Student Participation

Definition: All students are prepared to participate and do participate meaningfully in the development of their post-school goals and plans to achieve those goals, and in any relevant meetings.


  • Transition-focused planning begins no later than age 14
  • Planning team includes student, family members, and school and participating agency personnel, with an identified leader to call and lead the meetings at a mutually convenient place and time
  • Meetings are well-planned, and enough time is allowed to cover the agenda
  • Accommodations are made for communication needs (e.g., interpreters)
  • Referral to adult service provider(s) occurs prior to student’s exit from school

Students are informed about transition planning

A nice graphic from Oregon that shows the Path to Transition Planning, linking the major steps along a path to a successful adult life, from Oregon’s Transition Resource Handbook.

Whose Future is It Anyway? is an evidence-based practice in building student knowledge of transition planning, by Dr. Michael Wehmeyer and others. The curriculum has six sections that contain 36 lesson sessions. It comes with a Coach’s Guide (PDF, 51 pages, 2004)

The National Center on Secondary Education and Transition (NCSET) coordinates national resources, offers technical assistance, and disseminates information related to secondary education and transition for youth with disabilities. NCSET is headquartered at the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota. The website has many resources geared toward families and youth.

Glossary of special education and transition terms

Students actively participate in meetings

Evidence-based overviews and links to lesson plan starters for teaching IEP meeting participation. You will be prompted to set up an account with NTACT ( when you click on the PDF name.

Best practices for successful transition meetings:

  • Goal or purpose of meeting is clear and is communicated in advance
  • Student participates in setting the goal and agenda for the meeting
  • All of the people needed to achieve the goal or purpose are present
  • Everyone participates, and no one dominates
  • Discussion leader sticks to the agenda and is mindful of the time
  • Discussion and decisions are summarized at the end, with clear follow-up tasks noted
  • For more on successful meetings, see

Theresa Johnson, M.Ed., teacher and mother of a deaf child, presents her experience in empowering and encouraging her child’s participation in her IEP meetings: You can download the PDF (7 pages) from this cached link.

How students learn more when they are trained to direct their own IEP meetings:

WI Facets (Wisconsin Family Assistance Center for Education, Training, and Support) is a nonprofit that has developed, a guidebook and website that offers many helpful transition resources to students and families. See, at, the Family Engagement for High School Success Toolkit, which offers checklists and tables to support the pathway to graduation for at-risk students (see pp. 78-100). From United Way Worldwide and Harvard Family Research Project.


Map It: What Comes Next is a free, online, interactive training from Pepnet2 designed for transition-aged students who are deaf or hard of hearing. The training uses three questions: Who Am I?, What Do I Want?, How Do I Get There?