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Transition Planning Taxonomy

Beginning in the 1990s, transition practices research has illustrated that post-school outcomes of students with disabilities improve when educators, families, students, and community members and organizations work together to implement a broad perspective of transition planning, more appropriately referred to as transition-focused education. In general, this concept of transition-focused education represents the perspective that “transition planning” is the fundamental basis of education that guides development of students’ educational programs, rather than an “add-on” activity for students with disabilities when they turn age 14 or 16. The impact of transition-focused education is greatly enhanced when service systems and programs connect and support the implementation and application of such learning.

Transition-focused education is directed toward adult outcomes and consists of academic, career, and extracurricular instruction and activities, delivered through a variety of instructional and transition approaches, and responsive to the local context and students’ learning and support needs.

This framework of transition-focused education provides a structure for educational planning that is outcome-oriented and promotes greater involvement and ownership in the decision-making process by key stakeholders, particularly students and their families.

The Taxonomy for Transition Programming provides concrete practices—identified from effective programs—for implementing transition-focused education. Pepnet 2 offered short webinars that address each taxonomy category; to access these, go to the "Webinars" page.

Taxonomy for Transition Programming

Student-Focused Planning, Student Development, Interagency Collaboration, Program Structures, Family Involvement

  • Student-focused planning = the process for developing a student’s IEP
  • Student development = the “stuff” of the educational program
  • Interagency collaboration = the context for identifying and meeting student and family needs
  • Family involvement  = thread that runs throughout transition education and services – provides relevance
  • Program structures  = provide the infrastructure that facilitates implementation of effective transition education and services 


Kohler, P. D. (1996).  Taxonomy for Transition Programming.  Champaign:  University of Illinois.

View the full "Taxonomy for Transition Programming" document.