Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools
9. Transition Planning
  • 9.1Transition Planning for Students with Diverse Needs
    • 9.1.1 Transition Planning: Preschool to Elementary School
    • 9.1.2 Transition Planning: To the Next Grade Within the School
    • 9.1.3 Transition Planning: Elementary to High School
    • 9.1.4 Transition Planning: High School to Post-Secondary and Work Settings
  • 9.2 Transition Planning for Students with Designated Disabilities
    • 9.2.1 Transition Planning: Preschool to Elementary School
    • 9.2.2 Transition Planning: To the Next Grade Within the School
    • 9.2.3 Transition Planning: Elementary to High School
    • 9.2.4 Transition Planning: High School to Post-Secondary and Work Settings


9.1 Transition Planning for Students With Diverse Needs

Transition planning is crucial to program planning for children and youth with diverse and exceptional needs. Collaborative planning between family, teachers, and other agencies is an integral part of a successful transition plan. Transition planning is an on-going process which involves identifying future needs, preparing the student for future environments, and providing information to future teachers and/or service providers. This coordination is especially important at key transition times, such as school entry, transition from elementary to high school, and exit from school into post secondary education or a work setting.

An effective student-centered transition plan should be futuristic and should include the following components:

  • family involvement,
  • a collaborative team,
  • a personal transition plan, and
  • frequent review and revision of the transition plan.

9.1.1 Transition Planning: Preschool to Elementary School

  • The school accesses information from outside agencies previously involved with the child such as:
    • speech and language services,
    • Alvin Buckwold Child Development Program,
    • Child and Youth Services (social skills programs), and/or
    • preschool programs and teachers.
  • The kindergarten teacher ensures that students are able to visit the kindergarten room and meet with the teacher in the spring prior to entering kindergarten, as this helps to reduce anxiety.
  • The kindergarten teacher arranges to meet early in the new school year with parents to support adjustment to school.
  • The kindergarten teacher may want to develop a checklist of skills that most children entering kindergarten will have. Such a checklist helps in communicating with parents and setting goals. A sample checklist is provided (Chandler, 1993).

Transition Skills Related to Successful Transition from Preschool to Kindergarten

Social Behaviors and Classroom Conduct

  • understands role as part of group.
  • respects others and their property.
  • interacts and defends self without aggression.
  • plays cooperatively; shares toys and materials.
  • expresses emotions and affections appropriately.
  • takes turn; participates appropriately in games.
  • is willing to try something new.
  • follows class rules and routines.
  • lines up and waits appropriately.
  • imitates peer actions.
  • sits appropriately.
  • plays independently.

Communication Behaviors

  • follows two to three part directions.
  • initiates and maintains peer interactions.
  • modifies behavior when given verbal feedback.
  • asks peers or teachers for information or assistance.
  • recalls and follows directions for tasks previously described.
  • follows group instructions.
  • relates ideas and experiences.
  • answers questions.
  • communicates own needs and wants.

Task-Related Behaviors

  • finds materials needed for tasks.
  • does not disrupt peers during activities.
  • complies quickly with teacher instructions.
  • generalizes skills across tasks and situations.
  • follows task directions in small or large group.
  • replaces materials and cleans up work space.
  • monitors own behavior; knows when a task is done.
  • begins and completes work at appropriate time without extra teacher attention.
  • makes choices.
  • stays in own space.
  • follows routine in transition
  • uses a variety of materials
  • seeks attention appropriately
  • attends to teacher in a large group

Self-Help Behaviors

  • recognizes when a problem exists.
  • locates and cares for personal belongings.
  • avoids dangers and responds to warning words.
  • takes outer clothing off and puts it on in a reasonable amount of time
  • tries strategies to solve problems
  • feeds self independently.
  • cares for own toileting needs.

9.1.2 Transition Planning: To the Next Grade Within the School

The learning assistance teacher assumes the role of facilitator in grade to grade transition planning within the school. This involves communicating with the receiving teacher regarding the studentís needs, current assessment, current personal program plan, and providing suggestions for supports required in the upcoming year.

