Special Education: Transitional Planning & Post-Secondary Vision

Transitional Planning & Post-Secondary Vision: Massachusetts requires that beginning when the eligible student is 15 for the IEP developed that year, the school district must plan for the student’s need for transition services and the school district must document this discussion annually. This form is to be maintained with the IEP and revisited each year.  

Transition Planning Guidelines. What are “transition services?”

Transition services means a coordinated set of activities that:

  1. Is designed with an outcome process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training, integrated employment, continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living or community participation
  2. Is based on the student’s needs, considering the student’s preferences and interests
  3. Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-secondary adult living objectives and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.

When are transition plans required?  Beginning at age 14, IDEIA 2004 requires a student’s IEP to include a statement of the transition service needs of the child under the applicable components of the child’s IEP The statement should focus on the child’s course of study and include a statement of interagency responsibilities or any needed linkages.

Who plans transition services?  The Team determines transition activities.  The IDEIA 2004 requires that the District invite the student to the Team meeting, regardless of age, if one of the purposes of the meeting is to discuss the student’s transitional service needs.  If the student does not attend the Team meeting, the District must ensure that the student’s preferences and interests are considered.

Discussion about needed transition services must take place at Team meetings for all students age 14. All necessary services will be recorded in the appropriate sections of the IEP including under “Additional Information” in IEP 8. All N1s should document the discussion of transitional planning during the Team meetings.

Transition plans must be discussed and documented when the child is 15 years old.  If the child requires services or courses necessary to reach the goals, IEPs must have measurable post-secondary goals related to training, education, employment, and as necessary, independent living. 

College Testing Information:  The College Board has changed its eligibility requirements for testing accommodations. Districts and parents are reporting that the College Board is rejecting many requests for accommodation because the documentation supporting the request is not sufficient under its new eligibility standards. As a result, parents and students are asking Districts to conduct additional evaluations or eligibility assessments to support students’ requests for accommodation. 

What is the District’s responsibility to provide supporting documentation to the College Board when a student has requested accommodations on College Board tests (e.g., PSAT/NMSQT, SAT or AP)?  

The District provides the College Board with documentation supporting the student’s request for accommodation when such documentation is available, consistent with the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations (see 603 CMR 23.00),

In some cases, the College Board is asking that the student provide documentation of specific additional assessments or updated assessment information that the District does not need in order to deliver appropriate special education services to the student.  The District is not obligated to provide or pay for updated or additional assessments to support a student’s request for accommodation on College Board examinations if such assessment information does not already exist and is not necessary for the appropriate special educational program for the student at the time of the request.  The parent is responsible for paying for additional assessments that are needed for the sole purpose of supporting the student’s request for accommodation on the College Board examinations. 

If the parent requests an evaluation or assessment, whether or not the request describes the reason for the request, the District must respond in accordance with the requirements of state and federal special education law. The District may either agree or disagree to conduct such an assessment and provide notice to the parent of the decision.  The District’s decision not to conduct the assessment is subject to the due process requirements of the law.

If a request for an evaluation is made for the purpose of demonstrating a need for accommodations on College Board tests, and the school District has no reason to believe the student has a disability or needs special education services, then the District can deny the request for an eligibility evaluation; the District must notify the parent of the decision.

Post-Secondary Vision:  In collaboration with the family, consider the student’s preferences and interests, and the desired outcomes for post-secondary education/ training, employment, and adult living. This section should correspond with the vision statement on IEP 1.

The vision statement, included as part of IEP 1, aids Team Members in determining the student’s transition needs that may be reflected on IEP 2 and/or IEP 3.  Transition goals should be recorded on IEP 4 and transition services should be recorded on IEP 5.  As a student approaches graduation, the Team must also consider the student’s graduation status, the need for a Chapter 688 referral and the involvement of adult service agencies.  As the student nears or reaches age seventeen, the Team must discuss the transfer of rights at age of majority.  These last items would be documented under Additional Information on IEP 8. In the event a student does not attend the Team meeting prior to the student’s seventeenth birthday, written notification will be sent to both the parent(s) and student explaining the transfer of rights options at age eighteen.

Upon Reaching the Age of Twenty -Two: When students with disabilities graduate from school or turn 22 years of age, they move from an entitlement to a non-entitlement system.  As adults, while they may be eligible for services from adult service agencies, these services are not guaranteed.  

For students, approaching graduation or the age of twenty-two (22), the Team determines whether the student is likely to require continuing services from adult human services agencies.  In such circumstances, a referral is made to the Bureau of Transitional Planning in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services in accordance with the requirements of Massachusetts law – known as Chapter 688.  Filing a Chapter 688 referral creates a documented need for services and supports for adults with severe disabilities.  Two years before a student graduates, the IEP Team must decide if a referral is necessary and it must be documented in the IEP on IEP – 8. A referral form must be signed by a parent/guardian, or a student 80 years of age or older.

 The Director of special education is responsible for electronically sending the application to the appropriate agencies (Chapter 688). A copy is kept in the student’s file and another is given to the parent/student.

If a student is capable of working more than twenty (20) hours per week, the Team should consider referring the student directly to their local office of the MA Rehabilitation Commission. 

Chapter 688 referrals are for students who are expected to be capable of working twenty (20) or less hours per week.

Any student with Autism or Intellectual Disability may be referred to DDS regardless.

Eligible Students with Behavior Problems: If an eligible student’s behavior affects performance in the general curriculum, then the interfering behavior should be reflected on IEP 2.  If an eligible student’s behavior affects other areas of educational need, then the interfering behavior should be reflected on IEP 3.  If an eligible student’s behavior affects performance in the general curriculum and in other areas of educational need, then the interfering behavior should be reflected in both locations on the IEP.  Teams are reminded that IDEIA-2004 requires pro-active steps in behavior management and in the provision of positive behavioral supports for eligible students whose behavior impedes their learning or the learning of others.

Summary of Student Performance: Before a student graduates, a Summary of Student Performance form must be filled out. The Director of special education will meet with each individual student and their advisor or social worker to discuss. The student will be given a copy of the summary along with copies of their IEP and most recent evaluations. 

The following guide can be used to assist districts in meeting IDEA 2004 requirements for students whose special education eligibility terminates due to graduation or exceeding the age eligibility requirements.  Under these new provisions, the district shall provide the student with a summary of the student’s academic achievement and functional performance, which includes recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting their desired postsecondary outcomes.



Student   Date

District School

Reason for termination of eligibility (circle one):     Graduated     Exceeds age limit


Provide a written summary of the following:

  • Student’s academic achievement:

  • Student’s functional performance:

  • Recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting their desired postsecondary outcomes (Include information on postsecondary courses of study, employment, community experiences, and daily living skills and needs):  



Completed by the following school personnel:


Position: Date Competed: