The Vertical Transitions Tool for Improving Transition Outcomes

Colleagues and I recently had an article published in Teaching Exceptional Children titled, “Using Vertical Transitions from Early Childhood to Postsecondary Environments to Improve Transition Outcomes.” Vertical transitions are when a child moves from one school setting phase to another, e.g., moving from elementary school to secondary school. These natural transition times are useful reminders to educators that the child with a disability is moving closer to the transition from high school to adult environments. The transition to adult environments is required to be addressed in the individualized education program (IEP) by the time the youth is 16 years old (or sooner, depending on the state) because it can take a lot of planning for that transition to be smooth and successful.

Common educational vertical transitions: early childhood intervention to early childhood special education to primary school to secondary school to adult environments.

The Vertical Transitions to Prepare for Post-School Success tool was developed by incorporating recommended practices by the Division for Early Childhood and effective practices as identified by the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition. Specifically, the tool focuses on interactions among the educator, the child, and their family. Supports for the child and family are suggested as are developmentally and culturally appropriate instructional practices to increase self-determination, postsecondary education skills, employment skills, and independent living skills. Prior to each vertical transition, the case manager or educator meets with the family and youth, as appropriate, to review and complete the actions on the tool. The tool is not intended to be used during the IEP meeting; it is to be used prior to the IEP meeting.

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