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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition: Creating opportunities for youth with disabilities to achieve successful futures.

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Furney, K., & Salembier, G. (2000). Rhetoric and reality: A review of the literature on parent and student participation in the IEP and transition planning process. Issues influencing the future of transition programs and services for students with disabilities (pp. 111-126). Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Institute on Community Integration.

This review of the literature suggests that little has changed in the practice of parent participation in the IEP planning process that has been mandated through EHA/IDEA since 1975; nor have there been any significant changes in student participation in transition. This article discusses practices that promote and inhibit student and family participation and makes recommendations for future research and practice.

Indicators for increased participation include strong relationships and good communication among teachers, students, and families. Further research is suggested in the area of diverse populations and in understanding the relationship between parents and youth as they attempt to partner in the transition planning process during these adolescent years. The review also suggests that increased participation actually does produce better postsecondary education outcomes.


Thomas, C., Rogan, P., & Baker, S. (2001). Student involvement in transition planning: Unheard voices. Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 36, 16-29.

This article reports findings from a qualitative study focused on high school students’ involvement in and experiences with the transition planning process. This study involved eight students with moderate, severe, or multiple disabilities and focused on their final year of school. Through qualitative methods, the research team assessed levels and conditions of student involvement, overall satisfaction, and outcomes from the transition planning process.

The researchers found that teachers and parents put little effort into preparing students to become involved in their transition planning process. Although students were present at the IEP meeting, they did not actively participate in the process. Teachers and families spoke about the youth, but often not with them, and information and planning was based on the deficit model. Most of the goals for these youth were based on adult recommendations, rather than on students’ personal goals. Based on the findings from the study, the authors make recommendations for increasing student involvement in their own life planning.


Zang, D., & Stecker, P. (2001). Student involvement in transition planning: Are we there yet? Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 36, 293-303.

This study attempts to fill a gap in the transition literature. It is clear that transition planning is critical to successful school-to-future transitions. What is less clear is the degree to which students with mild mental retardation are involved in the overall planning process for their own transitions. This study examines that involvement, both in planning and in implementation of transition services.

The researchers interviewed 44 secondary teachers working with youth with MMR, focusing on teacher/IEP team behaviors before and during the transition meeting. Students’ behaviors before, during, and after transition meetings were also examined. The article presents findings and recommendations for strengthening students’ involvement in transition planning, while also offering suggestions to teachers for facilitating this genuine involvement.


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This page was last updated on January 12, 2022.