Transition Planning and Anticipated Services

in the Individualized Education Program (IEP) Process

An informational guide


students, families, professionals


How will you get there if you don’t know where you’re going?

Transition is the passage from one stage of development to another. We all face transitions throughout our life. Here, transition refers to preparing the student with disabilities for the passage from high school into the adult world. All students, of course, will not have the same goals or dreams for adult life. Possible outcomes might be post secondary education, full or part time employment (including supported employment), living in a home independently or with assistance, having satisfactory personal and social relationships, and/or becoming involved in the community.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA 1997) states that the purpose of the legislation is "ensure that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for employment and independent living." The student, parents, educators and community service providers must work together to support the student to plan for and reach these adult goals.

What is the goal of transition planning?

The goal of transition planning is to assist students with disabilities as they prepare to leave school and move to:


This booklet is designed to build informed partnerships for the transition planning process. It provides details about:



  • the goals and components of transition planning


  • the participants in transition planning
  • the timing for formal transition planning
  • the questions addressed during transition planning
  • the difference between entitlement and eligibility systems
  • the requirements for a Maryland High School Diploma and Certificate
  • anticipated services following high school in Maryland
  • the coding system for collecting data about anticipated services in Maryland
  • involving families and students in transition planning
  • assisting students to develop self advocacy skills
  • transition resources



Transition planning involves the participation of...

Transition planning includes...


When does transition planning occur?

Transition planning for a student’s future begins in elementary school during the career awareness and exploration activities in which all students participate. During the middle and high school years, in addition to academic course work, students are involved in career development activities such as career interest assessments; work based learning experiences, and career completer courses as part of high school graduation requirements. Families can be very influential in students’ career choices and should take time to discuss future options with students and teachers.

Formal transition planning begins during the calendar year in which the student turns age 14. The school-based Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, including the student and parents, will develop a transition plan that identifies the student’s transition goals and service needs. At age 14, the transition plan should focus on determining a course of study provided by the school system.

A course of study includes the instructional and educational experiences to prepare the student for the transition from secondary education to post-secondary life. At age 16, the transition plan is expanded to include a coordinated set of activities and linkages in the community as well as the school. Annually thereafter, the student’s IEP team will review and revise his or her needed transition services as well as the anticipated services needed after leaving school.

What is required on the transition section of the Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

The following components must be considered in identifying the student’s transition needs:

What happens during transition planning?

The school IEP team, which includes the student and parents, will discuss the transition plan at least annually beginning no later than the year the student becomes 14 years of age. Different questions may need to be considered as the student progresses through their educational program. The team will also need to consider the most appropriate ways to gather the information needed to address these questions. Rarely will all questions be addressed in a given year. These are typical questions addressed by the IEP team:

and after leaving school?

When are these linkages made?

When should they be completed?

What is the difference between entitlement and eligibility systems?

Transition is the process of moving from entitlement services to eligibility services. The difference between the entitlements of public education and the eligibility criteria of adult services can be confusing. In Maryland, a student with a disability who is receiving special education services is entitled to educational services until the student has reached age 21 or has met the requirements for a high school diploma. Once a student exits the school system, he/she must meet eligibility criteria and funding availability to receive services from adult service agencies. Each agency will have distinct eligibility criteria. The IEP team needs to consider which agencies/entities should be involved in transition planning early on so that linkages are in place before the student reaches the final year of schooling. In any event, referrals to the adult agencies will be made no later than the spring prior to exit. Families who are involved in transition planning early will have more time to create opportunities for their young adults to achieve their goals.


To earn a Maryland High School Diploma the student must:


The Maryland High School Certificate is awarded only to students with disabilities who cannot meet the requirements for a diploma but who meet one of the following standards:

    1. The student is enrolled in an education program for at least four years beyond grade eight or its age equivalent; and is determined by an IEP team, with the agreement of the parents and the student, to have developed appropriate skills to enter the world of work, act responsibly as a citizen, and enjoy a fulfilling life. World of work shall include but not be limited to gainful employment, extended employment, community rehabilitation programs, and supported employment.
    2. The student has been enrolled in an education program for four years beyond grade eight or its age equivalent and has reached age 21.

What happens at graduation?

Parents must be given written notice that graduating with a high school diploma or a high school certificate at age 21 is a change in special education placement and an end to the entitlements of special education services. Schools must make reasonable efforts to ensure that parents understand, and are able to participate in, any group discussions about this placement decision.

At this time, many schools confirm that the student and parents have information about eligibility and documentation needed to apply for adult services. Special education services end when the student has been awarded a high school diploma.

What are anticipated services?

