Transition Timelines – an Overview for Ages 14-17

By Nancy Mader, Director of Transition Projects, FCSN

Nancy MaderAs each new school year approaches, I anticipate hearing from parents of students age 14-22 asking where they should be in the transition process and what they need to do during the school year to keep their students on track. Luckily, there are guidelines and milestones to help families navigate a successful transition. I think that timelines are a great way to not only keep on track but also to see what is coming up, so that parents can start preparing themselves and their student for life after high school. Each young adult is different and may meet these milestones late, or early, or not at all, but having guidance is always helpful.

This is the first of a two-part series covering transition timelines. For this issue of Newsline we are going to cover ages 14-17. When a student turns 18 they become an adult in the eyes of the law so we will be addressing 18-22 separately. Here are some highlights by age:

Age 14:

  • The student attends and participates in IEP meetings (to the best of their ability) until they graduate or turn 22.
  • The student, family, and school personnel use the Transition Planning Form (TPF) to develop post-secondary vision based on student needs, preferences, and interests.(The TPF should be updated annually at the IEP meeting.)
  • Age-appropriate transition assessments are conducted
  • A preliminary determination is made as to whether the student is on a path to graduate with a high school diploma or if they will stay in school until age 22 and receive a certificate of attendance.
  • Ensure that the student has opportunities to learn self-determination and self-advocacy skills (this should happen every year until
  • graduation or age 22).
  • Apply for Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC) pre-employment transition services (pre-ETS).

Age 15 and 16

  • Update the transition assessment based on preferences and needs.
  • Update the TPF based on assessment and input from the IEP team.
  • Research adult service agencies to determine which will best serve the student after high school.
  • Apply for MRC pre-ETS services (if not done at 14).
  • Identify possible work opportunities in school or in the community

Age 17

  • The school will give notice to the student and parent regarding the Transfer of Parental Rights the year before the student turns 18.
  • Explore the need for guardianship, supported decision-making, and other forms of legal protections.
  • Submit a Chapter 688 referral, if the student is likely to require services from an adult service agency (the referral must be made at least two years before the student is expected to graduate or turn 22).
  • If DDS is the appropriate service agency, complete and submit the application for adult services.
  • Community work experiences should be established if student is not already working.
  • Start to consider and research housing options.
  • Prepare for SSI application.

This is just an overview of some of the important milestones that occur during the transition years. Each student will travel a unique path through school but knowing what is ahead can make the journey a bit easier. Please explore more detailed transition timelines by visiting the following links: