Friday, November 2, 2012

Special Education Law 101 - Part VIII

Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for...
Seal of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is the most recent post in the continuing series on  an introduction to special education law.  The series is meant to be a solid introduction for newbies as well as a good review for seasoned special ed law vets. In today's post we will be discussing the transition services that must be given when a special education student nears graduation.


              The IDEA defines transition services as a coordinated set of activities designed to be a results oriented process that focuses upon the individual child’s needs, strengths and preferences.  IDEA, § 602 (34).  Not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child is 16 years old and each year thereafter, the IDEA requires that the IEP contain measurable post secondary goals; the transition services needed to achieve those goals; and beginning at one year before the child reaches the age of majority, a statement that the student has been informed regarding transfer of rights.  IDEA § 614 (d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII).  34 C.F.R. § 300.43, 300.320(b) Policy 2419, Ch. 5, § 2(F).
Note: When IDEA was reauthorized in 2004 the definition of transition was changed by Congress from an "outcome" oriented process to a "results" oriented process.  Don't these two words mean exactly the same thing?  Any thoughts? 

See, Questions and Answers on Secondary Transition 57 IDELR 231 (OSERS 9/1/11); In Park Hill Sch Dist v. Dass ex rel DD & KD 655 F.3d 762, 57 IDELR 121 (8th Cir. 9/9/11), the Eighth Circuit ruled that a transition plan is required by IDEA only for 16+ students regarding life after school, but not for students returning to public school.
Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Post-secondary “Outcomes” are predictions of success after the student exits high school AND successfully completes the NEXT step. Results are measured growth from individual activities such as instruction or training. The school system is held accountable for student growth, not outcomes. Excellent instruction and informed planning produce growth towards an outcome. Why can’t we hold a high school district responsible for a student who doesn’t reach their PS outcome?
    We have always known there are environmental effects on learning: health, nutrition, nurturing, etc… Because of these few issues, outside of the control of the local school district, we do not hold districts solely responsible for a student's success or failure. Additionally, the new stressors today are significant and real. Factors that decrease and even prohibit growth in learning now include the recession, political apathy, redefining the American dream, increased access to drugs and alcohol, and increasingly - technology (adverse effect of the screener generation facing todays youth).
    As students exit our systems, participating in an education based on College Readiness for all (their parent’ and government’s dream, not theirs), we are experiencing surges of college dropouts. Is that really, also, the responsibility of the high schools? Colleges are blaming high schools for not preparing the youth, and not their admission policies, which now accept those who would have never been accepted for institutions of Higher Learning before this surge. If you want College for all, then support the whole Bell Curve in your colleges. Finally, outcomes should be based on assessments-what can they do? …and what standards or skills does a student want to learn and master, and not what piece of paper they want (diploma, certificate, degree...), what building they want to attend (college, university, technical school...) , or what is their dream job. Those have no standard definition.

  3. Thanks HSTB,

    You make some good points.

    I still don't get the difference between outcome and results, but it's probably the legal training getting in the way!


  4. I have always explained the difference as this:

    1. outcomes = The way a thing turns out; a consequence:
    2. results = A consequence, effect, or outcome of something

    Both are nouns but a subtle difference is that with results we are looking at the inputs (i.e. the "something") that the school provides that lead to progress toward the goals, but with outcomes we were looking at the end result as a measure without consideration of what the school did to influence those outcomes (did it happen or not).

    I would be interested in knowing your thoughts on my minor distinctions.


  5. Mary,

    Your mind is probably more subtle than mine (Actually I get that a lot)

    The way I see it , the focus should be upon what happens to the kid, regardless of what we call it. Very few courts or hos find transition efforts to be inadequate, perhaps because the result or outcome depends upon both the school and other agencies/persons.

    I'll have to think more about this, but i really appreciate your explanation as it is the first time anyone has tried to answer thios question for me.