Transition planning is required by law under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Together, the transition planning document and plan is known as the Transition Individualized Education Program, or TIEP.
The TIEP is similar to the IEP for K-12 students in that it is a collaborative document between a student and the student’s parents, teachers, and specialists to outline goals for the student. However, the TIEP focuses less on meeting educational goals and more on outlining goals and a plan for post-high school activities, including work, higher education, life skills, and community involvement.
The purpose of a TIEP meeting
A TIEP meeting must happen once a student turns 16, although some states and school districts begin the process at the start of or during middle school. The TIEP meeting’s primary goals are to A: learn more about the student’s interests and goals for the future, and B: develop a plan to help the student stay on a productive path to meet those goals throughout the remainder of their K-12 education.
The TIEP meeting gives everyone involved in the meeting a framework for meeting the student’s goals and needs. The team should walk away understanding what services can help the student in and out of school and what role each person has in supporting the student’s current and future goals.
Ensuring a successful TIEP meeting
A successful TIEP meeting ultimately falls on the TIEP team's shoulders to ensure that a student’s best interests and future goals are planned well. The student and the student’s parent or guardian should leave the meeting feeling that they understand what services and resources the school will tap into to plan and meet these goals.
The following are a few steps to take to have a successful TIEP meeting:
Consider starting the TIEP process well before the student turns 16. Even if you don’t host the official TIEP meeting until then, you can still have informal meetings with the student, the student’s family, specialists, and service coordinators beforehand. You’ll get an idea of what the student has planned for their future to help you start gathering resources now.
Based on what you know about the student and their goals, you can connect with school and community resources before the TIEP meeting to have plenty of information to share with the family. Ask the family if it’s okay to release the student’s information to potentially helpful services and get signed releases, if necessary. You and the family will know more about what resources are available for the student and how to implement them before the TIEP meeting occurs.
Get everyone involved
Coordinating schedules with everyone you expect to be present for the TIEP meeting can be a challenge, but you might overcome this by sending invitations early. Send a "save the date" invitation about six months ahead of the tentative meeting. Then, send another at three months, one month, and one week before the meeting. Try to get as many people to attend in-person, over the phone, or on video as possible. In addition to the student, the student’s family, and the school representative, the TIEP team might include specialists, service coordinators or representatives, and higher education representatives.
Let the student lead
Allow the student to take control of the meeting if they feel comfortable enough to do so. The student might introduce each person, talk about their progress and goals, and discuss each piece of the TIEP document. If the student doesn’t want to lead the meeting, be sure to check in with the student and their family before moving onto the next section.
Outline numerous goals
The TIEP is a working document that should include multiple goals for the student. In addition to academic goals, the team can outline vocational, functional, self-advocacy, community, and social-emotional goals for the student. With detailed and focused planning, the student should feel prepared to transition from high school to post-high school life.
Record the meeting
You cover a lot of information in a TIEP meeting, making it easy to forget details. If possible, record the session via audio or video to share with participants. Check with your state’s Department of Education to determine if recording the TIEP meeting is allowed.
Keep the student and family updated
After the TIEP meeting, be available to modify or add to the original TIEP as needed. Keep the student and family updated when you learn about new services and resources that might help meet the student’s goals and any setbacks you run into with planning or setting up services. If the family requests significant changes to the TIEP, set a follow-up meeting to allow an open and transparent discussion.
The TIEP directly impacts a student’s next phase of life as they transition out of high school. Planning early and involving the student and their family in the process can help ensure a successful move into adulthood and the community.