The primary purpose of this correlational study was to examine the impact of IEP team composition (team member attendance) and transition planning (types of transition outcomes) upon the success (graduation) of students with disabilities in urban districts. Other factors also included gender, academic status of school, socioeconomic status of the students, and age of students at graduation.
Transition is defined as the point at which change occurs in somebody’s life (Cimera & Rusch, 2000). All humans are affected or impacted by transitions occurring in their lives. Some researchers agree that transition for students with disabilities can be more difficult than transition for students without disabilities, reflecting the need for the participation of students with disabilities in their IEP development specifically transition planning (Cimera & Rusch, 2000; Furney & Salembier, 2000; Gargiulo, 2003; Kohler & Chapman, 1999; Martin, Marshall & Sale, 2004; Patton, 2004; Trach & Sheldon, 2000; Wagner & Blackorby, 1996). Furthermore, planning and implementing transition services for students with disabilities is mandated by federal law.
The evidence of transition planning is the development of the transition page of the student’s individual education plan (IEP). Every sixteen year old student with disabilities should have a transition page developed and incorporated into the IEP and every fourteen year old student with disabilities should have a statement of needed transition services incorporated into the IEP. The development of the transition page is critical because the goals of these transition services address the following areas: instruction, community service, employment, and other adult-living objectives (Yell, 2006). The achievement of these transition goals translates to a better quality of life in adulthood for students with disabilities (Gargiulo, 2003). For example, Benz, Lindstrom, and Yovanoff (as cited in Conderman & Katisyannis, 2002) identified that career-related work experience and the completion of student-identified transition goals were highly associated with improved graduation and employment outcomes. Furthermore, IDEA 2004 (IDEIA) requires IEP teams to prepare recommendations and a summary of the student’s academic achievement and functional performance, which includes recommendations on how to assist the student to meet postsecondary goals (IDEA, 20 U.S.C. sec. 1414(e)(5)(B)(ii)). Likewise, research indicates the need for comprehensive transitional planning with a broad focus (Childre & Chambers, 2005; The PACER Center, 2006; Warger & Burnette, 2000).
The primary independent variables (IEP team composition, the number of transition outcomes present, and the type of transition outcomes present) demonstrated statistical significance as indicated by an increase in the number of transition outcomes when parents and students are present at the IEP conferences and by the increase in the types of transition outcomes included in the discussion during transition planning. These results may direct future research. Particularly, a relationship exists between parent presence, administrator presence, and student presence at the IEP conference and the number of outcomes present in the IEP; student presence at the annual IEP conference and graduation; parent presence and types of transition outcomes (independent living and community service) and student presence and types of transition outcomes during the eleventh grade year.