Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA 2004)
The 2004 IDEA reauthorization raised expectations for students with disabilities through increased academic expectations and state and district accountability standards. Additionally, transition was re-defined and the role of transition planning in the development of IEPs was strengthened, including a new requirement for a summary of performance prior to graduation from high school for students receiving special education services.
IDEA 2004 requires that "all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living." (§300.1 Purposes)
Transition services are defined as a "coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability...within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child's movement from school to post-school activities." (§300.43 Transition Services)
Transition services and activities must be included in the development of the IEP no later than the first IEP to be in effect when the student turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and must include appropriate measurable post-secondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills.
Transition services and activities (including courses of study) needed to assist the student in reaching post-secondary goals must be based on the individual student's needs, strengths, preferences, and interests and must include instruction, related services, community experiences, employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
A student with a disability must be invited to attend their IEP meeting whenever postsecondary goals and transition services are considered. Upon reaching the age of majority (age 18 in Texas), the parental rights transfer to the adult student. With the consent of the parent or adult student, a representative of any participating agency that is likely to be responsible for providing or paying for transition services must also be invited to attend the IEP meeting.
Finally, prior to graduation from secondary school, the student must be provided with a summary of academic achievement and functional performance, including recommendations for assistance the student may need to meet their post-secondary goals.