Click one of the letters above to advance the page to terms beginning with that letter.


504 Plan

A 504 plan spells out the modifications and accommodations that will be needed for students with disabilities to have an opportunity perform at the same level as their peers, and might include such things as wheelchair ramps, un-timed tests, electronically formatted textbooks, preferential seating, digital recorder or laptop for taking notes.

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Action plan

Individualized set of steps to achieve the student's postsecondary vision, including skills to be developed, activities in which to participate, and supports to be provided, as well as timelines for task completion.

Adult human services agencies

State agencies that receive state and federal funding to assess, coordinate, and monitor support services for eligible individuals with disabilities, ages 18+, once they have exited special education.

Age of Majority

The moment when a minor legally becomes an adult and has control over his or her own decisions and actions. In Massachusetts, unless an individual is deemed "incompetent", a minor becomes an adult at age 18.

Age-appropriate transition assessment

Ongoing process of collecting data on the individual's needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future work, educational, living, and personal and social environments. Age-appropriate transition assessment provides information to develop practical, achievable, and measurable postsecondary goals, and assists in the identification of transition services and supports to help the student reach those goals.

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Chapter 688 referral

Chapter 688 is a Massachusetts law that was developed in partnership with parents, advocates, and educators to address the needs of young adults who will lose their entitlement to special education services upon graduation or at age 22. It provides a two-year planning process for young adults with severe disabilities who meet the eligibility criteria from one of the main human services agencies (Department of Developmental Services, Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Department of Mental Health, Mass Commission for the Blind, Mass Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Department of Public Health, Department of Children & Families).

Community-based service provider

Agency which is typically contracted by state human services agencies to promote a productive, safe, and independent lifestyle for individuals with disabilities transitioning from school to adult life. For example, a rehabilitation provider is a community agency that provides services and supports for individuals seeking employment.

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Disability-related needs

Disability-related skills that require IEP goals and/or related services as needed for the student to achieve his/her post-secondary vision (see TPF).

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Formal guardianship process

Guardianship is a protective legal process where the Massachusetts court may appoint a person or agency, called a guardian, to make personal decisions on behalf of another person, referred to as the "incapacitated person." The process involves completing an application to petition the court for guardianship. Once the petition is filed, a notice is sent to the person for whom guardianship is sought. The third step is a hearing with a judge who will determine (a) whether or not the person needs a guardian and (b) who the guardian should be.

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Guardianship options

Numerous guardianship alternatives exist that offer monitoring and assistance but do not require that individuals define themselves as "incapacitated." These discrete guardianship options can be grouped into four categories: financial support, educational support, vocational support, and/or daily living support. Considering these options allows individuals to hold on to more of their rights because guardianship decisions are based on specific, focused needs of the individual.

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High school graduation requirements

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education stipulates that in order to graduate from high school, all students who are educated with Massachusetts public funds, including students with disabilities, are required to earn a High School Competency Determination in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE), as well as meet all local graduation requirements (

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Written document that is developed for each public school child who is determined eligible to receive special education services. The IEP is created through a team effort and reviewed at least once a year.

IEP meeting invitation

An invitation offered to parents and/or a student to participate in a meeting to develop an individualized education plan. Specifically, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 provides that the public agency must include the child with a disability at the IEP meeting "whenever appropriate," and requires that the child be invited to attend the meeting "if the purpose of the meeting will be the consideration of the postsecondary goals for the child and the transition services needed to assist the child in reaching those goals" [§300.320(b)].

Individual Education Program

Written document that is developed for each public school child who is determined eligible to receive special education services. The IEP is created through a team effort and reviewed at least once a year.

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Measurable postsecondary goal

A statement based on an age-appropriate transition assessment that articulates what the student would specifically like to achieve after high school, taking into account the student’s strengths, needs, preferences, and interests.

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Person-centered planning

A process designed to assist someone to identify their dreams and aspirations, to set short-term and long-term goals to pursue their dreams, and to identify available support and resources.

Postsecondary vision

Based on individual strengths, needs, preferences, and interests and developed in collaboration with family members and others, student's vision helps identify goals for postsecondary training, employment, and/or adult living.

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Self-determination skills

Skills required to make personal choices, learn to effectively solve problems, and take control over and responsibility for one's life.

Summary of performance

Document provided by the school district detailing the student's academic achievement, functional performance, and postsecondary goals. Created when the student's special education eligibility terminates, either due to graduation or exceeding the age of eligibility.

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Transfer of Parental Rights

IDEA gives to states the authority to elect to transfer educational decision-making rights to students at the age of majority. In Massachusetts, the transfer of rights occurs at the age of majority (18). Beginning at least one year before a student reaches 18, the team must include a statement that the student has been informed of any rights that will transfer to him or her upon reaching 18.

Transition Assessment

Transition assessment is an ongoing process of collecting data on the individual individual's s needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational, living and personal and social environments. It can also be viewed as a set of formal/informal data-collection tools that evaluate a student's strengths, needs, preferences, and interests.

Transition Planning Form (TPF)

Document from Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that is to be included with a student's IEP. The TPF outlines the student's post-secondary vision, disability-related needs, and an action plan that includes steps to address instruction, employment, and community experiences and postschool adult living.

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Written consent: Obtaining written consent for outside agencies to attend IEP meeting

At times, school staff may want to include a member of a human services and/or community-based agency as part of an IEP meeting that will include planning for transition and postsecondary goals. Written consent from the parent or adult student is required for a representative from an agency to attend.

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