What Is An Individual Transition Plan?


For students with disabilities, transitioning from the structured environment of K-12 education to adulthood can be a daunting prospect.An Individual Transition Plan (ITP) serves as a roadmap for these students, outlining the goals, supports, and services necessary to help them prepare for this next stage of life and achieve successful outcomes.

This guide is for people working in education-related roles who want to create an effective Individual Transition Plan for special education students. It defines ITPs and their components, discusses how ITPs fit within the context of the IEP, and details the 5 steps to successfully creating an ITP.

What is an Individualized Transition Plan?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that all students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) who are 16 years old or older must have an ITP. The 

ITP is a document developed collaboratively by a team that includes the student, parents, guardians, or caregivers, general education teachers, special education teachers, and other relevant professionals.

ITPs focus on the following key transition areas:

Postsecondary Education

  • This section outlines the student’s academic goals for future education or training programs.
  • Students pursuing higher education can consider their options beyond school and the support they might need to be successful in a college or university setting.


  • This key component of transition planning identifies any specific job skills training the student will need to achieve their employment goals.

Employment (Including Supported Employment)

  • Here, the student’s employment aspirations can be noted and potential career paths explored. 
  • This might include identifying potential employers or job shadowing opportunities.

Independent Living

  • This section focuses on fostering the student’s ability to live independently. 
  • This could include developing skills in areas like budgeting, meal preparation, personal care, and using public transportation.

Community Participation

  • In this section, the team involved in transition planning should consider how the student can engage and participate meaningfully in their community. 
  • This might include identifying social and recreational activities or volunteer opportunities.

6 Tips for Creating Effective ITPs

To develop an effective ITP, keep these tips in mind:

Tip 1: Start Early

The ITP development process should begin two to three years before the end of the student’s compulsory education. Planning should ideally start as early as middle school, allowing for plenty of time to identify goals, explore options, consider different careers, and put necessary support in place.

Tip 2: The Student Should Take Center Stage

ITP should be student-centered, meaning the student’s preferences and aspirations take center stage. By giving the student a sense of ownership, you empower them to be invested in the transition process.

Tip 3: Take a Collaborative Approach

Developing and implementing ITPs requires collaboration among a team of professionals. The student and their parents, guardians, or caregivers should work with educators and other relevant service providers, like social workers, whose professional knowledge can provide a comprehensive picture of the student’s needs and strengths.

Tip 4: Make Data-Driven Decisions

The ITP should be informed by data from the student’s IEP, assessments, and progress reports. This data helps the student and their supporting team to identify areas of strength and areas where the student might need additional support.

Tip 5: Regularly Review and Update The Plan

The ITP is a living document that needs to be reviewed and updated as necessary, ensuring it remains relevant and continues to reflect the student’s evolving needs and aspirations. At least once a year, the ITP team should review the student’s progress, assess if their goals need to be adjusted, and update the plan accordingly.

Tip 6: Research & Implement Changes to Planning

There are always ways to improve your transition planning processes and programming, and this should happen gradually over time. Doing your research, evaluating your program, and creating a new blueprint are the three key steps to boosting your transition planning, ensuring a smoother process for everyone involved.

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How to Create an Effective ITP In 5 Steps

Not sure how to write an Individual Transition Plan?

First, get your hands on an Individual Transition Plan sample. Ask for a copy from a colleague who has created ITPs and is an expert in the area. Alternatively, you can search for ITP examples online.

This next section outlines the five steps you should take to create an effective ITP from scratch.

Step 1: Assemble Your Team

Start by assembling the team of people who will be needed to collaboratively create the ITP. These people include:

  • The student
  • Parents, guardians, or caregivers
  • General education teacher(s)
  • Special education teacher(s)

Depending on the situation, the ITP team should also include a transition specialist (if available), a school counselor, and related service providers (such as a speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist).

Step 2: Gather Necessary Information

Once you’ve assembled the team, your next step is to gather all the relevant information about the student. This information will inform the development of transition goals within the ITP.

