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Transition Planning for Students with Disabilities

Simply put, transition planning is helping students with disabilities and their families think about their life after high school. The process helps students identify long-range goals, designing the high school experience to ensure that students gain the skills and connections they need to achieve these goals after high school. Transition includes both annual and cyclical federal data collections and monitoring.

Indicator 13: Postsecondary Transition Plan

Indicator 13 is a federal mandate requiring youth aged 16 and older to have an IEP with a postsecondary transition plan. In Wisconsin, transition requirements begin no later than in the first individualized education program (IEP) that will be in effect when the child is 14 and updated annually thereafter. The transition requirements are found in Wisconsin Statute 115.787(2)(g)1.

A postsecondary transition plan must include measurable postsecondary goals for students based on age-appropriate transition assessments related to training or education, employment, and independent living skills (if appropriate) and a description of transition services including courses of study needed to assist the students in reaching their goals. There also must be evidence that the student was invited to the IEP team meeting where transition services are to be discussed and evidence that, if appropriate, a representative of any participating agency was invited to the IEP team meeting with the prior consent of the parent or student who has reached the age of majority.

For additional information, see the State Performance Plan, Indicator 13 which contains details of the Indicator 13 Assessment. With stakeholder input, the DPI has developed a web-based IEP: Postsecondary Transition Plan (PTP) that assists LEAs to meet the transition requirements with 100% compliance while allowing for individualization to meet student needs.

Indicator 14: Postsecondary Outcomes

Indicator 14 helps describe the further education and competitive employment experiences of youth with disabilities as they transition from high school to adult life. Indicator 14 is an unduplicated, hierarchical count of the activities youth are participating in one year after leaving high school. Such activities include higher education, other postsecondary education, competitive employment, or other employment. For more information, see the State Performance Plan, Indicator 14.

Data for Indicator 14 is collected through the Post School Outcomes survey and website. See the Cyclical Monitoring for training and technical assistance on the sampling indicators and 2021-2026 procedural compliance cycle.

Transition Improvement Grant (TIG)

The Transition Improvement Grant (TIG) is designed to strengthen and accelerate the transition process in Wisconsin schools to increase high school graduation rates, decrease dropout rates, improve the quality of postsecondary transition plans (PTP), and develop strong career, college, and community readiness among students with disabilities through positive post school outcomes. The TIG has developed several tools which incorporate reviewing data, strategic planning, and implementation of transition practices to improve outcomes for students with disabilities. Through this process, the TIG also encourages partnerships with outside agency connections and attendance at County Communities on Transition (CCOT).

Watch the brief TIG Story video for more information about the Transition Improvement Grant.

TIG has ten full time staff members provide both technical assistance and continuous improvement supports to Wisconsin school districts. For a listing of current staff, go to the TIG staff web page.

If you have any questions about the TIG, please contact Alicia Reinhard, Transition Improvement Grant Director, at at or 608-266-1146.

Transition and Outside Agency Partners

A critical part of the transition process is collaboration between students, parents and legal decision makers, teachers, and outside agency representatives. Transition planning formally begins when a student turns 14 years old, however, planning for this process begins early in childhood. It is important for a student, with their family and network of support, to have the opportunity to explore their potential as early as possible.

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI), Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), and Department of Health Services (DHS) have the primary responsibility for providing transition services to students and youth with disabilities. The Interagency Agreement on Transition outlines a plan to coordinate activities and programs within each agency to support positive transition into competitive integrated employment (CIE).

Interagency documents are intended to clearly define necessary relationships, policies, and procedures between the DVR, the DPI and the DHS in order to create common understandings and establish collaborative efforts regarding services that will ultimately improve employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

Resources for Interagency Collaboration

  • Transition Action Guide for Post School Planning: In support of the Interagency Agreement, this Technical Assistance Guide (TAG) was developed to assist in the improvement of communication, coordination, and services for students with disabilities transitioning from school to work. It was designed to be useful for all persons and agencies (stakeholders) involved in the transition process. (Revised 2021)
  • Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): The WIOA includes new responsibilities for schools, in partnership with the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) and adult services, to support students and youth with disabilities to transition from school to college and/or competitive integrated employment.
  • Wisconsin County Community on Transition (CCoT) Toolkit: The CCoT Toolkit was created by the Transition Improvement Grant (TIG), under the direction of the Wisconsin Community on Transition (WiCoT), to help guide CCoTs through the process of developing, implementing, and maintaining a strong team to support success for students with disabilities.
Opening Doors Series to Support Post Secondary Transition

The Opening Doors series provides a process of planning for life after high school that includes making decisions, planning, and taking actions. Specifically, it is a tool for students receiving special education services through an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) to use as they begin to plan for a successful future. There are four Opening Door guides to assist with transition planning.

Other Special Education Transition Resources