Support for Youth Whose Post-High School Plans were Impacted by COVID-19

A Brief Overview

  • Students who did not make adequate progress on IEP goals due to COVID-19 may be eligible for Recovery Services. IEP teams are responsible to make individualized, student-centered decisions about this option for additional educational services.
  • Students who turned 21 and “aged out” of their IEP services during the pandemic may be eligible for Transition Recovery Services. Read on for information and resources.
  • Transition Recovery Services are funded through a combination of state and federal sources, including through the American Rescue Plan. Transition Recovery will be an option for several years—beyond Summer 2021.

Full Article

For students with disabilities, getting ready for life after high school can include work-based learning, career cruising, job shadowing, college tours, training for use of public transportation, community networking, agency connections, and much more. A student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) is built to guide a student toward unique post-graduation goals.

COVID-19 halted the high-school transition process for many students. IEP teams are required to consider Transition Recovery Services to help those students get back on track toward post-secondary goals, including if they “aged out” by turning 21.

Transition Recovery Services are funded through a combination of state and federal sources, including through the American Rescue Plan. Transition Recovery will be an option for years—beyond summer 2021.

Keep in mind that Transition Recovery Services are uniquely designed for a specific student, and the “school day” may look quite different than traditional high school.

Eligibility for Transition Recovery Services is an IEP team decision

To consider Recovery Services, the IEP team reviews what a student was expected to achieve or access before COVID-19. The team then compares those expectations to the student’s actual achievements and experiences. If a service was “available,” but not accessible to the student due to disability, family circumstances, or something else, the team considers that.

Recovery Services are provided to enable students to get another chance on their transition projects and goals. According to guidance from Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI), IEP teams are responsible to discuss these topics in good faith and not rely solely on specific data measures for decision-making:

“Recovery Services should focus on helping the student achieve the level of progress on IEP goals expected if the pandemic had not occurred. These services should not be based on a percentage or formula calculation; the timeline and amount of recovery services should be an individualized decision for every student with an IEP.”

Keep in mind that schools are required to include family members on the IEP team. OSPI’s guidance also states, “Parents and families are key partners in identifying the need for Recovery Services, as they generally have current information about the student from the time of the school facility closures and since. As with all special education processes, school districts must provide language access supports, including interpretation and translation as needed, to support decisions about recovery services.

“School districts must ensure parents have the information and supports necessary to participate in the decision-making process.”

Here’s a set of questions for IEP teams to consider:

  1. What did we hope to accomplish?
  2. What did we accomplish?
  3. What was the gap, and how can we fill that gap?

OSPI’s guidance was shared with families at a May 26, 2021, webinar. OSPI shares its webinars publicly on a website page titled Monthly Updates for Districts and Schools.

Every IEP team should talk about Recovery Services

OSPI makes clear that school staff are responsible to discuss Recovery Services with every family that is part of an IEP team. “Families should not have to make a special request for this process to occur,” according to Washington’s Roadmap for Special Education Recovery Services: 2021 & Beyond.

The urgency of the discussion depends on a student’s circumstances. IEP teams supporting students at the end of their high-school experiences may need to meet promptly. Other teams may wait until the new school year or until the annual IEP review.

According to state guidance, “To be clear, OSPI is not requiring districts to immediately schedule and hold IEP meetings for every student with an IEP. These decisions may need to take place prior to the start of the 2021–22 school year, prior to the annual IEP review date, or could happen at the upcoming annual review date if the district and parent agree.”

The key question to bring to the meeting

TIP: Families and schools will consider this big-picture question, so write this one down and carry it into the IEP meeting:

“How will the school provide the services that the individual student needs to complete all of the experiences and learning that the IEP team had planned before a pandemic interrupted the high-school transition process?”

Transition Recovery Services are documented with PWN

OSPI guides IEP teams to document a support plan for a post-21 student through Prior Written Notice (PWN), which is a way schools notify families about actions related to a special education program. The school is responsible to provide PWN to family participants after any IEP meeting.

