A transition coordinator is provided by every public school offering education to special needs students and may be found in many private schools as well. The transition coordinator is an integral part of a high school student’s Individualized Educational Plan development and is required by federal law to follow every special needs student from at least the age of 16 and onto the end of high school. The most basic job description for a transition coordinator is that he or she helps special needs students transition effectively from high school to college or to a career. However, these individuals actually have dozens of job responsibilities that allow them to provide expert care, planning and evaluating for special education students and their families.
A study recently performed in Virginia interviewed 14 people who worked as transition coordinators to determine exactly what they saw as their job descriptions. These individuals came up with over 150 different jobs that they regularly did to assist special needs high school students, their families, the community, and the school. They connect with colleges, vocational schools and other businesses and public services around the community to help these students follow a career path that is right for them while having the community services that they will need in place before they leave high school. Coordinators send referrals, provide students with vocational assessments, provide career counseling, help students fill out college application forms and financial aid forms, coordinate and find assistive technology and find job openings all while keeping up-to-date with applicable federal and state laws.
For many students, a transition coordinator may be needed long before the student turns 16. Many middle school students can benefit from some early interventions and assessments. Plus, this early coordination can greatly set parents’ minds at ease. The coordinator can let parents know what they can do to make the transition to adulthood easier for their children and can also clue them into a variety of community services that can help their special needs children.