Elementary to Middle School/Junior High School
Students at this level deal with all of the challenges of attending multiple classes: different teacher expectations in each class, possibly different classmates in each class, following a schedule, and organizing multiple sets of materials. In addition, students are dealing with more and new classmates, larger buildings, and more lunch choices in the cafeteria ? all of this on top of changes and challenges related to maturation!
It is very important, at this time, for families to realize that the relationship with the school may be different than it was with the elementary school. General education teachers are working with many more students, and therefore many more parents, and may not develop the relationships with students and parents that families are expecting. As a result, parent may feel ?shut out? of the school community.
This is the time to begin to think about what family expectations are for the young person post-secondary school. Where will the person live? Who will care for the person? Will s/he work? Will s/he participate in some kind of post-secondary training or education? The answers will not come easily and will change almost daily. It is time for families and the young person to talk about what might happen after the young person exits the school system.
Elementary to Middle School: Tips for parents
Middle School to High School
Some of the challenges addressed in the transition to middle school will also be found in transitioning to high school: larger schools, multiple classes, and more unfamiliar classmates. In addition, high schools are more challenging academically and socially and may be more impersonal, due to the larger size. Teachers assign more homework and expect more from students, expecting students to make appropriate choices for class attendance, class schedules, and other activities. The system is more grade-oriented, with classes based on need to earn credits towards a diploma. Towards the end of high school, pressure may be exerted to choose a college, choose a job, or choose a life after graduation.
The family that has been talking with the student and thinking about the student?s post-school life will be more comfortable with these demands. One challenge that families will face is whether or not the student will earn a diploma and graduate with same age peers. It is important to remember that graduation with a diploma ends the student?s eligibility for special education services. Students served under an IEP may stay in school through age 21, as long as they have not earned a high school diploma. Discussion about these options should begin in 9th grade.
Middle School to High School: Age 16
IDEA requires that a transition plan be a part of the IEP in place when the student turns 16. Draft regulations have added ?or earlier if appropriate?. The plan must indicate the student's post-secondary goals: What does the student want to do, in terms of employment? Where does the student want to live? How does the student want to participate in the community? Although families certainly share a responsibility in discussing plans with the student, the transition plan is based on the student?s strengths, preferences, and interests. Schools must make a link with any agency that might provide and pay for services after school, such as Vocational Rehabilitation, DSPD, or Department of WorkForce Services. Eligibility for services is determined by each agency; eligibility for special education does not guarantee eligibility at other agencies.
Please ask your child's special education teacher for further information about transition planning and graduation options.
Middle School to High School: Tips for Parents