Transition Plan for Special ED Students Problem Areas Research Paper

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Age of child and the ITP

Transition plan for special ed students

How the age of the child influences the success of the ITP

The integration of students with special needs into the general student population is not without its challenges. The advances made in policy and programs for integration have made the process easier for both the student and the parent. The life within the school system caters to the needs of the student, and there is greater sensitivity to those needs by teachers and administrators. While all students experience challenges transitioning from high school student life to post high school. The issues of special education students make this transition different and in some regards more difficult. This research will address this issue and identify measures that can be employed to reduce the dissonance students may experience because of the transition.

Statement of the Problem

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The approaches used to assist special education students to transition from a structured high school setting to the next stage of their life are linked to the age of the child. Age triggers the transition process not the developmental stage of the child. This is problematic because while children chronologically are the same age, they may be developmentally at different stages. This means that to use age as the trigger for the program may result in some students beginning the transition process prematurely or in some instances belatedly. The use of a predefined age may be an impediment, as Mazzotti et al. (2009) suggests, while the transition age is 16, best practices would indicate that a higher age is more acceptable. It is therefore possible that the result of this is the unpreparedness of students for the movement to the next stage.

Research Paper on Transition Plan for Special ED Students Problem Areas Assignment

Secondly, special education students are not a homogenous mass since they demonstrate significant individual variation in capacity and cognitive ability (Lewit, & Baker, 1996, p.141). This variability in functioning can be related to only as the program itself is tailored to the specific needs of the child. While many programs are presented as based on the individual they still adhere to an age criterion to initiate transition. The Individualized Education Program, which caters to children from three to twenty-one, has a component that address transition called the Individualized Transition Program (ITP). The success of the ITP is dependent on the active, direct, and cogent participation of the student. If the student is not in a developmental stage that makes participation meaningful then the process is compromised. Reliance solely chronological age can therefore, negatively influence the contribution the student can make to this process.

Special needs children often require more time than the regular students do to accomplish similar tasks. This reality needs to be factored into the timing of the transition process. The later the transition process is initiated limits the success of the program because the student may not be "ready' for transition when they are required to leave the school system. Early transition may therefore be a consideration that needs to be explored and explicated. As states move toward education that is increasingly academic, and focus on preparing students for college, the concerns of this group may become marginalized. The research is therefore concerned about the influence of the age of the student on the success of the transition process. A critical question that the research will answer is; under what conditions does age influence the transitioning of special education students from high school to post high school life?

Literature Review

The transitioning process for a special needs child from high school to post high school is designed to provide the student with personalized skills and services. These skills and services assist in the individual making the transition successfully. This success is described as the individual being able to engage in meaningful employment or participation in the community that contributes to a high quality of life (the special education process, 2010 p.11).

There is an increasing need to identify variables that can be used to improve the delivery and success of the special needs program. This need was emphasized by Janus, Lefort, Cameron, & Kopechanski, (2007) who using multiple methods of data collection and analysis. The data collection included peer-reviewed articles, government papers, and in-depth interviews with professionals. The researchers determined that administrative issues and advocacy services were a common problem. While the focus was on the transitioning of kindergarteners with learning disabilities, the findings can find wide generalization, as the issues are relevant to all populations of students with learning disabilities. The researchers also noted that it was increasingly important to unearth factors that have an impact on the transition process that are not easily visible, but still very important.

The successful transition of students has also been linked to greater self-deterministic behaviors (Wehmeyer & Palmer, 2003, cited in (Carter, Lane, Pierson, & Stang, 2008). Therefore, opportunities for students to develop self-deterministic behaviors are important in a discussion on transition. Carter, Lane, Pierson, & Stang (2008) found that special educators attached great importance to providing students with skills related to self-determinism and reported that they frequently address this need in their classes. The mean values for special educators were significantly higher for all measures of self-determination, than for academic only teachers. The researchers examined 340 general and special education providers in the study. The majority of the respondents were females (57.2%) and White (79.3%).

Li, Bassette & Hutchinson (2009) who studied 343 secondary educators in the United States, support the findings of Carter, Lane, Pierson, & Stang (2008). The data from the quantitative study were analyzed using MANOVA and post hoc discriminant analysis. The researchers determined that special educators were highly involved in the transition planning process for special needs students. The provision of in-service training improved the probability of a special educator getting involved in transition planning. The study concluded that the lacunae between knowledge and involvement have a significant effect on the provision of services to students in the special education program.

Guy, Sitlington, Larsen, & Frank, (2009) found that the employment study options offered at high schools were very limited. The courses were mainly offered in the classroom setting, as 73.5% of the courses offered were classroom based. Additionally, many of the offerings had limited immediate connection to the actual tasks in the real world. This highly academic approach to the preparation of students for preparation for work alludes to factors that will influence the success of any transition program. The study employed a stratified random sample design to select the school districts that would be engaged as part of the sample. As a result, 51 high schools were selected and the programs at those schools evaluated using the Course Description Form developed for this purpose.

The experiences of male and female individuals with special needs are different. Female students with special needs are more prone to specific types of challenges. Powers, Geenen, Gilkashiwabara, & Powers, (2008) studied the effect of gender on transition goals and experiences. Using a sample of 146 participants, the researchers found that females have unique experiences relating to four specific areas the nature of transition goals provided; the elements that shape the goals, the avenues of assistance and hindrances to transition and finally contextual issues, relating to language and ethnic differences. The transition goals articulated by the parents were often different from the girls with the parents have "more realistic" goals. The data were collected using qualitative interviews and focus groups and analyzed with the use of the software program Ethnograph v 5.08.

There is also variation within the transition process itself that can influence the process. The availability of these resources can also have an immediate effect on the transition process making it more taxing and difficult for both parent and student. Abbot & Heslop (2009) found that the transition process could be compromised by the failure or faulty nature of elements of the process. The transition process is multi-dimensional and weaknesses in timing and delivery of process services can impair the entire process. Additionally, the professionals noted that transition planning could be random and inconsistent at times. The focus here was on the timing of the planning, as planning too early could be counter-productive since service providers could not be related to until it was close to the exit of the individual. The research was conducted using data collected from their research on 15 young persons at residential schools, their families, and supporting professionals. The data were collected using semi-structured interviews; the data were recorded on tape and then subsequently transcribed, and analyzed with MAXqda. While the research was conducted using a unique population it has general applicability for the exploration of the role of timing in transition success.


The research on the challenges of transitioning special education students unearths multiple variables that have explanatory power. It should be noted however, that there is an observable preference for the use of a qualitative methodology. This may be so because many of the salient elements are to be thoroughly… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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Transition Plan for Special ED Students Problem Areas.  (2010, October 10).  Retrieved February 24, 2021, from

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