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IDEA 2004 requests that the IEP transition sections match students' interests, capitalize on their skills, be mediated by their needs, and that students and family members provide input into IEP transition discussions and decision-making. For this to happen, students need to be specifically taught transition knowledge and provided an opportunity to develop their transition plan in partnership with their family and educators. Students then need to be provided the opportunity during IEP meetings to discuss and take a leadership role in the development of their transition IEP plans.

We learned from our research on secondary IEP meetings that adults talk to adults when developing the IEP transition pages, and that students seldom join in this conversation (Martin, Van Dycke, Christensen, et al. 2006; Martin, Van Dycke, Greene, et al. 2006). By default, too many transition pages reflect adult thoughts about the student and not what students' think. This situation needs to change. After all, who's IEP is it? SDTP lessons will teach students needed transition knowledge and provide a script they can take into their IEP meetings to join and perhaps lead the transition discussions.

A singular focus upon the student may inadvertently ignore the interests, concerns, and needs of the family. The IEP team needs to also engage in collaborative transition dialogue with family members to develop a strong and unified transition plan. Engaging both students and family members in transition planning discussion may increase the likelihood of students obtaining their postschool employment, education, and adult living goals. The SDTP lessons provide a structured means for educators, students, and family members to form a partnership to build a meaningful and successful transition plan, and for students to learn the information needed to actively participate at their IEP meetings.


Martin, J. E., Van Dycke, J. L., Christensen, W. R., Greene, B. A., Gardner, J. E., & Lovett, D. L. (2006) Increasing student participation in IEP meetings: Establishing the Self-Directed IEP as an evidenced-based practice. Exceptional Children, 72, 299-316.

Martin, J. E., Van Dycke, J. L., Greene, B. A., Gardner, J. E., Christensen, W. R., Woods, L. L., & Lovett, D. L. (2006). Direct observation of teacher-directed IEP meetings: Establishing the need for student IEP meeting instruction. Exceptional Children, 72, 187-200.