After High School

Transition out of High School

For students with IEPs, “Transition” means planning for adulthood. Planning should begin when students turn 12. It should continue every year until a student either:

  • Graduates, or
  • Turns 21 years of age

Transitioning focuses on improving students’:

  • Academic achievement
  • Functional achievement

And it involves preparing students for further education, employment, and/or independent living.

It is a student-centered process. That means that it addresses the unique strengths, needs, and preferences of each student.

The Team

The school-based Transition Planning Team is responsible for leading this process. The team includes:

  • The student
  • Parent/Guardian(s)
  • IEP Team
  • Teachers
  • Related service providers
  • Administrators
  • Participating agencies (if applicable)

The Plan

Transition plans need to support the students’ goals for adult life. These can include:

  • College
  • Vocational education
  • Integrated employment and/or supported employment
  • Continuing and adult education
  • Adult services
  • Independent living
  • Community participation

Transition Timeline

Age 12

A Level I Assessment is completed during the school year when a student turns 12 (this includes students who turn 12 during the summer). It is reviewed and updated once every year at the annual IEP meeting.

The assessment includes:

Student Interview

  • To determine interests, needs, preferences, skills and abilities
  • A member of the Transition Planning Team may use
    • a verbal interview
    • written interview
    • picture icons to touch and point
    • other assessment tools based on the student's ability

Parent/Guardian Interview

  • This is completed in the parent/guardian's preferred language in a conference
  • The conference can be conducted in person at the school or over the phone

Teacher Interview/Questionnaire

  • A current teacher examines
    • Records
    • Assessments
    • Reports on a student's levels of performance

The Transition Planning Team may consider other assessments if additional information is needed to determine a student's post-secondary interests, goals, and abilities.

Age 14

The IEP team will discuss transition at this IEP meeting and at every annual review thereafter. Students must be invited to the IEP meeting when transition services may be discussed. The IEP that goes into effect during the school year in which your child turns 15 must include transition services.

Agency Participation

The IEP team may ask for your consent to invite a representative of an agency that can help provide or pay for transition services. This representative may serve to assist you in understanding the supports that may be available for your child after the end of high school. For more information on agencies, services, and resources, see below.

Measurable Post-Secondary Goals

You and your child should think about what their goals are for after they leave high school.

Post-secondary goals can be in the areas of:

  • Education/training
  • Employment
  • Independent living (as appropriate)

During the IEP meeting, the IEP team will consider input from you and your child, and will also discuss information contained in the Assessments. The Measurable Post-Secondary Goals will be included on the IEP.

Coordinated Set of Transition Activities

The IEP team will also discuss the set of activities, services, and supports that will assist your child's movement from school to post-school activities. These include the services that will support both:

  • Your child's achievement of their post-secondary goals, and
  • Their movement from school to post-school settings.

This set of activities will be based on your child's individual needs, taking into account their strengths, preferences, and interests. They may include:

  • Instruction;
  • Related services;
  • Community experiences;
  • The development of employment goals and other post-school adult living objectives; and
  • The achievement of daily living skills, where appropriate.

The Coordinated Set of Transition Activities will also note who is responsible for providing these services.

Graduation or Reaching Age 21

Students with IEPs may attend school until they graduate or until the end of the school year in which they turn 21. During your child's final year of high school, you should receive an exit summary. The exit summary will include information about your child’s:

  • Abilities
  • Skills
  • Needs
  • Limitations

Recommendations are made on how to assist your child in meeting their post-secondary goals. These recommendations may be in the areas of:

  • Establishing eligibility for reasonable accommodations and supports in post-secondary settings, the workplace, and the community;
  • Accessing appropriate adult services;
  • Understanding the impact of your child's disability; and/or
  • Communicating your child's strengths and needs, including supports that would be helpful in post-school life.

Credentials and Graduation Pathways

All students are encouraged to work toward the highest diploma option available.


The following diplomas are available to students with disabilities on graduating from high school:

  • Advanced Regents diploma
  • Regents diploma
  • Local diploma: available to students who are eligible for the Safety Net, which provides additional flexibility to earn a local diploma. Safety Net options are available to:
    • Students with an IEP
    • Students who were declassified in grades 8-12 and whose last IEP specifies that they are eligible for the Safety Net; and
    • Students who have a Section 504 Plan that specifies that they are eligible for the Safety Net.

