Indicator 13 | Secondary Transition

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Photo of a young black woman, her chin resting on a globe.Updated, April 2013

Life is full of transitions, and one of the more remarkable ones occurs when we get ready to leave high school and go out in the world as young adults. When the student has a disability, it’s especially helpful to plan ahead for that transition. In fact, IDEA requires it. The data collected under Indicator 13 targets this turning point in life and the extent to which youth with disabilities have IEPs that establish postsecondary goals and include transition services designed to prepare them to meet those goals.

Indicator 13 reads (brace yourself!):


Percent of youth with IEPs aged 16 and above with an IEP that includes appropriate measurable postsecondary goals that are annually updated and based upon an age appropriate transition assessment, transition services, including courses of study, that will reasonably enable the student to meet those postsecondary goals, and annual IEP goals related to the student’s transition services needs.

There also must be evidence that the student was invited to the IEP Team meeting where transition services are to be discussed and evidence that, if appropriate, a representative of any participating agency was invited to the IEP Team meeting with the prior consent of the parent or student who has reached the age of majority. [20 U.S.C. 1416(a)(3)(B)]


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Resources to Support Data Gathering for Indicator 13

Guidance documents on Indicator 13.

And visit NSTTAC, the expert.
The National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC) offers a number of helpful resources focused on indicator 13, including:

___a checklist for Indicator 13 that allows schools, districts and states to determine if students’ IEPs are in compliance with indicator 13 and track data on each postsecondary goal area to help plan professional development and program change;

___training materials including definitions of all the terms used in the indicator 13 checklist.

Find NSTTAC’s materials on Indicator 13 at:

How are we doing?
What’s the current status on preparing youth with disabilities, via their IEPs, for transition to adulthood? What are the data telling us? Read this summary from 2011.

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Resources to Support the Secondary Transition of Youth with Disabilities

What are transition goals in the IEP?
NICHCY explains the type of information that must be included in the IEPs of youth with disabilities of transition age.

All about transition goals in the IEP.
NICHCY offers an entire suite on Transition to Adulthood, which includes nine separate webpages. There’s even one called “Transition Goals in the IEP.” Enter the suite at:

Want to learn more about postschool outcomes?
Is your state trying to develop strategies for collecting and using data to improve secondary, transition, and postsecondary outcomes for youth with disabilities? Does your state need technical assistance to improve systems for post-school outcome data collection and use?  If you answered yes to either question you might want to contact the National Post School Outcomes Center.

Join a community of practice to discuss high-school exiting and postsecondary education. is a forum for exchanging strategies and ideas that will improve outcomes for children with disabilities.  One of the communities you can join is the “Exiting – Part B Community,” which discusses issues around transition, graduation, postsecondary education, employment, and post school outcomes.

Explore (and help youth explore) the options after high school.
The HEATH Resource Center Clearinghouse has information for students with disabilities on utilizing disability support services on college and university campuses, and accessing services at career-technical schools and other postsecondary training entities. HEATH has information on financial assistance, scholarships, and materials to help students with disabilities transition into college, university, career-technical schools, or other postsecondary programs.

Help students who are deaf or hearing impaired navigate secondary and postsecondary education.

What do states report as their transition policies?
A June 2010 policy brief from Project Forum, entitled “Preparation for Postsecondary Life for Students with Disabilities.”

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NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to