TIP: Review the PWN carefully to ensure that the discussion, decisions, and action steps are accurate. Family members can submit amendments to a PWN.

The IEP document itself cannot be amended to include post-21 services because federal law supports the right to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for eligible students only through age 21.

What can families do?

  1. Reach out to the IEP case manager to discuss when to meet to discuss Recovery Services as part of a team meeting. If there is urgency, make that clear in a written request.
  2. Ask for documentation about progress made toward IEP annual and post-secondary goals during COVID-impacted school days. If there is no documentation, ask for a review of pre-pandemic data and an evaluation to determine present levels of performance.
  3. Share observations about what worked or didn’t work during remote or hybrid learning, and any missed opportunities caused by the pandemic. Ask for the school to formally document family and student concerns as part of the IEP team record.
  4. Procedural Safeguards include family rights to dispute resolution, including the right to file a formal complaint when there is reason to suspect a special education student’s rights were violated.

What if my student’s Transition Plan wasn’t fully formed?

An IEP can include transition planning any time the student, family, or teachers decide that life planning needs to be considered as an aspect of IEP services. The IEP Transition Plan aligns with a student’s High School and Beyond Plan, which Washington requires to begin before a student leaves Middle School. Therefore, some IEPs include a transition plan by about age 14.

Federal law (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act/IDEA) requires an IEP to include a Transition Plan by age 16. Although students aren’t required to participate, schools are required to invite students to participate in IEP meetings once transition is part of the program. PAVE provides an article to encourage youth participation on the team.

If the Transition Plan didn’t get built in a timely way due to the pandemic, IEP teams can begin that process and then consider whether Transition Recovery Services are warranted.

How are graduation requirements impacted by COVID?

On March 2, 2021, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law HB 1121, which allows for individual students to waive credit or testing requirements if their ability to complete them was disrupted by the pandemic. Temporary waivers were granted in 2020, and the new law gives the State Board of Education (SBE) permanent authority to grant school districts emergency waivers for cohorts of graduating seniors into the future. Schools are expected to help students meet requirements before falling back on the emergency waiver as a last resort.

To meet graduation requirements in Washington State, students choose from Graduation Pathways. For a student receiving special education services, the IEP team (including student and family) determines which pathway a student will follow and the target graduation date.

All students have the right to participate in Commencement

Students with disabilities have the right to participate in commencement ceremonies with same-age peers regardless of when they complete requirements for a diploma: See information about Kevin’s Law.

MIC3-School Issues Covered by the Interstate Compact

This resource gives you details about situations covered by the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (“MIC3”).  Use it to help you decide if you can apply the Compact to resolve a school issue for your child. Then you can follow the Step-by-Step Checklist to use the Compact for your child’s situation.

Transferring records, enrollment, immunizations

The Compact allows military parents to hand-carry “unofficial” (temporary) school records from the sending school to give to the receiving school:

  • Unofficial records need to include attendance records, academic information, and grade placement
  • The sending school can charge you a reasonable fee for making the copies.
  • The receiving school must use the unofficial records for your child’s enrollment.
  • It’s the receiving school’s responsibility to immediately ask for an official set of records (transcript) from the sending school. The sending school must send out the official records within 10 days.
  • Immunizations (shots to protect against certain diseases): If your child hasn’t already had the shots the receiving school requires, you have 30 days to get the shots after the date of enrollment.
  • If your child needs a series of shots to be immunized, he or she must get the first shot in the series within the 30 days.

 Kindergarten or First Grade Starting Ages

If your child was enrolled and already attending Kindergarten in her old school, the new school must let her go to Kindergarten even if the age requirement is different.

  • If your child should be starting first grade, the Compact says that if your child completed the previous grade in the sending school (including Kindergarten) they can enroll in the next grade at the receiving school, even if the age requirements are different.
  • If you are enrolling your child during the school year, they can enter the school in the grade they were in at the sending school.

Additional information to give to the school:

  • Make sure the letter or transcript from the sending school shows your child’s attendance in Kindergarten, if the issue is about Kindergarten eligibility.

