iep transition goals

IEP Transition Goals: Preparing Your Teenager to be a Young Adult

Preparing for life as a young adult is challenging for any high school student — which couldn’t be truer for students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP). That’s why transition plans are accessible to all students with an IEP.

Transition plans help teenagers prepare for young adulthood not just in terms of education, but life in general. They involve setting IEP transition goals based on career and life aspirations, defining the activities necessary to reach those goals, and connecting the student with any necessary resources and services along the way.

In this article, we will explain more about what transition plans are, what’s involved in setting IEP transition goals and provide advice on how to create an effective plan for a successful transition into young adulthood.

What is An IEP Transition Plan

A transition plan is a requirement of a student’s IEP, as defined by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). Law requires that students with an IEP are entitled to transition planning services as part of the first IEP that goes into effect when the student turns 16.

While a transition plan is required to go into effect no later than the age of 16, the planning process can begin much earlier than that. The student and the IEP team can begin working together on building the plan when the student is 15, 14, or whenever is deemed necessary.

The purpose of creating IEP transition goals is to ensure the teen’s final high school years are relevant to their future plans. The student and the IEP team will set postsecondary goals based on the teen’s aptitudes, abilities, and personal goals for their life after high school.

Parents and teens are very much involved in the process of creating the transition plan. In fact, with the goal being to prepare a teen to become an independent young adult, the child will be encouraged to play a leading role in the development of their transition plan.

Transition plans are an ongoing process. That means progress toward achieving IEP transition goals will be monitored. Data will be collected and assessments will be made which could lead to adjustments to the plan.

Setting IEP Transition Goals

Setting measurable, realistic, and attainable transition goals starts with focusing on a student’s strengths and talents, and figuring out what they want to do with those after high school. Goals should also be designed to teach a student more about independent living skills.

It helps to start by setting a career goal and then working backward to figure out what the student will need to get there. This can include postsecondary training, required high school courses, supports needed along the way, etc.

As part of setting transition goals, it’s also a requirement to list which services are required to help the child reach those goals. Specific transition planning programs students can participate in will vary depending on your county and school district.

We’ll provide you with some examples, but for exact information on the types of transition programs available in your area check with your Department of Education.

Examples of Transition Planning Programs

  • School-to-Work: This program prepares students with disabilities for obtaining employment. This can include learning how to find a job, how to interview for a job, how to keep a job, and so on.
  • Internships: Through internships at participating employers, students may be able to obtain practical on-the-job skills.
  • Transition Partnership Project: This program provides students with the service coordination, job development, and job coaching required to obtain paid employment related to a specific goal.
  • Adult Transition Programs: These are offered to students over the age of 17 and emphasize teaching the student more about independent living and being self-sufficient.

Other resources may include local youth employment programs, summer jobs for youth programs, and local vocational centers offering training for specific occupations.

Assisting Your Child With IEP Transition Goals

In addition to the services and programs your child is entitled to have access to, there are a number of things you as a parent can do to help your child transition into adulthood.

For example, assigning weekly chores and daily responsibilities can help prepare your child for living independently. As a parent, you can also teach your child how to manage money, how to cook their own meals, how to schedule their time and keep appointments, how to get from point A to point B, and so on.

Encourage your child to network with older relatives to learn more about their careers. If and when your child has a career goal in mind, look into visiting potential colleges and workplaces.


IEP transition goals should be designed to create a concrete action plan for postsecondary success in school and day-to-day life. If you would like to learn more about your child’s talents and strengths as the starting point for their IEP transition plan, we encourage you to have them try some of our free games which explore the full range of a child’s multiple intelligences.

3 thoughts on “IEP Transition Goals: Preparing Your Teenager to be a Young Adult

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