Do IEP Meetings Relate Well to Students’ Goals for Adult Life?

Thu Feb 28 2019
A mentor and student, leaning over open textbooks and smiling.

Individualized Education Program (IEP) transition planning meetings are a common event for transition-age students with disabilities. But how do factors such as a student’s participation and contribution in those meetings relate to the student’s aspirations for postsecondary education, employment, economic independence, and independent living?

To address this question, ICI developed a project called “Exploring Predictors of Transition Planning Participation and Future Goal Aspirations of Secondary Students with Disabilities.” By reviewing data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study 2012 (NLTS 2012) researchers will identify student, family, and school factors that predict IEP transition planning meeting experiences and examine the relationship between the significant predictors, transition meeting perspectives, and the aspirations for secondary students with disabilities. Funded by a two-year, $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education, this current study also examines how relations differ by disability category.

NLTS 2012 was a national study of transition-age students with disabilities to identify the challenges they face as they prepare for life after high school, and examined the factors that may improve that transition. Conducted by Mathematica Policy Research with assistance from ICI, the five-year study ended in 2015 and resulted in a multivolume national report on secondary school students in special education that examined how they compare with their peers. ICI’s David Johnson (current project director) and Martha Thurlow were among the authors of this report, and now they and Yi-Chen Wu and Xueqin Qian are reviewing this data to explore how factors in IEP transition planning meetings relate to how high school students with disabilities want to live as adults. The researchers will present their findings at conferences and publish them in journal articles.

“Understanding the factors related to participation in the IEP transition planning meeting is important,” says Wu. “Knowing what factors contribute to students taking a leadership role during this process also has a great impact on the quality of transition services provided to students with disabilities and their families.”