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Student-Directed Transition Planning (SDTP)

by Mary Mazzoni on October 7, 2012

We want our kids to plan for and take action toward their own future.

After all – it’s their life!

And research links active student involvement in transition planning and IEP meetings to objective measures of self determination that are linked to attainment of goals after graduation.

So, how can we prepare and support kids to meaningfully participate in the IEP process to plan for life after high school?

The Zarrow Center of the University of Oklahoma, nationally known for its research in the area of self determination for students with disabilities, has developed a free 8-lesson curriculum called Student Directed Transition Planning (SDTP).

Let’s take a look at SDTP and consider ways we can use it to prepare and support our kids to actively participate in their own transition planning and IEP meetings.

SDTP Lessons

The lessons are directly aligned with the IEP process. In this way, students gain skills needed to meaningfully participate in their own transition planning and their own IEP meetings.

Free plans and materials for each lesson can be accessed via the above links. You can also access links for each lesson, along with pre and post assessments, from a single page on the Center’s site¬†here.

Lesson topics  include:

  • Awareness of Self, Family, Community and Disability
  • Terms and Concepts for Transition Planning
  • Vision for Employment
  • Vision for Further Education
  • Vision for Adult Living
  • Course of Study
  • Connecting with Supports and Adult Services
  • Putting it All Together: The Summary of Performance

SDTP systematically teaches vocabulary, concepts, processes, and resources essential to transition planning. In each section there are activity sheets that yield information about the student’s preferences, goals and needs. This information is then entered into the “Summary of Performance Script”. This script is used by the student to participate in the IEP meeting each year.

An ongoing process

Educators understand “Summary of Performance” as a document that must be provided to the student in the final year of school.

The SDTP engages the student throughout the high school years to develop and annually revise the Summary of Performance. With support, the student updates the Summary of Performance every year to reflect current skills, goals, and plans. The student then uses a customized script to present the current Summary of Performance information at the IEP meeting. This information is used to develop the annual IEP.

In this way, the Summary of Performance becomes a living document – a personal plan the student has had a hand in developing and revising over time, rather than a static document developed by adults and presented to the student just before graduation.

Not a stand-alone tool

The SDTP provides an effective structure for student engagement in transition planning – and it teaches kids important terms and concepts.

But SDTP can’t stand alone. We can’t rely solely on this tool to engage students in transition planning.

Students also need to:

  • participate in and understand transition assessments that relate their interests and skills to their post-high school goals
  • engage in meaningful career research and career exploration activities
  • receive explicit instruction and ongoing guided practice in self determination skills (problem solving, action planning, decision making)
  • learn the steps needed to connect with services and access post-high school accommodations

Adapting SDTP to meet individual student needs

SDTP materials will need to be adapted for students with limited reading or communication skills.

In particular, the method of student involvement in the IEP meeting will need to be considered if the student is not able to read a pre-prepared script.

Sample accommodations include use of a pre-recorded audio or video interview.

Also – students with limited verbal skills can be assisted to develop a powerpoint presentation utilizing photographs of picture symbols. During the IEP meeting, the student can use a switch as needed to present the PowerPoint so that his or her preferences are considered by the team.

Your turn

Do you have questions or comments about SDTP? We’d love to hear from you! Use the comment section below, or send an email using the white envelope in the side bar.

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Photo credit: red11group at Flickr

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