Postsecondary Goals

Backwards planning means you first define the ultimate objective, then develop a plan to achieve that objective. In transition planning, postsecondary goals are the ultimate objective of a transition-focused IEP. Transition services, courses of study and annual goals are steps in a plan to reasonably enable the student to achieve the goals.

I-13 Requirement

Is there an appropriate and measurable postsecondary goal or goals that covers education or training, employment, and, as needed, independent living?

Essential Elements

  • Postsecondary goals represent the student’s perspective about their next step after high school. They can be included in the IEP at any earlier point, but in the IEP year that a student turns 16, postsecondary goals must be included and measurable. They are based on the student’s strengths, preferences and interests, and are identified through use of age-appropriate transition assessments.
  • Measurable means the goal statements clearly describe the specific action, step or activity the student will undertake after high school completion. The student should be able to easily determine later if they have taken the specified action, step or activity. Accessible version of below diagram (PDF, 1 page)
Suggested format for postsecondary goals.
  • IEP teams should discuss postsecondary goals with the student any time high school courses and diplomas are discussed. This helps keep courses and diplomas aligned with the postsecondary goals and helps the student and family understand the relationship between their in-school decisions and post-school plans.
  • Each student’s post-school plan and needs are different. Early in the planning process, postsecondary goals can and should be general. They become more specific and more measurable as students near high school completion, and as they learn more about themselves and their goals.
  • Goals are most often found out of compliance with Indicator 13 because:
    • no specific area of interest was identified by age 16, or
    • the area of interest does not align with transition assessment results, or
    • the goal is not measurable/cannot be observed, or
    • the goal is not stated to occur after graduation or completion of high school.

Student Voice

Measurable postsecondary goals drive a transition-focused IEP. When students and IEP team members plan together and create transition elements of the IEP together, the plan can help launch the student into post-school life.

Evidence shows student-led, transition-focused IEP meetings help students build self-determination skills by teaching them how to set goals, work to achieve goals, revise goals as needed, and persevere. 

Step one is creating postsecondary goals that are based on the student’s responses to transition assessments.

Background Information

Overview of MPSGs

There are three areas: education or training, employment, and as needed, independent living. 4:55-minutes.

Essential Elements of a MPSG


Student Engagement

Engaging students in writing their postsecondary goals. 4:08 minutes.


Education/training: four-year college or university, technical college, two-year college, military, specific vocational or career field, independent living skill training, vocational training program, apprenticeship, on-the-job training, Job Corps, or other program

Employment: paid (competitive, supported, sheltered), unpaid (internship, volunteer), or other

Independent living skills: adult living, daily living, independent living, financial, transportation, and other skills



Education/Training: Upon completion of high school, Avery will attend the Information Technology training program at a NH community college.

Younger: After graduation, Avery will enroll in a program in the computer field at a local community college. (The Younger versions on this page might be the student’s goal statements prior to the IEP in their final year.)

Employment: After college graduation, Avery will work full-time as a computer technician in the computer technology field.

Younger: After college, Avery will work full-time with computers.

Independent Living: After college graduation, Avery will live with roommates/peers in an apartment or house.

Younger: Avery will live away from home after graduation.


Education/Training: Upon completion of high school, Riley will receive on-the-job training from an employer at a construction company.

Employment: Upon completion of high school, Riley will work full time as a general laborer for a construction company.

Independent Living: The team has determined an independent living goal is not required.  


Education/training: Upon completion of high school, Blake will participate in independent living skills training and on-the-job training.

Employment: Upon graduation from high school, Blake will work part-time in a job that involves working with people and being active.

Independent living: Upon completion of high school, Blake will live in a community-based living situation with a supportive roommate or other supported living arrangement.


Neither of these statements reveals actual goals. The statements are just expressions of interest and don’t specify after high school timing.

  • Education/training: Clare thinks she would like to pursue postsecondary education at a four-year college.
  • Employment: Clare has expressed interest in graphic arts and animal technician fields of employment.


Updated 10-26-22