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Student-Directed Transition Planning

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Student-Directed Transition Planning

The eight Student-Directed Transition Planning (SDTP) lessons facilitate high school to adult life planning partnerships between students, their families, and educators. Educators use eight SDTP lessons to teach their students the knowledge needed to actively participate in their transition-focused IEP meetings.
SDTP uses the Student-Directed Summary of Performance as a means for students to learn, organize and present transition information (Martin, Van Dycke, D'Ottavio, & Nickerson, 2007). Teachers deliver the lessons using PowerPoint files and a detailed Teacher's Guide provides step-by-step instructional suggestions. Students can complete these activities on-line, and the results will automatically transfer to their Summary of Performance Script. Students can take the Summary of Performance Script to their IEP meetings to facilitate transition discussions and decision-making. Student knowledge gains can be measured using pre/post exams available in true/false or multiple choice formats.

Lessons and Materials

Lesson 7: Connecting with Adult Supports and Services

Lesson 8: Putting It All Together



Pre-Post Measurement Tools

About SDTP

No Cost to Use

Educators, university faculty and students, parents and others teaching the Student-Directed Transition Planning lessons (SDTP) for non-profit endeavors may do so without charge. If use of the lessons will produce a monetary profit, please contact to begin the process of obtaining a usage license with the University of Oklahoma.

Modify as Needed

Those using SDTP for not-for-profit purposes may modify the presentation files, activities, and Teacher's Guides to better meet the needs of their students. Please send your modified versions and suggestions to improve the SDTP lessons to so that they may be considered for posting for others to use.

Self-Directed IEP Instructional Program

Numerous research studies (see Martin, Van Dycke, et al., 2006) have demonstrated the impact of the Self-Directed IEP (Martin, Marshall, Maxson, & Jerman, 1996) instructional package to increase student participation in their IEP meeting discussions. As expected, Self-Directed IEP alone did not impact student and family involvement in transition discussions because the Self-Directed IEP did not systematically teach transition knowledge or IEP transition meeting discussion behaviors. Teaching both the Self-Directed IEP and the SDTP lessons may increase student and family participation during the entire IEP meeting.

Time Required for Teaching the SDTP Lessons

We estimate that it will take approximately 15 hours to teach the SDTP lessons. You may schedule the lessons in any manner that best meets your needs. Some teachers use the SDTP lessons for 45 minutes a day until finished, others use the SDTP lessons once or twice a week, some may want to teach the SDTP in a before or after school format. The more time between lessons, the more time needed for review. Lessons may be taught as part of existing curricula, or as a stand-alone course. Please give us feedback on how you teach the lessons, how long it took, and any suggestions for change. Send your comments to

Instructional Sequence

Regardless of the format for teaching the lessons, we suggest the lessons be taught in a designated order. We recommend that students complete the first two lessons (Awareness and Terms/Concepts) consecutively. Educators can choose to teach the next three lessons (Vision for Employment, Vision for Postsecondary Education, and Vision for Adult Living) in whatever order that best matches the students' educational needs. The Course of Study and Connecting Services lessons must be completed prior to building the Student Summary of Performance.

Before opting out of teaching any SDTP Vision lessons, educators should look at the NSTTAC Indicator 13 checklist used to evaluate IDEA 2004 transition compliance ( The U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs supervised the development of this transition compliance checklist tool. To be in compliance with IDEA 2004 transition requirements, the IEP document needs to include an employment and an education/training goal. Completing the SDTP lessons and infusing the results into students' IEP will facilitate compliance with the Indicator 13 Checklist.

Teaching the SDTP Lessons

Prior to teaching each lesson, download the presentation file and the Teacher's Guide. Glance over the Teacher Guide to look at the scope of the lesson and needed material. The Teacher's Guide includes sequential screen shots of each presentation slide to provide the teacher ample instructional information. We recommend that educators follow the Teacher's Guide step-by-step the first couple times teaching the lessons. After that, we encourage teachers to modify the lessons to better meet the needs of their students. The open format of the PowerPoint and Microsoft Word files allow and encourage easy modifications.

Student's Participation in the SDTP Lessons

We recommend that each student keep completed SDTP materials together for easy reference and review by family members, educators, and support staff, and to serve as a primary transition reference portfolio. We suggest using one three-ring binder per student with dividers for each lesson.

Completing Student and Family Activities On-Line

Most of the student and family activities will be able to be completed on-line. Students will be able to download and print completed activities to share with their teachers and family members.

Saving On-Line Student and Family Activities

The files will be saved for up to 30 days in password-protected files that will not include any student identifying information. After 30 calendar days the saved files will be automatically removed from the SDTP server. So, be sure to download and print.


Martin, J. E., Marshall, L. H., Maxson, L. M., & Jerman, P. L. (1996). The Self-Directed IEP. Longmont, CO: Sopris West, Inc.

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.

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 plans 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 discussions may increase the likelihood of students attaining 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.