Special Education, Accommodations and Modifications

Parent Centers can help when you have an issue with your child’s IEP, Section 504 Plan, etc.  Parent Centers are federally-funded organizations in each State, District of Columbia, and US Territories. They work with families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, birth to 26. They will work with you, so you can resolve issues relating to your child’s disabilities. Parent Centers can help you whether your child attends a public school or a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school.

The Compact says that the receiving school shall follow the laws that apply to students getting special education services or students that have accommodations and modifications. These are federal laws that apply to every State and in Washington, DC.

This means that the receiving school follows your child’s current IEP, Section 504 or ADA Title II Plan. For an IEP, comparable (similar) services and supports are provided; for Section 504 or ADA Title II plans, reasonable accommodations or modifications are made to provide your child with equal access to education. In either case, the receiving school can evaluate your child later to see if their IEP, 504 or Title II Plan is still an appropriate placement for your child.

Additional information to give the school:

  • If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), or a Section 504 or ADA Title II plan, keep paper copies of the plan or program, service agreements, evaluations and progress reports. Keep records from non-school sources as well. Give them to the receiving school with the other school records.

Repeating courses

Under the Compact, receiving schools have flexibility to waive (not apply to your child) requirements for specific classes or courses needed for placement in the receiving school’s courses or programs.

Additional information to give the school:

  • Show that the class or classes your child took at the sending school cover the same, or very similar material as the one the receiving school wants them to take.

Example: The receiving school requires a Civics class in 7th grade. Your child took a class called “Federal, State and Local Government” in 6th grade at the sending school. Your child’s academic records should show that he or she took the 6th grade class. If more information is needed, the sending school could send information about the class to the receiving school about what material was covered in the 6th grade course.

You could contact the sending school directly or ask your School Liaison for help.

 Getting the right program or course placement 

Both Parent Centers and School Liaisons may be helpful with this concern.

  • Under the Compact, after enrollment, the receiving school must place your child in the appropriate courses or programs based on the courses and programs they were in at the sending school.
  • If the receiving school doesn’t have such a course or program, but another school in the same District does, the receiving school can let your child attend classes or programs where they are available.
  • The receiving school can evaluate your child later to see if they are eligible for the receiving school’s classes or programs, under the receiving school’s rules about eligibility.

Graduation Requirements (also see “Repeating Courses”)

  • The Compact says the receiving school shall waive (not apply to your child) specific courses needed for graduation if your child has satisfactorily completed similar coursework in another school district. If the receiving school doesn’t waive the requirement, they must give a “reasonable justification for denial”.

Additional information to give the school:

  • Show that the class or classes your child took at the sending school cover the same, or very similar material as the one the receiving school wants them to take.

Example: The receiving school requires three mathematics classes for graduation. At the sending school your child passed courses in Algebra, Geometry, and Everyday Math. The receiving school doesn’t offer Everyday Math but does offer a course called Applied Mathematics. Provide a comparison of the course descriptions from both the sending and receiving schools to show that your child has taken equivalent coursework. If more information is needed, the sending school could send information about the class to the receiving school about what material was covered.

You could contact the sending school directly or ask your School Liaison for help.

  • If your child already qualified to graduate from the sending school (all required coursework completed satisfactorily), and the receiving school does NOT waive their own required coursework, the receiving school must give him or her an “alternative means” of getting the required coursework so your child can graduate on time.
  • If your child transfers to the receiving school at the beginning of or during his or her Senior year, and even after all alternatives have been looked at, your child is still not eligible to graduate from the receiving school; then, if he or she is eligible to graduate from the sending school, the receiving school and sending school shall make sure your child gets a diploma from the sending school.
  • “Exit” exams: the receiving state shall accept exams from the sending state that are required for graduation. These include end-of-course exams, national norm-referenced achievement tests, and alternative testing, in place of testing requirements for graduation in the sending state.

If your child is transferring to the receiving school in his or her senior year, and the receiving school can’t accept the exams from the sending school, then the receiving school must arrange for your child to get their diploma from the sending school.

