Transition Specialists: What they do and why it's so valuable
Students with disabilities are currently falling behind their non-disabled peers in obtaining the means to create economically viable, healthy, productive lives. The rate of unemployment for those with disabilities is essentially double that of those without. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that among persons with a disability age 20 to 24, the employment-population ratio was just 31.6% in August 2014. In contrast, the employment-population ratio for those without a disability was 65%*.
In response to these dismal post-school outcomes for youth with disabilities, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) mandates the provision of transition services for youth, beginning not later than the IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16 (or younger in some states). Schools are responsible for assessing the strengths, needs, and preferences of the student; developing appropriate postsecondary goals, and coordinating services needed to meet the postsecondary goals.
It is important that all secondary special educators have some knowledge of the transition planning process. Many school districts have specialists who focus on transition services. These professionals are sometimes referred to as Transition Coordinators or Transition Specialists. These specialists may be responsible for planning, implementing, and evaluation of transition education and services at the school and system level. They work alongside other educators, families, and communities to ensure that their students obtain their postsecondary goals.
Educators hoping to become Transition Specialists may take a Masters of Special Education or graduate program in Transition. These are typically anywhere from 12-30 credits and may involve a practicum. Licensed teachers may also apply for a “Transition Specialist Endorsement.” Requirements for an endorsement will vary by state.