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High School/Individual Education Plan

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Your Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and Individualized Transition Plan (ITP) help you become a successful adult. These plans are designed in private meetings each year. IEP and ITP meetings may be held at the same time.

The school should tell you and your parents or legal guardians about upcoming IEP meetings, which the following people may attend:

  • Student
  • Parents/legal guardians
  • Special education teacher
  • Regular education teacher
  • Transition specialist
  • Principal
  • Other people selected by the parent, student, or school
This team may discuss the following topics:
  • Future educational plans (college or vocational)
  • Employment
  • Benefits
  • Housing or residential supports
  • Transportation
  • Social life
The following questions may be addressed at an IEP meeting:
  • What are my interests, preferences, and goals after graduating or leaving school?
  • What supports or services will be required to reach my goals?
  • What agencies provide the supports and services I will need to reach my goals, and what plans need to be made to get those services and supports?
  • Who will be responsible for making plans for needed supports and services?
  • Who will talk with everyone to make sure that I get the help I need to meet my goals?
IEP goals should:
  • Be useful to your life
  • Be specific and measurable
  • Have time frames for learning skills
Remember that your adult life is discussed at these meetings and the plans should help you to reach your goals. You should speak up!

Before the Meeting: Prepare ahead to participate in your IEP team meeting and get the most out of it:

  • Let your parents and teachers know that you want to attend the meeting.
  • Look at your IEP from last year. If you don’t understand the language in your IEP, ask your parents or teachers to explain.
  • Be ready to talk about your disability—think about how you would describe it.
  • Make a list of questions that you would like to ask and take it to the meeting. If writing the questions is difficult, use a tape recorder.
  • What are your goals for the future? Can you think of things that might help you succeed?
  • Practice what you want to say at the meeting with your parents, a trusted friend, or in front of a mirror.
In the Meeting: Attending your IEP meeting can be a little scary at first. Here are some tips that can help you participate fully:
  • Introduce yourself and listen to others as they introduce themselves.
  • Speak up and maintain eye contact.
  • Discuss your strengths, your weaknesses, and things that help you to succeed. Remember to talk about your goals.
  • Take notes or have someone take notes for you.
  • Listen to the suggestions of others, and think about whether their recommendations will work for you.
  • If you hear something that surprises or upsets you, remain calm.
  • Ask questions if you do not understand what is being discussed.
  • Request a copy of your IEP for your own records.

Certificate or Diploma?

Part of the transition process is deciding whether to aim for a certificate or a high school diploma. The IEP team—including the student and parents—should make this decision when a student enters 9th grade. If you attend a nongraded school, you will probably receive a certificate. The following table outlines some of the differences between a certificate and a diploma.

Certificate Diploma
Colleges and trade schools do not recognize a certificate. A high school diploma is needed to get financial aid for college or trade school.
Many employers do not consider a certificate to be equal to a diploma. High school graduates have better employment opportunities.
The certificate focuses on work and daily living skills, and it serves the needs of students who need extra support to keep a job and live in the community. Graduates must meet academic requirements, including the following: 4 units of English; Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II; 4 units of science, including 3 laboratory science units; and 2 units of world language.


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