Extra-curricular Activities

  • States and local schools can be flexible so military children can be in sports and extracurricular activities, even if the child can’t meet an application deadline.
  • Your child will still have to meet the eligibility standards for the activity, such as tryouts for sports or a music program.

Deployment

  • Under the Compact, schools can allow excused absences for a child whose military parent is called to duty for, is on leave from, or just returned from deployment to a combat zone or combat support posting.
  • It’s entirely up to the school administration whether to allow this or not
  • The school can limit the number or length of the excused absences to make sure your child doesn’t miss too much school.

Your child is or will be living with another family member, non-custodial parent, or guardian (Family Care Plan)

Under the Compact, a military child can keep going to the school in the school or district they have been attending, even if the person they are living with is in a different school district.

  • The school district can’t charge local tuition under these circumstances
  • The person taking care of your child is responsible for transportation (not the school or district).

Additional information to give the school:

  • Copy of your Family Care Plan, and if necessary, any special Powers of Attorney or custody orders, if not given to the school earlier.

Additional help and information:

Information about Compact officials in your state and their roles (click on a state in the interactive Map)

PDF with active links showing steps to resolve issues above the individual school level

Contact form to request help with a school issue 

Find Compact legislation in your state

MIC3 Step-by-Step Checklist-Resolve School Issues with the Interstate Compact

This resource shows you specific steps to take to resolve school issues for your child, using the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.  It gives you contact information for people who can help you for different situations covered by the Compact.  To help you decide if your child’s situation is covered by the Compact, use MIC3-School Issues Covered by the Interstate Compact.

The Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children (“the Compact”) is an agreement among all 50 States and the District of Columbia to address certain school transition issues for military children consistently, from State to State. It’s often known by the acronym MIC3 (“mick-three”) after the commission responsible for designing it and getting it passed as legislation.

Your child is covered under the Compact if he or she is a school-aged child enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, when their parent is a:

  • Active duty member of the uniformed services, including members of the National Guard and Reserve on active duty orders (Title 10)
  • Member or veteran who are medically discharged or retired for one year
  • Member who died on active duty, for a period of one year after death
  • Uniformed member of the Commissioned Corps of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and United States Public Health Services (USPHS)

General Information: What the Compact helps with:

  1. Transferring school records and getting your child enrolled; Immunizations
  2. Kindergarten and First Grade starting ages
  3. Special Education, Accommodations and Modifications
  4. Having to repeat courses; Getting the right program or course placement
  5. Graduation requirements
  6. Extra-curricular activities such as being in a club or playing sports
  7. Deployment
  8. Your child is or will be living with another family member or guardian (Family Care Plan)

Your responsibilities:

Basic documents package:

  • Official military orders
  • Family care plan or proof of guardianship if the child lives with a legal guardian
  • Shot record (immunizations)
  • Letter or transcript from the sending school showing attendance, academic information and grade placement
  • Birth certificate

Keep paper copies of all educational records from each school. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), or a Section 504 or ADA Title II plan, keep paper copies of the plan or program, service agreements, evaluations and progress reports. Keep records from non-school sources too.

Step-by-Step Suggestions for Using the Compact:

Step 1: Try to resolve the issue at the school level.  You might wish to do this on your own, or you can ask for help from your Parent Center ( for issues about special education, supports and services, Section 504 or ADA Title II Plan) or your School Liaison.

  • Contact your child’s school principal or other top-level school administrator
  • Keep a written record of what happens. To have a record, either contact by email, or if you speak to them in person or by phone, send a follow-up email or letter (keep a copy of the letter).
  • When you get a response, keep the response email or letter.
  • Keep all emails or letters about this issue in the folder or binder where you keep all your child’s school records and information.

You can usually find email information on your child’s school or district website, or you can call the school’s front office.

What you might put in the letter or email:

  • Describe the issue
  • State that your child is covered by the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children
  • Describe what you have already done (provided documents, called the school, etc.)
  • Ask the school to resolve the issue
  • Ask for a response by email or by letter
  • You may wish to include, or attach:
  • A copy of or link to the Compact rules document
  • Copies of your child’s basic document package and any additional information needed

Step 2: If the issue is not fixed by the school’s principal or top administrator, contact either your School Liaison or Parent Center (depending on the issue) for help. They are familiar with the process and can connect with the most useful staff to resolve your child’s situation.