An Outreach Grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education awarded to Dr. James Martin at the University of Oklahoma's Zarrow Institute provided funding to develop SDTP (Grant # H324C040136). Dr. Selete Avoke served as the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education's Project Officer to the SDTP Project, and provided valuable guidance along the way.

Lorraine Sylvester, Lee Woods, and James Martin from OU's Zarrow Institute for Learning Enrichment, along with Sandra Poolaw from OU's American Indian Institute and Riverside Indian School wrote the SDTP lessons. When referencing the SDTP project, we recommend using the following citation:

Sylvester, L., Woods, L. L, Martin, J. E., & Poolaw, S. (2007). Student-directed transition planning. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma, Zarrow Center. Retrieved from

The following SDTP advisory committee members provided guidance and feedback on lesson scope, sequence, and content:

  • Dr. James Alarid, Professor of Special Education and Director of the Ben Lujan Institute, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, NM
  • Dr. Ginger Blalock, Professor Emeritus of Special Education and New Mexico's Transition Project Coordinator, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
  • Dr. Carole Brito, New Mexico Highlands University, Las Vegas, NM
  • Tom Fee, Transition Specialist, Kickapoo Nation School, Powhattan, KS
  • Rolletta Sue Gronewald, formerly the Transition Consultant for the New Mexico Special Education Bureau and now New Mexico Special Education Bureau's Deputy Director
  • Dr. Michael Juda, Special Education Coordinator, Bureau of Indian Education, Eastern Navajo Education Program, Crownpoint, NM
  • Kim Nickerson, Project Director and Transition Specialist, Oklahoma Department of Education, Special Education Services, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Marilyn D'Ottavio, Transition Coordinator, Albuquerque Public Schools, Albuquerque, NM
  • Sandra Poolaw, American Indian Center for Excellence in Exceptional Education (AICEEE); American Indian Institute at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK, and Riverside Indian School, Anadarko, OK
  • Linda Swirzynski, Transition Coordinator, Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma City, OK

Over a two-year period many people helped establish SDTP's social validity across a variety of venues including national and regional conferences, informal round-table talks, phone conversations, and e-mail discussions. Many secondary and postsecondary educators, adult service providers, and graduate students spent many hours reviewing, editing, discussing, and revising the SDTP lessons. Many people deserve our thanks and at the risk of missing someone we want to give our public thanks to:

  • Frank Boswell, Disability Program Navigator, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Clinton, OK and member of the Oklahoma Transition Council
  • Mary Cash, Lincoln Alternative Academy, Stillwater, OK
  • Janet Cundiff, Special Needs/Compliance Officer; Metro Technology Center, Student Services, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Sharon Isbell, Compliance Officer (now retired), Oklahoma School for the Blind, Muskogee, OK
  • Denise North, Disabilities Specialist, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, Stillwater, OK
  • Linda Swirzynski, Transition Coordinator, Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma City, OK
  • Ralph Wiser, Transition Specialist, Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma City, OK

Graduate students from the University of Oklahoma's Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination wrote, edited, collected data, and provided support while developing and writing these lessons. Our thanks to

  • Penny Cantley
  • Chauncey Goff
  • John Grahmn
  • Chen-Ya Juan
  • Nidal El-Kazimi
  • Juan Portley
  • Stacy Vollmer
  • Pei Fang Wu
  • Rudy Valenzuela
  • Ashraf Hussain

Special thanks go to Ashraf Hussain who helped us get these lessons onto the web, and to Chimène Long who made the web site accessible and put the final touches on the web site.

We also thank the many teachers, students, and their parents who allowed us to pilot the SDTP lessons and tests in order to determine their effectiveness. Due to confidentially requirements associated with the research agreements we cannot list your names, but you know who you are.


Martin, J. E., Van Dycke, J., D'Ottavio, M., & Nickerson, K. (2007). The student-directed summary of performance: Increasing student and family involvement in the transition planning process. CDEI, 30, pp. 13-27.

Multi-pronged research studies will determine the effectiveness of the Student-Directed Transition Planning (SDTP) lessons.

Social Validity

Social validity demonstrates how appropriate and useful the SDTP lessons and methods will be to educators, families, and students. Advisory committee members, teachers and adult service providers, several of whom represent or work with culturally and linguistically diverse students and families, provided input into the SDTP scope and sequence and revisions until they become satisfied with the appropriateness and usefulness of the lessons.

Effectiveness of SDTP to Increase Students' Knowledge

The first study will determine the knowledge gained by students using the SDTP lessons, compared to a group of students who will not use the lessons. We anticipate that the students who will receive SDTP instruction will show meaningful and significant increases in their transition knowledge and transition self-efficacy.

Impact of SDTP on Student IEP Meetings

The second study will examine how students and families who use the SDTP lessons participate in transition IEP meetings discussions compared to students who did not use the SDTP lessons. We anticipate that students who will receive SDTP instruction will show meaningful and significant increases in their transition IEP meeting discussions and transition meeting self-efficacy.

Results from these studies will be posted on this location as they become available. Other research groups who wish to undertake their own efficacy studies using the SDTP materials may certainly do so. Please send the results to so that the findings may be posted.