Secondary Transition Guidance

Transition services are a coordinated set of activities designed to help the child move from school to post-school activities. The age at which transition planning must begin, however, differs under federal and state law. Under Texas law, not later than when a student reaches 14 years of age, the Admission, Review, and Dismissal (ARD) Committee must consider and, if appropriate, address the following issues in the individualized education program (IEP):

  1. Appropriate student involvement in the student's transition to life outside the public school system;

  2. If the student is younger than 18 years of age, appropriate involvement in the student's transition by the student's parents and other persons invited to participate by: a. The student's parents; or b. The school district in which the student is enrolled;

  3. If the student is at least 18 years of age, involvement in the student's transition and future by the student's parents and other persons, if the parent or other person; a. Is invited to participate by the student or the school district in which the student is enrolled; or b. Has the student's consent to participate under a supported decision-making agreement;

  4. Appropriate postsecondary education options, including preparation for postsecondary level coursework;

  5. An appropriate functional vocational evaluation;

  6. Appropriate employment goals and objectives;

  7. If the student is at least 18 years of age, the availability of age-appropriate instructional environments, including community settings or environments that prepare the student for postsecondary education or training, competitive integrated employment, or independent living, in coordination with the student's transition goals and objectives;

  8. Appropriate independent living goals and objectives;

  9. Appropriate circumstances for facilitating a referral of a student or the student's parents to a governmental agency for services or public benefits, including a referral to a governmental agency to place the student on a waiting list for public benefits available to the student; and

  10. The use and availability of appropriate:
    a. Supplementary aids, services, curricula, and other opportunities to assist the student in developing decision-making skills; and
    b. Supports and services to foster the student's independence and self-determination, including a supported decision-making agreement.

Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the ARD Committee, the IEP must include appropriate measurable post-secondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills. The IEP must include transition services, including courses of study, needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.

For support to understand transition planning requirements and recommended practices, see the following information or visit Texas SPED Support.

State Resources

As of September 1, 2018, a Notice of Transfer of Rights Model Form with Information and Resources is available for use by school districts in notifying students and parents about information and resources regarding guardianship and alternatives to guardianship.  Included is a list of government services and public benefits for which referral may be appropriate. A Spanish-language Transfer of Rights Model Form is also available.

A Local Education Agency (LEA) is required, not later than one year before the 18th birthday of a student with a disability, to provide to the student and the student’s parent:

  1. Written notice regarding the transfer of rights and information and information and resources regarding guardianship, alternatives to guardianship, including supported decision-making agreement and other supports and services that may enable the student to live independently; and
  2. Ensure that the student’s IEP includes a statement that the district provided written notice.

Additionally, the LEA is required to provide information regarding guardianship or alternatives to guardianship, if the student or student’s parents request it.

The Student-Centered Transitions Network is led by The Garrett Center on Transition and Disability Studies. The Garrett Center coordinates statewide activities designed to build collaborative infrastructures among students, families, schools, districts, and communities to equip all students with disabilities to be actively involved in planning, communicating, and evaluating progress in meeting their transition goals from early childhood through high school graduation and post-secondary readiness.

The Texas Transition” with The Texas Transition and Employment Guide provides information on statewide services and programs that assist students with disabilities in the transition to life outside of the public school system.

A Legal Framework addressing Transition Services is available from ESC 18.

The Texas Project First website provides parents with information about Special Education in Texas. On the site’s home page, parents will find information most relevant to the age group of their child. Transition topics can be found under Age Ranges 11-16 and 17 -21.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) participated with the Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Workforce Commission on an Employment-First Task Force, created by the 83rd Texas Legislature, Regular Session (2013). During its tenure, the task force was responsible for promoting competitive employment opportunities that provide a living wage for individuals with disabilities, including the state's Employment-First Policy. TEA formally adopted the policy.

Effective July 15, 2022, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The MOU is to promote collaboration in the delivery of transition services, including pre-employment transition services, for students with disabilities transitioning from secondary education to employment and independent living mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), as amended, and the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The implementing regulations for both WIOA and IDEA require the formalization of interagency agreements concerning the transition services for students with disabilities who have an Individualized Education Program (IEP). The MOU will help improve the dissemination of information about TWC’s Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services and specify the process TEA and TWC will use to develop and update the mechanism used to target students.

State Agencies

The Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities is a 27-member board that ensures all Texans with developmental disabilities have the opportunity to become independent, productive and valued members of their communities. The Council works to ensure that the service delivery system provides comprehensive services and supports that are easy to access and that are cost effective.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board helps Texas meet the goals of the state’s higher education plan, Closing the Gaps by 2015. Meeting these goals means a bright future of economic vitality, social independence, and civic engagement for the citizens of Texas.

National Resources

The following resources provide information at the national level: 

The National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE) has been providing dedicated leadership to continuously improve educational services and outcomes for students with disabilities in the states and federal territories for 70 years. Focusing on policies and practices to improve educational outcomes for students with disabilities is critical to ensuring their full participation and contribution in education, employment and society.

National Center on Secondary Education and Transition coordinates national resources, offers technical assistance, and disseminates information related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities in order to create opportunities for youth to achieve successful futures.

The Post-Outcomes Network assists with the dissemination of research findings and develops professional papers, briefs, teaching materials, and other publications designed to share information with a wide and diverse audience about research, promising practices, and policy recommendations.

The National Dropout Prevention Center for Students with Disabilities supports the national implementation IDEA provisions to ensure successful school outcomes for students with disabilities by assisting local education agencies to increase school completion rates and decrease dropout rates among students with disabilities.

The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition (NTACT)assists states in building capacity to support and improve transition planning, services, and outcomes for youth with disabilities. Objectives include assisting State Education Agencies with collecting data on IDEA (2004) Part B State Performance Plan Indicator 13 and using that data to improve transition services.

The US Department of Education OSEP improves results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities aged birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to states and local districts.