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Special Education

Technical Assistance Advisory SPED 2009-1

Transition Planning to Begin at Age 14

To:Middle and High School Principals, Administrators of Special Education, and Other Interested Parties
From:Marcia Mittnacht
State Director of Special Education
Date:September 3, 2008
C:Superintendents of Schools
Charter School Leaders

The purpose of this advisory is to highlight a recent law passed by the Massachusetts Legislature. On August 6, 2008, the Massachusetts Legislature approved Chapter 285 of the Acts of 2008, which amends Section 2 of c.71B (the Massachusetts special education statute) by adding the following paragraph:

Beginning age 14 or sooner if determined appropriate by an individualized education program team, school age children with disabilities shall be entitled to transition services and measurable postsecondary goals, as provided under the federal Individual with Disabilities Education Act, 20 USC sec. 1400, et sec. 1

The transition services that school districts are required to provide under Chapter 285 continue to be defined by the federal IDEA 2004. IDEA 2004 defines transition services as a "coordinated set of activities designed to be within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child's movement from school to post-school activities."2 Under IDEA 2004, transition planning must take place for the student who is 15 years of age and, if needed, the IEP Team must include appropriate goals related to postsecondary training, education, employment, and independent living skills in the student's IEP.3

However, with the passage of Chapter 285, in Massachusetts transition planning must now begin when the student is 14 years of age. Therefore, Massachusetts now requires that beginning when the eligible student is 14, the school district must plan for the student's need for transition services and the school district must document this discussion annually. School districts must use the Transition Planning Form (28M/9)4 developed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department). If needed, appropriate goals must be reflected in the IEP that is developed for the student who is 14 years of age. The student must be invited to all IEP meetings where the Team discusses the student's transition planning.

The Department has developed a training module5 on the transition planning process that schools may use to assist staff in understanding this process. In particular, middle school staff may find the training module helpful.

The Department expects districts to conduct training as needed and to initiate transition planning for all 14 year olds eligible for special education during the course of the 2008-2009 school year. Therefore, by the end of this school year all students with disabilities aged 14 years or older should have a completed Transition Planning Form that will be updated annually. The Department will begin monitoring of transition planning for 14 year olds as of the 2009-2010 school year.

1 Massachusetts Session Laws: Chapter 285 of the Acts of 2008

2 34 CFR. § 300.43 (2006).

3 See Administrative Advisory SPED 2006-1: Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act --Initial Implications for School District Practices

4 See Transition Planning Form (TPF) . For additional information, please see the Transition Planning Guide, available at Guidance for Implementing IDEA 2004 webpage.

5 See Module Four: Using the Transition Planning Form (28/9).

Last Updated: September 9, 2008

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