Transition is the planning for adulthood for students with disabilities. The planning officially begins when a student turns 12, continues throughout the school experience, and ends with a student exit summary prior to graduation or reaching age 21. To help your child prepare for a successful future as an adult, families should begin thinking about this transition as early as possible.
The school based Transition Planning Team is responsible for supporting the transition services and activities that help your child's movement from school to post-school activities. The team includes the following members:
- The student
- Committee on Special Education
- Related service providers
- Participating agencies (if applicable)
- Transition: a process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of students with disabilities to facilitate the movement from school to post-school activities.
- Transition Services: a coordinated set of activities for students with disabilities that are designed to promote movement from school to post-school activities. Transition services must be based on the individual student’s needs, taking into account the student’s strengths, preferences and interests.
- Post-School and Post-Secondary Activities: includes postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living and/or community participation.
Age 12: A Level I Vocational Assessment is completed during the school year a student turns 12 (this includes students who turn 12 in July and August) and once every year after at the annual IEP meeting. The assessment includes:
- Student Interview: to determine interests, needs, preferences, skills and abilities. A member of the Transition Planning Team may use a verbal interview, written interview, picture icons to touch and point, or other based on the student's ability.
- Parent/Guardian Interview: completed in the parent/guardian's preferred language of communication in a conference. The conference can be conducted in person at the school or over the telephone.
- Teacher Interview/Questionnaire: a current teacher of the students examines records, assessments, and levels of performance.
The Transition Planning Team may consider other vocational assessments (Level II Vocational Assessment and Level III Vocational Assessment) if additional information is needed to determine a student's post-secondary interests and abilities.
Middle School: The Transition Planning Team should work with the student and the family to begin thinking about high school. Using the vocational assessments as guidance, the team will examine the student's interests to help identify appropriate choices for high school admissions. Families should research schools to make sure that they have the services that are required for the special needs of their child. Teams should keep all high schools in mind, including Specialized High Schools that requires students to take and pass the admissions test and Career and Technical Education (CTE) High Schools that cater to specific vocational interests. For more information, review the high school admissions page.
Age 15: Students must be invited to their IEP meeting and transition services must be part of the first IEP completed during the year a student turns 15. Additional members of the community and agency personnel may also be invited to the meeting with parental/guardian consent. The IEP must include:
- Measurable Post-Secondary Goals: These goals focus on the education and/or training and employment a student requires for the future. These are selected based on the vocational assessments. If needed, students will also have goals that focus on independent living skills.
- Coordinated Set of Transition Activities: This is a statement of the transition services needed to support a student's movement from school to post-school. It also includes the school district's and, when applicable, the agencies' responsibility in providing the service. The set of activities must include:
- related services;
- community experiences;
- the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and
- when appropriate, achievement of daily living skills.
Graduation or reaching age 21: During the final year of high school, student exit summaries are completed. This includes information about:
- a student's abilities
- a student's skills
- a student's needs
- a student's limitations
- recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting their post-school goals such as support with:
- establishing eligibility for reasonable accommodations and supports in postsecondary settings, the workplace and the community
- accessing appropriate adult services
- understanding the impact of his/her disability
- communicating his/her strengths and needs, including supports that would be helpful in post-school life
Credentials and Graduation Pathways
All students, including students with disabilities, are encouraged to work toward the highest diploma option available.
The majority of students with disabilities have access to academic experiences required to earn a Regents diploma throughout high school. The following diplomas and credentials are available to students with disabilities upon graduating from high school:
- Advanced Regents diploma
- Regents diploma
- Local diploma- this allows students with disabilities to graduate with lower Regents exam scores
Each diploma and credential requires students to complete specific courses and exams. For information about the diploma requirements, see the page on Graduation Requirements.
The following are credentials available only to students with IEPs. These credentials are not equivalent to a high school diploma.
- Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential is a certificate that indicates that the student has the knowledge and skills necessary for entry level employment. This credential is available to students with IEPs who are not assessed using the New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA).
- Skills Achievement Commencement Credentials is a certificate available only to students with severe cognitive disabilities who are eligible to take the NYSAA and have attended school for not less than 12 years, excluding Kindergarten. This credential must be accompanied by a summary of the student’s levels of achievement in academic and career development and occupational studies. For more information, you can read the NYCDOE overview.
College Considerations for Students with Disabilities
There are no IEPs in college. Students with disabilities may choose to seek the support of a college or university’s disability office. If the student is found eligible, the college or university’s disability services office will develop an accommodation plan based on the documentation of a disability that the student provides. Colleges or universities are not required to provide modifications, which may alter the content that students are required to learn.
The Higher Education Opportunity Act contains a number of important provisions that improve access to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities (ID). Alternative college experiences create opportunities for students with ID to attend and be successful in higher education. Of particular note are the new provisions for financial aid, the funding of twenty-seven Transition Postsecondary Education Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) and a National Coordinating Center.
More information about college and career support can be on the Department of Education's website here.
Agencies, Services and Resources
With parental consent (or the consent of a student who is 18 years of age or older), the school may invite a representative of an agency that could help provide or pay for transition services. If an invited agency’s representative is unable to attend, the district must take other steps to involve the agency in the planning of transition services. Below is a listing of some agencies, services or resources that may need to be involved in a student’s transition.
Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR): Works with students, families and school districts to coordinate appropriate services for students with disabilities who are leaving secondary education and entering adult vocational rehabilitation, work opportunities, and/or related services.
The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD): Responsible for coordinating services for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, including intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorders, and other neurological impairments.
The Office of Mental Health (OMH): Promotes the mental health and well-being of all New Yorkers and supports children and families in the social and emotional development.
Center for the Independence of the Disabled (CID-NY): Provides the following services- advocacy, crisis intervention, information and referrals, independent living assistance, housing resources, benefit entitlements and peer counseling.
New York State Commission for the Blind (NYSCB): A service that works to enhance the employability, maximize independence, and to assist in the development of the capacities and strengths of people who are legally blind.
Fedcap Career Design School: Provides vocational services and trainings, hospitality operations, data entry, office skills, culinary arts/food service, security operations, custodial, mailroom and messenger service.
INCLUDE NYC: Works for families and children with all disabilities, across all boroughs, to understand, navigate, and access the services needed to ensure that all children and youth have the opportunity to develop their full potential.
- NYCDOE Office of Travel Training: Eligible students age 14 and above may receive travel training services to increase their ability to use public transportation and navigate environments independently. For more information, please contact Peggy Groce, Director, at 212-802-1625 or email@example.com.
- NYCDOE Transition and College Access Centers:
- Develop and provide transition-focused information, resources and linkages to students, families and staff to support access and preparedness for college and careers.
- Engage community business organizations (CBOs) to establish, maintain and increase work-based learning opportunities and employment access for students with disabilities.
- Facilitate students’ access to college and career learning experiences that will support attainment of graduation/diploma requirements and credential options.
- Administer age-appropriate transition assessments to inform student-centered transition planning activities.
- Engage families in the transition and postsecondary planning process through student and family centered workshops. Develop and lead ongoing research-based professional development for staff in the areas of college and career readiness and transition planning and services.