 For most issues, contact your School Liaison:

School Liaisons connect students and families with information, resources and people. They are the point of contact between an installation’s military families and local schools and school districts. They are experts in the complications that can come up when a family PCS-s to a new duty station.

 For Special Education, Accommodations and Modifications, contact your Parent Center (can also be helpful for Program and Course Placement).

Parent Centers are federally-funded organizations in each State, District of Columbia, and US Territories. They work with families of infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities, birth to 26. They will work with you, so you can resolve issues relating to your child’s disabilities. Parent Centers can help you whether your child attends a public school or a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) school.

More assistance and information:

Contact form to request help with a school issue 

Find Compact legislation in your state

Information about Compact officials in your state and their roles (click on a state in the interactive Map)

PDF with active links showing steps to resolve issues above the individual school level

Map Your Future with Person-Centered Planning

A Brief Overview  

  • Person-Centered Planning (PCP) is a method for helping a person map out a future with intention and support.
  • PAVE staff member Michele Lehosky, PCP facilitator, provided a training at PAVE’s Tools 4 Success conference in March 2020. Here’s a YouTube video from that virtual conference: Build Your Dream Map.
  • Read on for more information about what Person-Centered Planning is like.

Full Article  

Everyone dreams about what they might do or become. Individuals with disabilities might need additional support to design the plans, set the goals and recruit help. The Person-Centered Planning (PCP) process is a tool that works like a Global Positioning System (GPS) to help a person figure out where they are starting and how to navigate to a planned destination.   

A PCP session is a gathering that can happen in a specific physical location, such as a school or a community center, or in a virtual space online. The people who get together might include family members, friends, teachers, vocational specialists, coaches—anyone who might help brainstorm ways to plan an enriched, full life for a person of honor.

The first step is to celebrate the gifts, talents, and dreams of the person. Then the group develops action steps to help that person move closer to their dreams and goals.  

Throughout the gathering, the attendees listen, ask questions, and draw pictures or write down words that contribute to the process. Respect for the person’s goals and wishes is a priority, and participants withhold judgment to honor the individual completely.  

Person-Centered Planning explores all areas of a person’s life. All people experience various times in their lives that are transitions. High-school graduation is a major example. Job changes, moving to a new home, entering or leaving a relationship: Those transitions happen for individuals with and without disabilities.

Individuals with disabilities have some additional transitions. For example, when a person leaves the special education system of public education at graduation or after age 21, there is a change in disability protections. A student receiving special education is protected by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In adult life, the right to accommodations and non-discrimination is protected solely by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504) and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

There are specific transitions that occur for individuals who qualify for support from the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), which in Washington is part of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). Employment and workforce training programs often are part of the transition from high school into what happens next.

During major life transitions, many service agencies focus on a person’s inabilities or deficits.  Person-Centered Planning, on the other hand, focuses on what’s positive and possible, based on the dreams and goals of the individual.

A PCP session includes a set of maps where information is collected in words and pictures. Here are some examples:

People in my Life     

This map names important people and their roles in concentric circles. These are people that the individual trusts for help and support and may include paid and unpaid supporters. Those who are closest to the person are in the circles closest to the center of the map.

Who am I?  My Story, My History    

This map is built during the session to describe the person’s story from birth up until the gathering. This map reflects what is most important to the individual. The facilitator might ask:

  • What parts of your life are important for people to know?   
  • What are some stories of your life that would be helpful for a coworker or a friend to know? 
  • Are you a sibling? A spouse? A parent?
  • How old are you? 
  • What activities do you participate in? 
  • Have you had any jobs?
  • Where do you live? Go to school?  
  • Do you have a medical concern that someone spending time with you might need to know about? 

 Likes and Dislikes  

The “Likes” list includes favorites, things that make the person happy. Favorite colors, foods, activities, places, people are listed. 

