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10 Oct

Transition Specialists: What They Do and Why It’s so Valuable

The U.S. Department of Labor reports that among individuals with disabilities between 20 and 24 years of age, the employment-population ratio was 36.9 percent in 2017. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for individuals without a disability in this age cohort was 67.3 percent.1

In order to improve post-school outcomes for this vulnerable segment of the population, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates that transition services be provided to youth with disabilities, formalized as part of each such student’s legally required Individualized Education Program (IEP) no later than when the student turns 16 (or younger in some states). Schools are responsible for assessing the strengths, needs and preferences of the student; developing measurable postsecondary education employment and independent living goals; and coordinating the services needed to meet these goals.

Many secondary special education teachers are unprepared to plan for and deliver these transition services, which can lead to poor student outcomes in terms of their career development, future education, employment and life in their communities.

Transition planning requires careful coordination of services and supports in order to comply with legal requirements and to ensure that students with disabilities have the skills, experiences and support networks in place to transition to positive post-school outcomes. For this reason, many school districts employ specialists who focus on coordinating and implementing transition services. These professionals are sometimes referred to as transition coordinators or transition specialists, and they may be responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating transition education and services at the school and system level. They work alongside other educators, families and community agency representatives to ensure that their students achieve their postsecondary goals.


Educators hoping to become transition specialists may want to pursue a graduate degree such as the online Master’s in Secondary Special Education and Transition from the University of Kansas School of Education. If you think this advanced credential may benefit your education career as well as your students, consider pursuing your graduate studies in the #1 special education graduate program in the country.2

1 Retrieved on September 25, 2018, from www.bls.gov/news.release/disabl.t01.htm
2 Retrieved on September 25, 2018, from usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/university-of-kansas-155317/overall-rankings

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