  • Ideally, the current classroom teacher meets with the receiving classroom teacher and the learning assistance teacher at the end of the school year to plan for any students who need adaptations or academic supports in the upcoming year.
  • Early in the new school year, the learning assistance teacher meets with each classroom teacher to identify and plan for students who are experiencing difficulty.
  • The receiving classroom teacher is informed of the studentís strengths and weaknesses as well as effective adaptations. This information may be provided by the previous teacher or from the studentís learning assistance or cummulative file.
  • The receiving classroom teacher reviews the personal program plan from the previous year, if it is available.
  • Adaptations are made based on what has worked in the past and with consideration for the demands of this new classroom context.
  • The learning assistance teacher works with the classroom teacher and advocates for and supports appropriate adaptations.
  • As the student advances to upper elementary grades, support may no longer be provided by the learning assistance teacher through direct service such as pull-out groups or in-class intervention. At this point the accommodations checklist from the form: Learning Assistance and Classroom Supports for Middle Years Students, should be completed in collaboration with the classroom teacher. The accommodations identified as necessary are then implemented by the classroom teacher with support from the learning assistance teacher as planned.

9.1.3 Transition Planning: Elementary to High School

The elementary learning assistance teacher works with the grade eight classroom teacher to prepare transition information for the receiving high school. If a student is to be referred for academic supports at the high school, a cognitive assessment should be requested and used to support future programming, if a cognitive assessment has not been previously completed.

The elementary learning assistance teacher:

  • builds a transition team involving the student, parents, classroom teacher, learning assistance teacher and contact person at the high school, who typically is the high school learning assistance teacher,
  • works with grade 7 and 8 teachers to determine the adaptations that support the student (see accommodations checklist from the form: Learning Assistance and Classroom Supports for Middle Years Students),
  • updates standardized assessments as needed,
  • provides information to students and parents about various supports available at high school,
  • teaches the student self-advocacy skills,
  • teaches cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies,
  • arranges a visit to the learning assistance program at the high school for the student to meet the high school learning assistance teacher if necessary, and
  • starts a portfolio for the student to highlight areas of interest and success such as
    • working with special needs students,
    • noon-hour phone monitor,
    • school patroller.

The high school learning assistance teacher:

  • shares pertinent information and explains the studentís unique needs to the high school teachers with whom the student is working,
  • provides suggestions to teachers about ways to support students regarding:
    • rules,
    • assignment expectations,
    • opportunities for extra help,
    • importance of providing written and oral instructions, assignment lists, study guides,
  • provides suggestions for adaptations for specific students to teachers,
  • supports selection of classes/instructors that best suit the student,
  • identifies students in regular classes who need extra supports and arranges for tutorial support,
  • provides learning assistance tutorial or co-teaching support when required, and
  • teaches the student self-advocacy skills.

The studentís transition to high school may be supported by:

  • transition/core classes in grade 9 (available in some high schools),
  • teacher guardian groups (available in some high schools).

9.1.4 Transition Planning: High School to Post Secondary and Work Settings

The high school learning assistance teacher facilitates a studentís transition to post secondary and work settings. This is typically a shared responsibility with the guidance counselor and the process may be initiated by the parent or the student. As facilitator, the learning assistance teacher may need to arrange for current standardized cognitive and/or academic assessments, provide a history of the accommodations that have been used to support the student, and provide information regarding supports the student will require at a post-secondary level. If standardized assessment is required, this assessment should be completed sufficiently early in the studentís high school career to support programming for the student in high school, as well as in future educational programs.

Four basic questions can serve as a guide in preparing students for transition from high school to post-secondary education or the work world. (Learning Disabilities of America, 1999, p. 7)

  1. Where is this student going?
    • Explore and clarify employment goals.
    • Identify lifestyle preferences.
    • Recognize educational needs.
  2. What is needed to help the student reach the identified goals?
    • Obtain knowledge of courses required for a high school diploma and of elective courses which will help to prepare the student for career choices.
    • Identify experiences which will lend enrichment and help in the studentís decision-making process.
    • Identify classroom adaptations/accommodations based on student need.
  3. Who needs to be involved?
    • Student - parents - special educator - vocational educator - guidance counselor - vocational rehabilitation counselor - higher education personnel - community-based organizations such as Mental Health providers, potential employers.
  4. How will the goals be accomplished?
    • Choose a transition member to serve as case manager.
    • Decide who will implement various activities.
    • Hold meetings as necessary to monitor the implementation of activities or to change activities.
    • Review the transition plan annually or as needed.