Find out more on the Graduation Requirements page.


Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential
  • Recognizes a student's mastery of the CDOS learning standards and the completion of a career preparation program. It is designed to provide students with IEPs an opportunity to develop the skills to succeed in work after high school.
  • Available to students with IEPs who participate in standard assessment.
  • May be awarded as an endorsement to a Regents diploma or local diploma, or as the student's sole exiting credential from high school.

Schools must provide students who earn only a CDOS written confirmation that they are eligible to return and earn a diploma until they reach age 21.

Skills and Achievement Commencement Credential
  • Only available to students with severe cognitive disabilities who are eligible to take the NY State Alternate Assessment and have attended school for no less than 12 years, excluding kindergarten.
  • Must be accompanied by a summary of the student’s levels of achievement in academic and career development and occupational studies.

College Considerations for Students with Disabilities

There are no IEPs in college. Students with disabilities may choose to seek the support of a college or university’s disability office. If the student is found eligible, the disability office will develop an accommodation plan based on the documentation that the student provides. Colleges or universities are not required to provide modifications, which may alter the content that students are required to learn.

Schools must support transition planning for all students with IEPs. For students considering higher education, IEP teams must:

  • As early as the student’s first year of high school, advise students and families on the difference between accommodations in K-12 vs. higher education
  • Ensure that students who plan to continue their education beyond high school understand the process to obtain disability support from their IHE of choice, if needed
  • Support students in locating the disability office at the IHE of their choice 
  • Provide students and families information on Transition & College and Access Centers, which can support students with this process

Visit the College and Career Planning page to find out more.

Preparing for College

Testing Accommodations on the PSAT and SAT

The College Board oversees eligibility for accommodations on the PSAT, SAT, and Advanced Placement (AP) exams. This means that students do not automatically receive accommodations documented in the IEP or 504.

If you want the SSD Coordinator to submit the application on your behalf, you must give them consent to do so. Beginning the first year of high school, families should work with the SAT Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) Coordinator to submit an application to the College Board by:

  • Completing the Consent Form to Submit Accommodations Requests for College Board Exams.
  • Once this is done, please return the form to your child’s SSD Coordinator.
Once testing accommodations are granted, the College Board will recognize the accommodations until high school graduation, even if your child changes schools. To learn more about the College Board accommodations process and download the application, please visit the College Board webpage about students with disabilities.

Alternative College Experiences for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

The Higher Education Opportunity Act improves access to postsecondary education for students with intellectual disabilities (ID). Alternative college experiences create opportunities for students with ID to attend and be successful in higher education. You can find information about financial aid, Transition Post-secondary Education Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSID) and a National Coordinating Center.

Transition and College Access Centers (TCACs)

TCACs help students with IEPs and their families prepare for the transition from school to adult life. Contact the center in your borough or visit them for help with:

  • Transition assessments to determine interests and needs
  • College readiness resources and supports
  • Work-based learning opportunities
  • And more!

Register for a workshop and find contact information at the TCACs section of the Contacts and Resources page.

Agencies, Services and Resources

With parental consent (or the consent of a student who is 18 years of age or older), the school may invite a representative of an agency that can help provide or pay for transition services. If an invited agency’s representative is unable to attend, the team must take other steps to involve the agency. Below is a list of some agencies, services or resources that may be involved in a student’s transition.

There are no age limits for requesting OPWDD eligibility. However, it's important to do so when students turn 18 so that they can receive adult services.

  • The Office of Mental Health (OMH): Promotes the mental health and well-being of all New Yorkers. They also support children and families in their social and emotional development.
  • INCLUDE NYC: Its Parent Center works with families and children with all disabilities, across all boroughs. They help families understand, navigate, and access the services and resources students need to develop to their full potential.

Family Guide to Transition Planning

A guide for families and students with disabilities on the planning for adulthood. 

Hardcopies of the Family Guide to Transition Planning are available at the TCACs or by making a request to