The “Dislikes” list includes the opposite of all those things and might also list triggers (bright lights, loud noises, angry voices, bullies) or other sensitivities.

What Works/ Doesn’t work 

The first part of this map asks: When learning a new activity or skill, what are steps and learning tools or activities that work for you? Answers might look like these examples: frequent breaks, accommodations, a written schedule, a list of duties, instructions in larger print, a preferred time of day to start something…. 

The second part asks: When learning a new activity or skill what activities do not work for you? Answers might resemble these examples:  waiting in line, too many instructions, too many people barking out orders, standing or sitting for too long, verbal instructions, unclear expectations….  

Gifts, Talents and Strengths  

This map asks several questions: 

  • What are you good at?
  • What can you do that is easy for you? 
  • What are your best qualities? 
  • What do people like about you?   

Examples for answers:  best smile, cleaning, giving, caring, natural dancer, very social, great with computers, good with numbers, great at sports, good listener, good with animals, etc.   

Dreams /Nightmares 

The My Dreams map asks: Where you would like to see yourself in a few years?  Follow-up questions:

  • What will you be doing?
  • What would your dream job be?  
  • Where are you living? 
  • Do you live on your own or with family or a roommate?  
  • How are you keeping in touch with your friends?   
  • What is an action you can take to move toward your dream or goals?    

The Nightmare Map asks:  What do you want to avoid?  Follow-up questions might include this one: Where do you not want to be in a few years? This is not to make the person feel bad but to make an out-loud statement about what the person doesn’t want to happen. This can include actions or thoughts that someone wants to avoid.  

Needs 

The Needs map asks:  What do you need help with to avoid the nightmare?  A follow up question might include: What areas do you need support with? Answers might look like these examples: budgeting money, learning to drive, training to ride the bus, cooking lessons, looking for a job. The goal is to recruit support to help the person stay away from the nightmare and work toward the dream.   

Action Steps  

A map that show Action Steps includes the specific help that will assist the individual in moving toward the dream. This chart typically details what needs to be done, who will do it, and by when. 

Example:    

Goal: To Write a Resume     
Who: Michele 
What: Call Mark to ask for help.  
By When: Next Monday, April 6, 2020 

This process involves many support people in the person’s life and identifies, in a self-directed way, areas where help is needed to meet personal goals. The gathering involves the important people in someone’s life because they can help through the process and step up to offer support for the action steps. 

How to get a Person-Centered Plan  

Here are places that might help you find a PCP facilitator in your area:  

  • Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) 
  • Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR)
  • School District 

If you live in Pierce County, Wash., PAVE offers PCP facilitation. Please fill out a Helpline Request Form at wapave.org and ask for PCP support. One of our coordinators will contact you.  

Here are a few additional places to seek information about Person-Centered Planning:  

Inclusion.com: All My Life’s a Circle  

Inclusion.com: The Path Method 

Video from PAVE, Tools 4 Success  

Informing Families.org  

Washington’s 2019 Law Adjusts Graduation Requirements

The Washington State Legislature passed a law in 2019 that changes graduation requirements and may impact students who receive special education services. House Bill (HB) 1599 changes the rules about which tests students must pass in order to graduate and how they can earn a diploma.  

The new law removes the direct link between statewide assessments and graduation requirements by discontinuing the Certificate of Academic Achievement (CAA) after the graduating class of 2019 and the Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) after the graduating class of 2021.

Students in the class of 2020 and beyond will need to demonstrate career and college readiness through one of eight graduation pathway options that align with the High School and Beyond Plan, a requirement for all Washington students. The High School and Beyond Plan (HSBP) is expanded by the new law, and districts will be required to provide an electronic HSBP platform available to students beginning in 2020–21.

