Let’s investigate recently updated secondary transition resources provided by our Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). We’ll also discuss other great resources that will help “Map Your Upcoming Transition Travels” this school year.
What is Secondary Transition?
Federal law and Maryland law require that public schools provide students with IEPs (individualized education programs) with “transition services” that are designed to prepare these students for life after high school (independent living, education, and employment). These services are typically called “Secondary Transition Services.”
Secondary Transition Planning involves parents, educators, and students proactively and intentionally preparing the student for life after high school by providing “Secondary Transition Services” that include the exploration of the student’s interests and aptitude and by providing instruction, training, and tools to support the student’s “Secondary Transition Goals.” Secondary Transition Planning can begin at any time, but, under Maryland law, secondary transition services must be included no later than in the IEP that will be in effect on the student’s fourteenth birthday [MD COMAR 13A.05.01.09(A)(3)(a)(i)].
Why is Secondary Transition Important?
As noted in the Bridges Resource Library’s Life After IEPs—When Do Things Change, and Why? entry, “Once high school ends, so do IEPs.” After high school, individuals with disabilities, including blindness/low vision, no longer have the right to a “free appropriate public education” in college, and we only have the right to “reasonable accommodations” rather than the IEP-protected rights to accommodations, modifications, and supplementary aides and services.
This change in rights can significantly impact disabled students who do not have the skills they need to succeed without IEP-specific supports. Blind/low vision students greatly benefit from thoughtful and thorough Secondary Transition Planning so that our inevitable transitions to life after high school are as smooth as possible.
A Family Guide to Secondary Transition Planning
The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) supports students and families throughout the state, and it has recently updated and published an informative brochure about secondary transition: “A Family Guide to Secondary Transition Planning, Part of Maryland’s Birth through 21 Parent Information Series.” This document “provides parents with information about secondary transition. It is fairly comprehensive and includes information about other agencies and services that students may engage with once they leave high school. It also provides parents and students with tips and steps that they can take to facilitate this important transition.” From the MSDE Parent Information Series web page.
Contents of the Guide
MSDE’s Secondary Transition Planning Guide (Guide) consolidates a great deal of vital information in a succinct, user-friendly, and easy-to-understand format. The Guide offers ideas for both parents and students to enable us to fully participate in the secondary transition planning process. In addition to outlining secondary transition planning steps, the Guide also explains changes in post-secondary rights and includes information about available agencies that provide services to adult individuals with disabilities.
Highlights of the Guide
As noted above, this Guide provides detailed, yet concise, information. Please consider checking out these highlights:
- Timelines for Secondary Transition on pages 14 & 15 (broken down into the following age categories: Ages 14 – 15, Ages 16 – 17, Ages 17 – 18, and Ages 18 – 21)
- Top 10 Things Parents Can Do to Help Prepare Their Child for Secondary Transition on pages 16 & 17
In addition to the list of Maryland Adult Service Agencies referenced above, the Guide contains:
- State and national secondary transition resources
- Glossary of secondary transition terms
- Local family support services coordinators’ contact information
Additional Secondary Transition Support Specific to Blind/Low Vision Needs
The Bridges Helpdesk and Technical Assistance Center exists to serve the needs of Maryland blind/low vision transition-age students, their families, educators and service providers, and community allies. YOU are why WE are here! We are eager to hear from you and to help with anything you need. Please never hesitate to contact us!
“These booklets provide essential information for families of students with disabilities from ages 3 through 21 on important topics that increase collaboration between home and school in planning for their child’s education.” This and all quotes below are from the MSDE Parent Information Series web page.
A Parent’s Guide to Special Education Services in Maryland: The Individualized Education Program (IEP)
“The first booklet in the series takes the parent from referral through evaluation and eligibility determination. This booklet provides tips for the parent to understand their role in order to actively participate at each meeting for each process.”
“The second booklet in the series discusses some of the key elements in the Procedural Safeguards/Parental Rights Handbook that parents are given during annual review and other IEP team meetings. It explains their legal rights in clear terms and is a companion (not replacement) to the larger Brochure.”
“This booklet takes parents through each section of the IEP and briefly explains what should be there and why. There are some legal requirements explained, as well as things the parent should expect from their IEP teams.”
“The final booklet in the series provides parents with information about secondary transition. It is fairly comprehensive and includes information about other agencies and services that students may engage with once they leave high school. It also provides parents and students with tips and steps that they can take to facilitate this important transition.”
Contact the Bridges Helpdesk for More Information
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@imagemd.org
- Text: Send to: (410) 357-1546
- Voice mail: Call (410) 357-1546, leave a voice mail message, and we will return your call
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.
Updated as of September 17, 2023.