There are several sources of information that could be helpful here, including:

  • The Student’s Existing IEP: This serves as a foundational resource, providing information on the student’s current levels of performance, as well as their past goals and progress, identified strengths and challenges, and any relevant accommodations or modifications.
  • Student Assessments: These can offer valuable data about the student’s academic skills and interests, as well as any potential areas of difficulty. Assessments could include standardized tests, curriculum-based measures (CBMs), or functional behavior assessments (FBAs).
  • Student Self-Assessments: While these don’t provide formal data, they can still be helpful insights into the student’s aspirations and preferred learning styles. Giving the student the opportunity for self-assessment empowers them and encourages them to take ownership of their transition goals.
  • Data from Classroom Activities. The student may have been encouraged to set personal goals, identify their personal strengths, or explore career opportunities in class transition activities. You can use data from these activities to support the data obtained form other sources.
  • Parent/Guardian Input: Parents and guardians see a side to their children that might not be displayed at school. They can offer their own insights into the student’s strengths, challenges, and home environment.

If this is your first time creating an ITP, now is a good time to look at an Individual Transition Plan example produced by another member of staff to give you guidance on what the plan should contain.

Step 3: Conduct a Present Levels of Performance Analysis

With the information you have gathered, you can now conduct a Present Levels of Performance (PLP) analysis specific to the student’s transition goals. This analysis should explore:

  • Academic Skills: Review data on the student’s current academic performance across subject areas.
  • Functional Skills: Assess the student’s daily living skills, such as personal care, budgeting, and meal preparation.
  • Social and Emotional Skills: Evaluate the student’s social-emotional strengths and areas for development, such as communication, self-advocacy, and relationship building.
  • Career Interests: Explore the student’s career goals and potential pathways to achieve them. This might involve considering vocational assessments or career exploration activities.

Step 4: Set Measurable Transition Goals

Based on the PLP analysis, your next task is to collaboratively develop clear, measurable, and achievable transition goals for each of the five ITP focus areas (postsecondary education, training, employment, independent living, and community participation).

Strong transition goals should be SMART:

  • Specific and actionable, avoiding vague statements.
  • Measurable, with clear criteria to determine progress.
  • Ambitious but attainable, considering the student’s current skills and available supports.
  • Relevant to the student’s aspirations and long-term vision for their future.
  • Time-Bound, meaning that they have a designated timeframe for completion.

When setting goals, be sure to access resources and guidelines for secondary transition planning to ensure your decisions are informed by best practices.

Create a timeline for achieving each transition goal, outlining the steps that will be taken. This ensures everyone involved in the plan understands the sequence of implementation and stays focused on achieving the desired outcomes.

Step 5: Identify Supports and Transition Services

For each transition goal, determine the specific supports and services the student will need to be successful.

This might include academic accommodations, modifications, assistive technology, targeted skill development in specific areas, independent living supports, or social-emotional counseling services.

Also consider specific support that the student may require based on their own unique situation. Examples include speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, or other related services to address their individual needs.

More on Individual Transition Plans

The five key parts of a transition plan are education, training, employment, independent living, and community participation. 

The purpose of an ITP is twofold: to establish a student’s social, recreational, educational, and residential goals; and to establish an interagency linkage.

The most important topics covered by an ITP are employment, independent living, education beyond school, community integration, and self-determination.

Creating an ITP: Next Steps

By making a collaborative effort to follow the steps outlined in this guide, you’ll be able to conduct successful and effective transition planning that’s tailored to your student’s needs and goals. Make sure you establish clear communication protocols within the ITP team so that everyone stays informed about the student’s progress, You may find it helpful to use a practical guide to developing ITPs for tracking all ITP activities. Use the tools and resources that work best for you.
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Jon Izak

Jon Izak is the founder and CEO of Ori Learning.

author avatar
Jon Izak
Jon Izak is the founder and CEO of Ori Learning.