In April 1998, a new Maryland law was passed that affects any student receiving special education and related services. Beginning the calendar year the student turns 14, the transition discussion will include exit information and anticipated service needs at the start of the formal transition planning. As the student is engaged in the activities of the transition plan, the team will learn more about the student’s future needs and the plan may need to be revised. Annually, the school team will address and report to the state the answers to the following questions:

1. What month, day, and year (called the projected exit date) is this student expected to exit from public education?

2. What is the projected exit category for this student?

a. exiting with a Maryland High School Diploma

b. exiting with a Maryland High School Certificate at age 21

c. exiting with a Maryland High School Certificate prior to age 21

3. What anticipated transition services will this student need during the first year after exit?

(The coding system for reporting anticipated services is provided on pages ________)

Why are anticipated services data collected?

After each local school system collects the information about the anticipated services and projected exit date and category, the data will be sent to the State Department of Education in a format that protects the confidentiality of the individual student and parents. This information will then be used by adult service provider agencies to plan for the anticipated needs of students who will be exiting the local school systems.

After compiling the data, the Maryland State Department of Education will transmit the information to these other state level agencies:

  1. Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  2. Mental Hygiene Administration (MHA), Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
  3. Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS), Maryland State Department of Education
  4. Other state agencies which are responsible for providing support services and resources for adults with disabilities

These state agencies will use this data to plan for the future service needs of students projected to exit in one, two, three, or more years in each region of the State. They will share the information with the adult service agencies at the community level for future planning purposes. The agencies will be provided the information about the needs of groups of prospective clients well before the students leave the school systems. This will be as helpful to the adult service providers as it is to the students and families.


What can families do to prepare for discussions about transition and anticipated services?

Families can get ready to discuss transition and services that their son/daughter may need by engaging in activities such as the following.

In all transition planning, the student’s interests and preferences and the parents’ perspective will be key considerations in the team discussion. Each year at the annual review, the team will discuss and revise the IEP and the transition plan, the projected exit date and category, and the anticipated services.

What should be collected in the transition home file?

A few years after a student exits from school, the school shreds the school files to protect his/her confidentiality. The student and parents should maintain a transition home file to be used to document eligibility for services from adult service providers and to provide information about the student’s experiences, skills, accommodations and career preferences. This folder might include such documents as:

The Partners for Success Centers offer assistance in developing a transition home file in addition to providing direct parent training through Next Steps: The Transition series

What coding system is being used to collect data about anticipated services after high school?

The following coding system will be used to facilitate gathering information about anticipated services in the State. This list of services does not represent all the supports offered by adult providers. It has been developed as a framework to begin discussions about what services adult providers offer and to structure the data collection for advanced planning.

General Services

A1. no services needed.

A2. public income maintenance: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), welfare, Medicaid, public health insurance, etc.

A3. transportation: specialized transportation including paratransit.


Institutions that offer adult, career, and higher education programs can plan ahead if they know how many students will need the following services in the first year following exit: Further Education/Training

B1. continuing and adult education: including Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Education Development (GED), adult high school diploma and adult compensatory education.

B2. higher education support services: notetakers, educational technology, modified testing time, mentoring and guidance, study skills and self-advocacy training.

B3. career school support services: support services in programs such as career schools, Job Training Partnership Act programs, Job Corps.

Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

Maryland State Department of Education

According to Maryland policy, students are referred to DORS during the spring prior to exit so their eligibility can be determined and the Individual Plan for Employment (IPE) can be developed before the student exits. Students with significant disabilities are generally presumed eligible for vocational rehabilitation services. Service provision is based upon funding availability.

DORS leaders and agencies can plan ahead if they know how many students will need the following services in the first year following exit:

C1. assessment and evaluation: determines eligibility for services, types of services and vocational options.

The process may include counselor observations, review of existing school, psychological, functional and vocational information, use of assistive technology devices and worksite assessments.

C2. vocational rehabilitation counseling and guidance: assists the individual with focusing on and identifying employment outcomes, taking into consideration the needs and individual choices of the individual with a disability.

C3. job search, placement assistance and follow up services: provides job seeking skills, referral for specific jobs, job coaching, and coordination with other placement agencies for competitive employment placements (including supported employment) and the provision of post-employment services. Supported employment services are designed for students who require supports for the rest of their work lives and are coordinated with the Mental Hygiene Administration and /or the Developmental Disabilities Administration.

C4. medical rehabilitation: includes assistive devices, physical , occupational , speech or hearing therapy, psychological services, and other medically related services.

