What is a transition meeting? It is an opportunity for the current and future school teams to discuss and introduce your child and make changes to the current IEP as appropriate. Transition meetings are held in January and February prior to 6th and 9th grade. Middle school and high school are a long way off and your child's needs will likely change in the meantime. How can you possibly write an appropriate IEP under these circumstances? What can you expect will happen when representatives from the middle school or high school will be in attendance?
Some important things to be aware of as you think about your child's needs in the new environment:
Your child's current services will be implemented in different ways in the middle school and high school environment. Push-in speech, push-in social work and push-in OT will not be available in general ed classrooms.
There are fewer service providers relative to the size of the student population, so caseloads are large.
Your child's service minutes might change based on the length of classroom periods.
Your child will have more than one classroom teacher, or will have an increase in the number of classroom teachers.
There will be an increase in transitions during the school day.
The building will be larger and more complicated to navigate.
The lockers will have combination locks.
Your child will change clothes for PE.
The team representatives who attend your meeting from the new school are not necessarily the ones who will end up providing services in the fall.
Your child's Case Manager will be an important point person. Make sure you know who they are.
So, what should you be prepared to do?
Make sure you have accurate data describing your child's Present Levels of Academic and Functional Performance. The entire IEP is based on that data.
Pay particular attention to your child's accommodations to ensure that all of their challenges are addressed with a plan. Accommodations should be more robust to support the challenges of a more complex school experience.
If they propose a change in your child's services, and you disagree, ask for data to support that his/her needs have changed.
Ask for a copy of the meeting notes and review them to be sure they accurately reflect the conversation.
Co-teach is available in middle and high school.
Essentially, a special ed teacher is in the classroom providing support and instruction alongside the general ed teacher.
This is not available in every academic subject though, (e.g. social studies and science in the middle school) so additional supports/accommodations should be in place during subjects without co-teaching.
If your child requires a modified curriculum, this is a strong argument for co-teach placement. Hint: this person cannot be a paraprofessional or aide. Curricular modification must be done by a special education teacher.
Co-teach is a scarce and closely guarded service at ETHS. Their threshold for qualifying may be higher then your child's presently described needs.
If you feel your child currently has co-taught minutes in the IEP and continues to need co-teach, be sure to get that written into their transition IEP. Legally, they must provide it (unless new data is presented showing that your child doesn't qualify).
Ask questions about the "Advisory period" in the middle schools and the "Learning Strategies" program in the high school. These classes would replace pull-out, one-on-one or small group special ed services offered in elementary school.
Remember that you can always ask to take a couple of days to consider their proposal. CASE is available to help you determine if the plan is appropriate. It is also important to request a meeting closer to the end of the school year to establish your student's current levels of functioning. Get a date on the calendar before you leave the meeting.