In this article, we’ll explore the 4 key components of a successful transition curriculum. We’ll provide useful tips on how to begin the IEP transition planning process and also examine the role of a comprehensive curriculum for ensuring the post-secondary success of students with disabilities.
- IEP transition planning must begin by assessing individual needs and setting SMART goals and objectives for each student.
- To ensure a successful transition, a transition curriculum must focus on: skills development, community engagement, experiential learning, preparation for college and employment, as well as monitoring and evaluating effectiveness.
- Studies suggest that transition services can increase employability and academic success for students with disabilities.
Where to begin with IEP transition planning?
Discover a few short, practical steps to creating short-term objectives that help educators meet their students’ IEP goals.
4 Key elements of a successful transition curriculum
1. Skills development
Once individualized goals have been set, the next step is to utilize a curriculum that helps students achieve these goals. This may involve teaching life skills, such as personal care, budgeting, and home management, as well as vocational and soft skills, such as computer skills, workplace etiquette, and study skills.
It is important to provide students with opportunities to practice these skills in real-life situations, such as through job shadowing, volunteer work, and internships. This will help them build confidence and gain valuable experience, making them more prepared for the challenges they will face in the future.
To get a better sense of how skill development can work as part of your transition curriculum, we’ve prepared a selection of free lesson plans you can browse below:
2. Community engagement and experiential learning
3. Post-secondary education preparation
For students who wish to continue their education after high school, preparation for post-secondary education should be a key component of the transition curriculum. This includes teaching students about different types of colleges, vocational schools, and other post-secondary options. Additionally, students should learn about the college application process, financial aid, and other aspects of post-secondary education.
To maximize the success of your curriculum, you should also break it down into distinct phases with specific timelines. You can have phases for skills development, career exploration and post-secondary planning or anything else that fits the student’s IEP objectives. Regardless of how you structure the curriculum, having well-defined timelines for each stage is vital for helping parents, students and educators understand the progression.
Many successful curricula also enhance student transition by involving specialist services. These are organizations who specialize in providing individuals with disabilities with guidance, access to resources and expertise in areas of employment and post-secondary education.
4. Monitoring and evaluation
Finally, it is essential to regularly monitor and evaluate the success of the transition curriculum. This will help to identify areas that need improvement and to make any necessary adjustments to the curriculum.
The evaluation process should involve not only the teachers and administrators but also the students and their families. This will provide a more comprehensive picture of the impact of the curriculum and will ensure that it remains relevant and effective over time.
Consider what progress-tracking measures are in place in your current learning environments and whether they provide an accurate and comprehensive picture of how students are doing. Effective transition support relies on having the most up-to-date data on student progress.
Further research on the benefits of transition curricula
A growing number of research papers and case studies serve to demonstrate the effectiveness of transition planning in preparing students for post-secondary success. Some key findings include:
- Students who received adequate transition planning in high school were more likely to have higher college GPA’s and earned credits by their sophomore year. (Lightner, Kipps-Vaughn, Schulte, & Trice, 2012)
- A control group study involving 10 participants who benefited from transition planning showed they were all in employment one year after graduation. (Lindstrom et al., 2011)
- Numerous studies show how the planning process can decrease or eliminate many of the barriers that limit a student’s success after leaving high school. (McDonnell, Ferguson, and Mathot-Buckner, 1992)
For a more detailed exploration of how an effective transition curriculum can ensure successful outcomes for students, check out our comprehensive case study with Colonial Intermediate: