Making a great transition for students in special ed

By: | January 11, 2019
Hannibal Public School District’s Basic Employment Skills Training program helps students in special ed learn life skills through work experience at a local hospital.Hannibal Public School District’s Basic Employment Skills Training program helps students in special ed learn life skills through work experience at a local hospital.

Successful transition plans exist for special ed students, but not all work as effectively as do others. The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition offers research-based predictors that lead to better post-K12 outcomes.

David Test, the center’s co-project director and professor of special education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, says the most crucial predictors include:

1. Special ed students invested in their own IEP process.

The best schools teach students to lead their IEP and become involved in transition planning. Some free and low-cost curriculums show educators how to teach kids how to do this. The transition plan then guides the student to make choices that support post-K12 goals.

2. Work-based learning.

This could be school-based, such as working in the spirit shop or snack bar, or through a paid or unpaid internship. Work experience teaches a particular set of vocational skills and fosters myriad soft skills.


Main story: Moving forward with college and careers in special education


3. Interagency collaboration.

Schools need to work actively to connect special ed students to service agencies and community organizations. The University of North Carolina at Charlotte developed one proven method of connection—called CIRCLES (Communicating Interagency Relationships and Collaborative Linkages for Exceptional Students). The Institute for Educational Sciences funds the program.

“If the transition plans are actually looked at and used—as opposed to being placed in a drawer—they can become a good way to guide students,” Test says.