After-high-school plans are a critical aspect of the Transition Plan written into a student’s individualized Education Program (IEP) by age 16, and the expansion of the HSBP provides for improved alignment between these future-planning tools.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the agency responsible for oversight of all public schools and non-public agencies in Washington State. OSPI maintains a website page with information about graduation requirements. Visit OSPI’s Graduation Requirements page for compete and updated material. The page includes a link to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

This article provides a brief overview of the new requirements, and parents can take this list to an IEP meeting to ask questions and create a plan to ensure graduation success. For more general information about planning for the transition from high school, take a look at a Recorded Webinar on PAVE’s website and/or read an article called Tips to Make a Well-Informed Transition into Life After High School.

Class of 2019, Take Note!

Some students in the Classes of 2014 through 2019 may be eligible to have their assessment graduation requirements waived in English language arts (ELA), math, or both. The Expedited Assessment Appeals Waiver requires that the student show that he/she has the skills and knowledge to meet high school standards and possesses the skills necessary to successfully achieve college or career goals established in the High School and Beyond Plan.

Students may use one of the following to meet the assessment graduation requirements:

  • Graduation standard on Smarter Balanced or WA-AIM (ELA and math)
  • Passing a dual credit course
  • Passing a Bridge to College course
  • ACT or SAT score
  • Advanced Placement score
  • Passing Locally Administered Assessment (COE-Local)
  • Grades Comparison
  • CIA cut-score on Smarter Balanced (“L2 Basic”) (for some students with disabilities)
  • Locally Developed Assessment (LDA) (for some students with disabilities)
  • Off-grade assessment (for some students with disabilities)
  • Expedited Assessment Appeals Waiver

Further information about the waiver is provided in an OSPI Bulletin.

Class of 2020: What will change?

Students will need to demonstrate readiness for post-secondary career or college via one or more pathways. Students in the Class of 2020 will also have access to a waiver. The pathways available to the Class of 2020 are:

  • Graduation standard on Smarter Balanced or WA-AIM (ELA and math)
  • Dual credit
  • Bridge to College
  • C+ in AP, IB, or Cambridge class or achieving certain score on AP, IB, or Cambridge tests
  • ACT or SAT score
  • Also, if completed during the 2018-19 school year: Locally Administered Assessment (COE-Local) This option is not available in 2019-20.

Students must demonstrate skills via a pathway for ELA and math. The above options can be used interchangeably to meet both requirements.

Tips to Make a Well-Informed Transition into Life After High School

Tips to Make a Well-Informed Transition into Life After High School

A Brief Overview

  • Students with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) need to have a Transition Plan written into the IEP by the school year when they turn 16, but it’s never too soon to start talking, planning and envisioning the future.
  • Students can stay in school until they are 21—an option for youth who need more time to learn and prepare for adulthood. The IEP team determines a projected graduation date and writes this date into the IEP document.
  • Transition Services in the IEP can support a High School and Beyond Plan, Washington State’s toolkit that is a state requirement for all students to get ready for next steps. Various state agencies serving transition-age youth provide a comprehensive guidebook that describes how to align the HSBP with IEP Transition Planning. Included are career-planning tools and linkages to current information about graduation pathways, which changed in 2019 when the Washington State Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1599.
  • In Washington, a student takes charge of educational programming at 18 unless other arrangements are designed. Read on for more details.
  • See our companion articles about Student-Led IEP meetings and a new option for pre-employment support through the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS).

Full Article

Senior year is loaded with projects, planning and a big push to finish requirements and figure out what happens next. For students with special needs, there can be a few extra steps, and it’s never too soon to start thinking and planning for this important transition.

Here are some practical tips and a range of resources to help youth and families make well-informed decisions.

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) must include a Transition Plan with individualized Transition Services by the school year in which a student turns 16. Best practice is to start planning for this in seventh or eighth grade, as outlined in the state-required High School and Beyond Plan. If you are starting later than that, don’t worry! Get started now, and your efforts will certainly reap benefits into the future.