To help prepare students for transition from high school:

  1. Consult as early as possible with a school counselor about interests, goals, training needs, and reasons for choice.
  2. Participate in vocational interest and abilities/aptitude testing to determine which job cluster areas are best suited.
  3. Develop self-knowledge and proficiency in self-advocacy skills. Attain an understanding of the particular disability. Become familiar and comfortable with the following:
    • learning strengths and weaknesses and how disability can affect performance and/or verbal skills,
    • working with the school counselor on self advocacy skills and practicing those skills with favorite teachers,
    • knowing what kinds of modifications and accommodations have helped in the past and what would be helpful in the future,
    • knowledge about laws that support and protect persons with disabilities in the work environment.
  4. Contact Vocational Rehabilitation to determine eligibility for job development and coaching, counseling, training, assistive technology, and job placement services.
  5. Visit a number of post secondary settings and job sites in the fields the student has identified as interests.
  6. Help arrange the studentís high school schedule so that future courses will provide the necessary preparation.
  7. To help establish a work record and possible references, find summertime volunteer or paid opportunities for the student during the junior or senior years of high school.
  8. Work with the student to develop a resume listing all paid job experiences and volunteer work.


9.2 Transition Planning for Students With Designated Disabilities

9.2.1 Transition Planning: Preschool to Elementary

  1. Students may be attending St. Augustine Preschool, Alvin Buckwold Child Development Program, or a Community Preschool. Clear on-going communication between preschool and kindergarten programs should be initiated as early as possible (January or February).

  2. It is suggested that the receiving team observed the child in the preschool program sometime during the last week of April or the first two weeks of May. Arrangements may be made by contacting the preschool teacher. Substitutes may be arranged by contacting the Student Services Coordinator.

  3. Share records (diagnostic and assessment information, medical reports, speech and language, etc.) with parental consent in a timely manner.

  4. Conduct a transition meeting. The transition team should include parents, as well as the sending and receiving educational teams. Other team members may include speech and language pathologists, coordinator, physicians, psychologists or personnel from other community agencies. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss programming and share information as well as to identify resources or options that may support the child.

  5. Encourage the child and parents to visit the school prior to placement. The number of visits will be determined by the transition team.

  6. Invite the preschool teacher to the fall program planning meeting.

  7. Post-placement communication may support smooth transition.

9.2.2 Transition Planning: To the Next Grade Within the School

Ongoing communication among school-based members is critical to effective transition for students. As students progress from one grade level to the next, there is an opportunity to further develop independence and personal/social skills. The following suggestions may assist in preparing for transition to the next grade level.

  1. The opportunity to observe the student in their present classroom setting may be helpful to the receiving teacher.

  2. It is suggested that a transition meeting be held to discuss program plans for the following year. This meeting should include the parents and teachers and might also include other school-based team members.

  3. The current teacher should pass on all information to the receiving teacher.

  4. The role of the learning assistance teacher is to facilitate the coordination of team meetings and the sharing of information and effective strategies.

Refer to Module 10 Record Keeping Forms:

  • Level 1 Transition Skills
  • Level 2 Transition Skills

9.2.3 Transition Planning: Elementary to High School

Transition for some students with designated disabilities requires a longer period than the following recommended transition outline below. If in doubt about the need for an extended transition, the learning assistance teacher from the sending school might discuss the studentís unique needs with the receiving high school learning assistance teacher prior to the eighth grade.

Suggested Time Line for Transition of Grade 8 Students with Designated Disabilities:

  • End of September

The learning assistance teacher from the sending school initiates the transition process by contacting the receiving high school learning assistance teacher and forwarding the cover page of the studentís Personal Program Plan.
  • January
    The receiving high school contacts the sending elementary school to arrange a time to observe the student in the elementary school setting, meet with the learning assistance teacher to develop or implement a transition plan, and arrange times for transition visits to the high school.

