by Cindy Perras, M.Ed., OCT. Educational Consultant, LDAO
Components of Post-Secondary Transition Planning for Students with LDs
As students move through their secondary school years and the focus sharpens on what their options may be after secondary school, it is important to note that there are numerous paths to consider and that the pathways may not be linear nor mutually exclusive. For secondary students with LDs, the transition pathways may include:
- Secondary to post-secondary (ongoing learning)
- School to work (employment preparation, apprenticeship (OYAP), work readiness, employment)
Note: Most students with LDs will move through one of these two pathways; very few students with LDs will move directly from school to community.
This article looks specifically at what is involved with the secondary to post-secondary transition planning process for students with LDs. And to understand the importance of supporting students with LDs who wish to pursue post-secondary education, educators need only look at these discouraging statistics (Machete, 2014):
- Students with LDs drop out of high school two to three times more often than their peers without disabilities
- Students with LDs enroll in post-secondary programs at one-tenth the rate of the general population
- The post-secondary graduation rate of students with LDs is as low as 3.6% as compared to their peers without disabilities at 62.1%
It is critical for educators to work collaboratively with all stakeholders in the transition process and effectively utilize the many resources, supports and services, along with the Ministry mandated processes, outlined in this section:
Creating Pathways to Success
According to the Ontario Ministry of Education, the document Creating Pathways to Success is founded on a vision in which all students leave secondary school with a clear plan for their initial postsecondary destination, whether in apprenticeship training, college, community living, university, or the workplace, and with confidence in their ability to implement, and revise or adapt, their plan throughout their lives as they and the world around them change (p. 8).
Students in K – grade 6 create an “All About Me Portfolio”, which contains evidence of the younger students’ learning and career/life planning. Introducing students early in their school career to the process of developing a personal portfolio helps them reflect on their strengths and interests as learners as they prepare for transitions from grade to grade (p. 17). Building on the K-6 portfolio, students in grades 7 – 12 document their learning through an Individual Pathway Planning (IPP), which is web-based and student-driven.
Key Point - The IPP becomes the primary planning tool for students as they move through the grades towards their initial postsecondary destination.
Career Cruising (Ministry licensed web application) is a comprehensive career guidance system that seamlessly guides students through the career and education planning process. World-class assessment tools help students learn about themselves and the various career paths open to them. Using what they have learned, students can then research in-depth occupation profiles, featuring multimedia interviews with real people in every occupation. Once students have decided on a career path or paths, they can link directly to comprehensive university, community college, and apprenticeship training information.
Individual Education Plan (IEP) and the Transition Plan
According to Regulation 181/98, the IEP of an exceptional student who is 14 years of age or older must include a plan for the student's transition to appropriate postsecondary activities, such as work, further education, and community living. The regulation also requires the principal, in developing the transition plan, to consult with such community agencies and postsecondary institutions, as he or she considers appropriate.
Key Point – a plan for transition to post-secondary is a mandatory component of the IEP, for identified students 14 years of age and older.
The Ontario Ministry of Education developed a resource document, “Transition Planning: A Resource Guide”, which includes sample transition plans:
LDAO has also created a sample transition plan for students with LDs who are transitioning to a post-secondary program:
Secondary School Support
Secondary schools are able to provide varied and rich resources to support the transition to post-secondary process for students with LDs. The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO) developed a resource document, “Transition Planning Resource Guide for Students with Learning Disabilities”, which makes the following recommendations for secondary schools:
- Offer Learning Strategies credit courses
- Offer credit courses in grade 11 or 12 that explore career options
- Ensure that each identified student’s IEP includes an adaptive technology plan and clearly identifies all required accommodations
- Ensure that the transition plan includes academic preparation, personal skills development and specific preparation for the student’s chosen destination
The Regional Assessment and Resource Centre
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”; click here to open the Transition Resource Guide.
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.
As each post-secondary college or university will have its own disability services, LDAO has also created a chart to assist students with determining when the appropriate time is to share, or disclose, that they have a learning disability with the post-secondary institution(s).
Additionally, LD@school has created the following chart, which lists each Ontario post-secondary institution’s Accessibility Services websites and contact information, as well as details about transition programs offered at these institutions.
Transition to Post-Secondary Checklist
Post-secondary transition planning for students with LDs is a multi-faceted and longitudinal process; the students’ participation and self-advocacy is integral to the ultimate success of this process. To assist educators and students with managing the various, and at times overlapping, components of the transition to post-secondary planning process, this simple checklist may be of assistance.
Post-Secondary Transition Planning for Students with LDs Checklist
☐ PPM 156 reviewed
☐ PPM 8 reviewed
☐ Individual Pathway Planning (IPP) in place
☐ Individual Education Plan (IEP) developed
☐ Learning Strategies Course(s) taken (GLE1O, GLS1O and/or GLE2O)
☐ Career Studies Course taken (GLC2O)
☐ Discovering the Workplace Course taken (GLD2O)
☐ Transition Plan developed
☐ Transition Team identified
☐ Student has accessed the Regional Assessment and Resource Centre (RARC) website
Additional Educator Resources to Support the Transition to Post-Secondary Planning Process
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.
The LD@school website provides numerous resources for educators involved with post-secondary transition planning, including:
Machete, R. (2014). Transition Planning and Pathways for Students Transitioning to Post-Secondary: The Importance of Planning with the End in Mind [Webinar]. Retrieved from https://ldatschool.ca/pro-learning/webinars/transition-planning/.
Click here to open the Simcoe County District School Board resource, "Planning “Secondary to Post-Secondary” Transitions for Students with Special Education Needs: A Guide for Parent/Guardian(s) and Educators".
 The RARC Transition Resource Guide is a project funded by the Ontario Government.