When a Transition Plan is added to an IEP, consider that this life-after-high-school planning now focuses the IEP on post-secondary goals and outcomes. Helping the student engage with the IEP team in conversation around these three questions can help direct planning and school supports that will help the student reach the written Transition Plan Goals:  

  1. Where am I now? (strengths, interests, capacities—the Present Levels of Performance in the IEP)
  2. Where do I want to go? (aspirations, dreams, expectations—Transition Plan Goals in the IEP)
  3. How do I get there? (transition services, courses, activities, supports, service linkages, community connections, help to overcome barriers—Annual Goals, Accommodations and other provisions included in the IEP)

The graduation standards for a student eligible for special education are the same as for all other students. In our state, a district’s flexibility in determining how a student fulfills those requirements comes from the Washington Administrative Code (WAC Section 180-51-115). Each school district will have its own policy for implementing these state rules, and you can request a copy of your district’s policy. If there is any confusion, you can encourage the school to consult the district special education office for guidance.

In short, the student’s IEP team determines how the student will meet graduation requirements and how long she/he will stay in school.

A student doesn’t have to graduate at the end of a traditional senior year. A student remains eligible for special education until graduation requirements are met and the student has earned a high school diploma (WAC Section 392-172A-02000). However, a school does not have to hold back credits for a student to remain eligible. The student’s IEP team determines the student’s graduation plan, including the planned graduation date. The student could potentially meet all graduation requirements, but if the IEP team has determined that the student needs further schooling to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), then the student has a right to stay in school to age 21.

In the meantime, a student can participate in commencement ceremonies at the end of a traditional senior year, with peers, under a Washington provision called Kevin’s Law. Students and families should communicate with a special education teacher, case manager or school counselor to ensure that all information about graduation and senior year events is clearly understood and shared. Plan early for needed accommodations at senior year events.

When assessing the Transition Plan in the IEP you can ask these questions:

  • Is the plan age appropriate?
  • Is information provided by more than one source?
  • Do the post-secondary goals consider all areas of life after high school, including employment, further education, independent living and community engagement?
  • Are the goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely?
  • Is a target graduation date included in the IEP?

In Washington State, the Office of Superintendent for Public Instruction (OSPI) has provided a guidance document for all students called the High School and Beyond Plan. You can access that plan and the state’s graduation requirements on OSPI’s Website.

For Special Education students, the plan is not replaced but can be further supported by the plan that includes Transition Services in the IEP. Each school district determines the precise guidelines for students to meet the requirements of the High School and Beyond Plan, and some schools use tools with different names. Becoming familiar with the state-recommended format and then comparing this tool to your school’s requirements and the student’s specific IEP programming is a good way to participate in making sure your student has a robust plan.

A student takes charge of educational planning and programming at the Age of Majority, which is 18 in Washington. According to the Washington Administrative Code (WAC Section 392-172A-03090), “Beginning not later than one year before the student reaches the age of 18, the IEP must include a statement that the student has been informed of the student’s rights under the act, if any, that will transfer to the student on reaching the age of majority.”

Parents have a few options if they wish to continue to have rights to participate in their child’s education:

  1. Guardianship (org)
  2. Power of Attorney (Washington State Legislature)
  3. The student can choose to include “other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student” on the IEP team (WAC Section 392-172A-03095).
  4. Another option is supported decision-making. Informing Families has a helpful tool for designing this voluntary, informal plan.

Families will want to clarify what specific roles and powers parents will retain under the arrangement designed by your family and the school. The special services office at your school may be able to help with this; without legal guardianship or Power of Attorney your student will need to sign consent for you to attend meetings and participate in decision-making.

Regardless of the arrangement, families will want to have some conversations to help a student envision a future and start to see how to get there. A variety of tools are available, including these:

For youth who struggle with behavioral health challenges, transitions can trigger some additional challenges. These resources may provide some helpful tips:

Another resource that might help with planning is the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR). Each school is assigned a DVR counselor to assist with pre-employment training. You can look up the name and phone number for your school’s DVR counselor online through a link provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. A new option for youth and families to receive pre-employment counseling is from a program called Foundational Community Supports. Check out PAVE’s companion article about this program.

Good luck with your planning! If you need more specific support unique to your situation, get help from one of our Parent Training and Information (PTI) resource coordinators by filling out a Help Request Form or by calling 1-800-572-7368.

Open Doors for Multicultural Families provides a Transition Resource Guide available in 10 languages