  • March/April
    Transition meetings include the parents, classroom teacher, and the learning assistance teachers from both the elementary and high schools.

    These transition meetings should include:

    • MAPS, program planning,
    • high school registration information,
    • opening procedures, transportation,
    • school program files,
    • course information,
    • times set for student to visit high school,
    • establishment of goals.

To support transition, the elementary learning assistance teacher:

  • communicates with the student and his/her parents concerning impending grade 8 transition to high school,
  • provides information concerning the studentís strengths and needs to the receiving high school following the suggested time line above,
  • communicates with team members (such as Occupational Therapist; Physio Therapist; Speech and Language Pathologist) identifying possible transition needs/concerns,
  • discusses current instructional, personal care, and/or behavioral strategies with receiving high school personnel.

The high school learning assistance teacher:

  • coordinates visits and meetings with the sending elementary school,
  • develops programming for the student,
  • possibly visits the sending school to meet/observe the student in the elementary school setting,
  • provides information to teachers regarding student strengths and needs and adaptation/alternative programming,
  • clarifies and develops the role of the teacher assistant for teachers and parents,
  • arranges schedules for students and teacher assistant with consideration given to the strengths and needs of student,
  • provides tutorials,
  • provides support for teachers,
  • continues to support student development of independence and self-advocacy skills.

Refer to Module 10 Record Keeping Forms for the following forms to support the transition process.

1. Transition Plan

  • Elementary to High School
  • High School to Community

2. Transition to High School - Teacher Meeting

3. Planning Meeting for Incoming Student

4. Visits to High Schools

5. Sample of a Transition Assignment

6. Transition Checklist

9.2.4 Transition Planning: From High School to Post Secondary and Work Settings

Early in the high school years, the transition process begins to focus on leaving school and entering the adult world of work and/or post secondary education.

An initial stage includes introducing parents and students to representatives of community agencies to gain information about services provided. A transition team leader should be appointed. Ideally, parents will take leadership after the first formal transition meeting and work closely with the teacher throughout high school and a mode of communication established for collaboration of team members between formal meetings.

At the transition meetings during high school, typical issues for discussion are:

  • the studentís preferences and goals for a possible career,
  • the studentís personal profile, her/his gifts and capacities, and the development of skills crucial to the studentís quality of life,
  • creation of a realistic vision for the student, based on the studentís desired future,
  • the supports necessary for the student to learn a job and live a lifestyle according to her/his preferences and potential,
  • advocacy and support; the formal and informal networks that will need to be developed to support the student in the present environments and after leaving school,
  • developing advocacy for the student now and after leaving school,
  • continued development of self determination and self advocacy,
  • how community services will be used,
  • living arrangement after leaving school,
  • how community involvement will be maximized (including transportation),
  • optimizing social competence,
  • social-sexual instruction and development of relationships,
  • fostering friendships,
  • developing leisure interests,
  • health concerns and developing a wellness lifestyle,
  • financial arrangements,
  • long-term care; issues regarding any legal will or trust arrangements within the family,
  • support from social services,
  • input from community representatives.

All transition meetings should end by clarifying

  • the action steps that have been planned,
  • the persons responsible for each actions, and
  • a time line indicating when the actions should be completed.
A method for monitoring the transition development and evaluating the effectiveness should also be chosen.

- Refer to Module 10 Record Keeping Forms:

  • Transition Plan: High School to Community/Post-Secondary - 10.7.2
  • Transition Checklist - to identify needs and goals- 10.7.7

Other resources

  1. Saskatchewan Education Document: Creating Opportunities for Students with Intellectual or Multiple Disabilities
  2. School to Life Transition Handbook - prepared by Rita McLeod
  3. Saskatchewan Association for Community Living Directory

A comprehensive list of provincial support organizations is available from the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living (phone: 306-955-3344). Contacting a support organization that is specific to the studentís disability or condition (i.e. The Canadian National Institute for the Blind, The Autism Society, The Deaf and Hard of Hearing Association, The Fetal Alcohol Association, the Brain Injury Society, etc.) may also be helpful.


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