (including supported employment) • Continuing and adult education • Adult services • Independent Living • Community participation

The Rehabilitation Act

Rehabilitation Act of 1973 prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in federally funded programs and authorizes state vocational rehabilitation (VR) programs, client assistance programs, and independent living centers. Sections of this law are often referred to by their Title or Section number, e.g., Section 504 or Title I.

Under the Rehabilitation Act, an individual with a disability is defined as a person who

(1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,

(2) has a record of such an impairment, or

(3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

Major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks. The Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act of 2008 clarified that the definition of disability was meant to be interpreted broadly and expanded the list of life activities to include reading, concentrating, standing, lifting, bending and others.

Section 504:
A program, company, etc. that receives financial assistance from any federal agency is prohibited to discriminate based on disability due to Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. 

… no otherwise qualified individual with a disability… shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”

Likely heard in the school environment as a“504 plan,” this section of the Rehab Act secures the rights of individuals with disabilities and the right of equal access to federally funded schools, institutions, programs, and activities.

For example, some youth with disabilities have "504 plans" in high school that document accommodations and services provided to ensure equal access to education.  Students with 504 plans would not require specially designed instruction but need accommodations to access the general curriculum.

Chapter 71B, the Massachusetts Special Education Law

The Massachusetts Special Education Law is Chapter 71B that works within the federal framework of IDEA. For transition purposes, the IEP teawould include representatives of any involved adult agencies given the consent of the parent/guardian or student.

Chapter 688, "Turning 22 Law"
Massachusetts Chapter 688 of the Acts of 1983, also known as the “turning 22” law, stipulates that students receiving special education who will require continued disability-related services upon exiting school (by graduating or turning twenty-two years of age, whichever ever occurs first) shall be entitled to formal transitional planning. As such, M.G.L.c.71B Sec 12-A-C establishes the Bureau of Transitional Planning (BTP). The primary function of the BTP is to coordinate and monitor the implementation of the formal transition planning process. (source: Bureau of Transitional Planning).

Important: This process starts two years before the student expected graduation date or turns 22. The referral is made electronically by the student's school).

Eligibility determined within 60 days of application

bottom of page