C5. vocational and other training services: coordination and provision of higher education, career and technology education training needs (including applications for financial aid and need for college support services); training such as personal and vocational adjustment training needed to improve attitudes toward work, adjustment to recently acquired disability, and to strengthen work habits.

C6. rehabilitation technology services: application of assistive technologies and rehabilitation engineering to reduce barriers posed by functional limitations in communication, vision, motor, and/or cognitive skills. These services may include architectural, vehicle, communication and computer modifications.

C7. support services: services individually designed to assist the individual to complete his or her rehabilitation program. These services may include resources for transportation expenses, maintenance expenses, personal assistance and services to family members.

Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA)

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

There are two levels of eligibility for DDA services: Developmental Disability (DD) or Individuals eligible for Support Services (ISS). Eligibility determination is based on a number of factors. Decisions regarding placements are based on eligibility, priority, availability of needed service, availability of funding, and agency’s acceptance of the individual’s application and individual choice.


DDA leaders and agencies can plan ahead if they know how many students will need the following services in the first year following year exit:

D1. day habilitation: includes individuals participating in structured activities designed to increase or maintain motor skills; communication skills; personal hygiene; leisure abilities; and community integration.

Services need to be available 6 hours per day (not including commuting time), 5 days a week, and 220 days per year.

D2. community residential services: community residential models are designed to give preference to small and individualized settings. The Administration respects personal choice regarding decisions about where and with whom individuals with developmental disabilities may live. Current community residential service models include: alternative living units (ALU); group homes; and individual family care homes (IFC).

D3. supported employment: individuals seeking to obtain and maintain work in the community are free to choose preferred types of work. Supported employment includes individuals working in community businesses for pay with licensee-funded supports or any work program that includes training necessary for the individual to achieve the desired outcomes established in the Individual Plan.

Note: initial job coaching may be funded by DORS.

D4. family and individual support services: array of services to individuals and their families residing in the community.

D5. behavior/support services: designed to assist individuals who exhibit challenging behaviors in acquiring skills, gaining social acceptance, and becoming full participants in the community. Services include: behavioral consultation; temporary augmentation of staff; training and respite services.

D6. community supported living arrangements (CSLA): services to assist an individual in non-vocational activities to enable the individual to live in his/her own home, apartment, family home, or rental unit with no more than 2 other non-related CSLA clients, including personal assistance services, supports for community participation and self determination, 24 hr. emergency assistance, assistive technology, resource coordination, environmental modifications, respite services.

(Note: do not include both D2 and D6.)

Mental Hygiene Administration (MHA)

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

The MHA provides services through the Public Mental Health System. Individuals and families must:

1) meet financial eligibility criteria

2) have one of the MHA eligible diagnoses, and

3) meet medical necessity criteria


MHA, Core Service Agencies, and providers can plan ahead if they know how many students will need the following services in the first year following exit:

E1. mental health evaluation and treatment: provided in wide variety of settings by approved providers such as individual practitioners, group practices, outpatient mental health centers, mobile treatment, partial hospitalization, psychiatric hospitalization and other specialized services. Diverse treatments include medication management and family, group and individual therapy.

E2. psychiatric rehabilitation programs: rehabilitation and support to develop and enhance community and independent living skills provided in variety of settings.

E3. residential rehabilitation programs: residential services for individuals with mental illness; rehabilitation services provided in the residence.

E4. supported employment: vocational assessment, referral and vocational counseling, competitive employment with intensive job coaching and extended support and counseling. Note: initial job coaching may be funded by DORS.

E5. respite care: temporary alternative living situation to provide temporary relief to care giver from the responsibility of care and support.

What transition resources are available?

Transition Coordinators

Each local school system has designated a lead transition coordinator who is responsible for providing information about local transition practices and services. For the lead transition coordinator in your school system, contact 410-767-0231 or the MSDE Web Site:

Partners for Success: Resource Centers for Families and Schools (formerly Parent Information & Training Centers - PITC)

Each local school system has a center staffed by a parent and an educator, who assist families, students, and educators by providing support, information, and resources on disabilities and community services; by assisting families to resolve concerns and make informed decisions regarding their student’s education; and by increasing parent involvement and collaborative partnerships between families and professionals. Call 1-800-535-0182 for your local center.

Parents' Place

A statewide, federally funded, parent-directed, and family-centered parent information and training center serving families of people with disabilities. For more information, call 410-859-5300.

