What happens to the IEP after high school?

Far too often families contact CUSP asking about their child’s current IEP and how that will transfer over into college.  The truth is that in college the student has much more responsibility in advocating for what they need whether physical or academic accommodations are needed.

If your child receives special education services, they must have an Individualized Education Program or IEP. An IEP is a legal document that defines your child’s learning needs and how the school will meet these needs. Several people are included in creating the document such as parents, teachers and counselors. The goal is to define your child’s strengths and weaknesses to help them excel in school.

How Often are IEPs Reviewed?

An IEP will stay with your child as long as they need it. Generally, IEPs are reviewed each year, but they can be done more so if you request it. The IEP will then be revised as necessary to accommodate your child’s needs. IEPs are an excellent way to get everyone on the same page and have all important information documented. If there are ever any questions, the IEP will address your child’s educational goals and what modifications the school has agreed upon.

What Happens After High School?

Once a child graduates from high school, an IEP more or less disappears. This comes as a huge change for special needs students and their families who have relied on an IEP over the past decade or more. If your student needs accommodations in college because they have ASD or ADD for example, there is no formal, legal document that will clearly define what the school will do to meet these special needs. You can’t help but feel a little lost.

Currently, the only option that IEP students have when looking for colleges or universities is to communicate extensively about their needs while they are still in high school and have their IEP.

Students wishing to gain a higher education need to talk to colleges and universities while they have a support network around them. Counselors, school psychologists, special education teachers and other specialists can provide insight and guidance to your student and be their second voice. More colleges and universities are finding ways to accommodate students with special needs, so fighting for these modifications is worth every effort.

Make Use of Transition Planning

It’s important to point out that an IEP does contain transition planning that prepares teens for life after high school. So while the IEP does technically “go away” after graduation, it does address some of the skills needed to excel beyond graduation. Factors included in transition planning are post-secondary education, development of career and vocational skills and the ability to live independently.

Additionally, it’s beneficial to look at the resources your community offers to help your student make the transition from high school to adulthood. Many communities have employment programs and training for students in the transition process, and these programs can be very helpful in preparing a student for college. The key is ensuring that you follow through with the IEP and the transition planning while you have the support network available to you.

For more information about transition planning, contact CUSP today!!!