by Cindy Perras, M.Ed., OCT, Educational Consultant, LDAO
What is Transition Planning?
Merriam-Webster defines transition as passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another (please click here to access this resource). Essentially, then, and for educational purposes, transition planning is the process of planning for student transitions.
For elementary and secondary students, there may be many different types of transitions; according to the Educator Support Guide for Transition Planning (2014), these transitions may include:
- Entry to School
- School to School
- Class to Class
- Grade to Grade
- Changes in School Support
- Elementary to Secondary
- Secondary to Post-Secondary
- School to Community
- School to Work
Why is Transition Planning Important?
Effective transition planning is important. Individualized transition plans that reflect a student’s strengths and needs provide the foundation for successful transitional experiences that support the building of student resiliency. Articulating student transition needs can also be a valuable component of developing an individual student profile.
PPM No. 156, p.1
In February, 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Education released Policy/Program Memorandum (PPM) No. 156, Supporting Transitions for Students with Special Education Needs; this memorandum sets out the requirements for district school boards with respect to transition planning for students with special education needs, from Kindergarten to grade 12.
Key points in PPM 156:
- The school principal is responsible for ensuring that transition plans are developed, implemented and maintained.
- Individual Education Plans (IEP) must be developed for all students who have an IEP, whether they are exceptional or not, and are a part of the IEP.
- Transition plans must be developed in consultation with the parent(s), student (as appropriate), post-secondary institutions (where appropriate), and relevant community agencies or partners (as necessary).
- Students make transitions in a variety of contexts: entry to school; between grades; between programs; when moving from school to school; elementary to secondary; secondary to post-secondary.
- Transition plans will identify specific goals, support needs, actions to achieve the goals, roles, responsibilities and timelines.
Educator Resources to Support the Transition Planning Process
Ontario Ministry of Education Resources:
The Ontario Ministry of Education has developed numerous documents to assist educators with transition planning for both students without special education needs and for students with special education needs, including students with learning disabilities (LDs):
- Click here to open the Ministry's resource document, "Transition Planning: A Resource Guide, 2002".
- Click here to open the Ministry document, "Planning Entry to School - A Resource Guide".
- Click here to open the Ministry's resource document, "Creating Pathways to Success"
- Click here to open sample transition plans.
Educator Support Guide to Transition Planning:
The Educator Support Guide for Transition Planning, a Ministry of Education – Learning for All K-12 initiative, is a transition brochure developed by the Barrie Region Boards to assist educators in writing and implementing meaningful transition plans for students from Kindergarten to Graduation who have an IEP.
The goals of the transition brochure include: (1) to identify strategies required to support the transition for students with an IEP; (2) to develop a transition plan in collaboration with the student’s transition team; and (3) to implement strategies and determine next steps.
Canadian Resources Outside of Ontario:
- Click here to visit the Alberta government website and access a PowerPoint presentation and guide on transition planning for students with disabilities.
- Click here to open the BC Ministry of Education resource guide, "Your Future Now: A Transition Planning & Resource Guide".
Why is Transition Planning Important for Students with LDs?
The Ontario Ministry of Education also recently released PPM No. 8, Identification of and Program Planning for Students with Learning Disabilities (August, 2014). PPM 8 addresses several key areas for students with LDs, including:
- Updated definition of learning disabilities
- Recognition and identification of learning disabilities
- Program planning
In the section on program planning, transition planning is emphasized:
Transition planning must be considered as part of the IEP development process when developing programs for students with learning disabilities, in accordance with Ontario Regulation 181/98 and Policy/Program Memorandum No. 156, “Supporting Transitions for Students with Special Education Needs”, February 1, 2013, and Creating Pathways to Success: An Education and Career/Life Planning Program for Ontario Schools – Policy and Program Requirements, Kindergarten to Grade 12, 2013. Transitions for students with learning disabilities occur in a variety of contexts: upon entry to school; between grades; from one program area or subject to another; when moving from school to school or from an outside agency/facility to a school; from elementary to secondary school; and from secondary school to the next appropriate pathway (e.g., work, further education, apprenticeship).
PPM No. 8, pp. 5-6
Transition planning for students with LDs needs to be tailored to their individual strengths and needs. For example, in order to make a successful transition from secondary school to postsecondary life, students with LDs need to be able to:
- understand their learning disabilities, including the potential and actual impact on learning and work;
- present a positive self-image by learning to focus on strengths and competencies;
- develop positive personal qualities, such as realistic self-assessment, willingness to take risks, becoming an independent learner and focussing on self-motivation;
- establish realistic and realizable goals; and
- develop and practise positive social skills and pro-social behaviours.
Resources to Support Transition Planning for Students with LDs
The Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) has created a new, practical, online resource for students with disabilities who are going on to postsecondary education, entitled the “Resource Guide for Students with Disabilities: Transition to Post-Secondary Education”.
This resource includes a number of sections that contain important information for students to consider as they prepare for future studies. Of particular interest is the chart highlighting the differences between high school and college/university. The website also has a listing of colleges and universities in Ontario, including what they offer for students with disabilities.
Click here to open the Alberta Ministry of Education resource guide, "Key Components of Programming for Students with Learning Disabilities - Transition Planning"
Click here to open the Durham District School Board resource, "A Durham Approach to Transition Planning to Post-Secondary Life"
 The RARC Transition Resource Guide is a project funded by the Ontario Government.