DORS Regional Offices

Region 1 - Western Maryland (Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery, Washington Counties)

Hagerstown 301-791-4764 TDD 301-791-4764

Region 2 - Southern Maryland (Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s Counties)

Annapolis 410-974-7604 TDD 301-974-7742

Region 3 - Baltimore City

410-333-6119 TDD 410-333-6128

Region 4 - Eastern Shore (Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot,Wicomico, Worcester Counties)

Salisbury 410-543-6909 TDD 410-546-9171

Region 5 - Central Maryland (Baltimore, Harford, Howard Counties)

Towson 410-321-2395 TTY 410-321-4035

DDA Regional Offices

Central Maryland - (Anne Arundel, Baltimore City/County, Carroll, Harford, Howard Counties)


Southern Maryland - (Calvert, Charles, Montgomery, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s Counties)


Eastern Shore - (Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Worcester, Wicomico Counties)


Western Maryland - (Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, Washington Counties)


Public Mental Health System - for information on referrals and eligibility, contact Mental Health Partners 1-800-888-1965

Possible responses to the case studies

(but every case is different)

Case #1: Joe’s IEP team might have recommended that he take a career exploration course and work with his family to comp-let the future dreams questionnaire by the next IEP team meeting. Joe will also need self-advocacy training.

Case #2: Kesha’s IEP team may recommend that her parents attend the Next Steps Trainings (see page ___) and her case manager may include her in a peer orientation to the transition process.

Case #3: Rose’s IEP team may determine that her post school outcomes will ultimately be competitive employment in a health related career following DORS services and support services in higher education. Her exit date will be the next June with a diploma.

Case #4: Arthur’s IEP team may identify the following anticipated service: A2, B1, C1, C2, C3, C5, C6, C7.

Case #5: Tyrone’s IEP team may identify the following services: A1.

Case #6: Diane’s IEP team may develop her coordinated set of activities to include a sequence of science and related courses as well as some science based career exploration activities in the community. They may report her exit date as June, four years later with a diploma. They may identify the following anticipated services: B2, C1, C5, C6, C7.

Case #7: Anna’s IEP team may develop her coordinated set of activities to include assistive technology and occupational therapy evaluations, a career interest test through the guidance counselor or at the Maryland Rehabilitation Center and early linkages with the local DORS offices and the local community college (although she may attend another college). The may report her exit date as June, two years later with a diploma. They may identify the following anticipated services: A2, A3, B2, C1, C2, C5, C6, C7.

Case #8: Evan’s IEP team may report his exit date as June, four years later with a diploma. They may identify the following anticipated services: B3, C1, C2, C3, C5, C7, E1, E4.


Interagency/Interdisciplinary Taskforce

This document was developed through the efforts of an interagency/interdisciplinary task force including (in alphabetical order by agency):

• Baltimore City Public Schools System

Helena Davis

Amy Dwyer

• Baltimore County Public Schools

Shirley Gordon

Judy Kanigel

• Cecil County Public Schools

Tom Barkely

• Frederick County Public Schools

Michelle L. Weddle

• Developmental Services Group

Peggy Muth

• Loyola College

Kathy Milam

• Maryland School for the Deaf

K. C. Russell

• Maryland State Department of Education

Division of Compensatory Education and Support Services

David Holdefer

Division of Planning, Results and Information Management

Sally Slade

Division of Rehabilitative Services

Berenda Riedl

Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services

Ned Featherston

Mona Freedman

Lucy Hession

Amy Pleet (Taskforce Co-Chair)

• Maryland State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Developmental Disabilities Administration

Paul Althoff

Leon Carlton

Juliana C. Durairaj

Sandy Marron

Mental Hygiene Administration

Tom Merrick

• Maryland Transition Initiative

LaVerne Buchanan

Meredith Gramlich

Dennis M. Snyder (Taskforce Co-Chair

Alice Wells

• Montgomery County Public Schools

Verna Marie Chiarello

• Parents Place of Maryland

Debbie Janis

Bob Sterner

• Rehabilitation Opportunities

Rhonda Workman

• St. Luke’s House

Kathy Bridgeman

• The ARC of Maryland

Cristine Marchand

• The Benedictine School

Julie Bowers

David Quinn

• University of Maryland College Park

Peggy Hayeslip

Debra Neubert


This document was developed and produced jointly by the Maryland Transition Initiative (grant #H158A50005 funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services) and the Maryland State Department of Education in collaboration with the State Interagency Plan for Transitioning Youth Taskforce and advisement from an interdisciplinary workgroup.

August 1999

For more information contact the Office of Special Education in your local school system

Maryland State Department of Education Parris N. Glendening, Governor

Nancy S. Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools

Carol Ann Baglin, Assistant State Superintendent, Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services

Robert Burns, Assistant State Superintendent, Division of Rehabilitation Services

Second Edition • Revised 8/18/99