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What is Transition Planning?

The Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Early Intervention/Special Education Services
Secondary Transition Planning Guide for Individuals with Disabilities focuses on the movement of individuals
with disabilities from school to postsecondary outcomes. A major component of secondary transition planning
is that the sequential transition activities and services are person-centered and drive the Individual Education
Program (IEP). For students to successfully exit high school prepared for college, career, and community, early
planning is crucial. In Maryland, transition planning and the delivery of transition services begins during the
IEP year in which the student turns 14 years of age.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that the purpose of the legislation is “to ensure
that all children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education that emphasizes
special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further
employment and independent living.” The law stresses the need for educators, parents, and community
agencies to work together to support the student as he or she works toward postsecondary goals and
outcomes. Transition services must be provided to assist the student in the attainment of skills necessary to
reach his or her postsecondary goals.

IDEA 2004 defines transition services as a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that are:


  • designed to be within a results-oriented process, focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of an individual with a disability to facilitate their movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education; vocational education; integrated employment; continuing and adult education; adult services; independent living or community participation;

  • based on the individual's needs, taking into account their strengths, preferences, and interests; 

  • and; designed to include instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives and when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.

Requirements for the Maryland High School Diploma and the Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion

Maryland High School Diploma
(See COMAR 13A.03.02.09)



  • A Maryland High School Diploma shall be awarded to a student who:

a. Completes the enrollment, credit, and services requirements.
b. Local school systems may establish additional credit requirements or add endorsements to the 
diploma as incentive for students to meet locally established requirements beyond the minimums 
specified by the State.

For more information click here


Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion
(See COMAR 13A.03.02.09E)


  • The Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion shall be awarded only to students with disabilities who cannot meet the requirements for a diploma but who meet the following standards

a. The student is enrolled in an education program for at least 4 years beyond grade 8 or its age 
equivalent, and is determined by an IEP team, with the agreement of the parents of the
student with disabilities, to have developed appropriate skills for the individual to enter the 
world of work, act responsibly as a citizen, and enjoy a fulfilling life, including but not limited 

  • Gainful employment;

  •  Post-secondary education and training;

  •  Supported employment; and

  •  Other services that are integrated in the community; or

b. The student has been enrolled in an education program for 4 years beyond grade 8 or its age equivalent and

  • will have reached age 21 before the first day of the next school year.The Maryland Summary of Performance that describes the student's skills shall accompany the Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion.

  • The final decision to award a student with disabilities a Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion will not be made until after the beginning of the student's last year in high school.

A student with significant cognitive disability may not meet high school graduation requirements if a student:
a. Participates in an Alternative Assessment based on Alternative Academic Achievement Standards 
(AA-AAAS); and
b. Continues to receive instruction based on Alternative Academic Achievement Standards through 
high school.


If a student participates in a graduation ceremony prior to the completion of the student’s education program, at the ceremony the school system shall issue to the student a Certificate of Achievement or other similarly titled certificate in place of a diploma. (COMAR 13A.03.02.09E(3)

Maryland Summary of Performance (MSOP)

Maryland provides students with IEPs a Maryland Summary of Performance (MSOP) before they transition from school to post school activities. The MSOP is required under the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. In Maryland, this document is given to all students with IEPs before they exit with a Maryland High School Diploma or Maryland High School Certificate of Program Completion (See COMAR 13A.03.02.09E (2)).

Why is the Maryland Summary of Performance (MSOP) important?

The Maryland Summary of Performance provides exiting students with IEPs important information that they may use as they transition from school to postsecondary activities. These activities may include employment, postsecondary education, supported employment, or independent living provided by community rehabilitation providers. The MSOP will be generated as part of the student’s IEP, and 
the information that is gathered is based on input from the student, the family, and the IEP team.  


The MSOP may provide potential employers, postsecondary education institutions, and adult service provider’s meaningful information about the young adult’s skills, strengths, and any supports that he/she may need to be successful. There are four parts to the Maryland Summary of Performance. Each part is listed below.

Part 1- Background Information
Part 2- Student’s Postsecondary Goals
Part 3- Summary of Performance (Academic, Cognitive, and Functional Levels) Part 4- Recommendations in Meeting Postsecondary Goals.


Where can we get more information?

For more information on the Maryland Summary of Performance, click here:


Maryland State Adult Service Agencies

The following section describes four state agencies that may provide services or supports for eligible
individuals. Individuals must meet specific eligibility criteria for each agency. A brief summary of the four state
agencies and their eligibility criteria is provided below.


The Maryland Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS) is all about employment. If you want to work, DORS wants to help you! DORS helps high school students, college students, and students in other approved programs prepare for work. DORS also helps people with disabilities find employment. If you want to work and have a disability that makes it difficult for you to find or keep a job, DORS may be able to help you.
DORS offers two specific programs to help youth with documented disabilities prepare for employment:

1. Pre-Employment Transition Services for students at least 14 years old, in at least high school, and no more than 21 years old. For more information click here:

2. Vocational Rehabilitation Service for adults and students beginning as early as one’s next-to last year of high school.

DORS has transition counselors assigned to every public high school in Maryland and works specifically with students who have significant disabilities to prepare them for employment. DORS transition counselors work with eligible students during their last two years of school to both provide and arrange for services (such as career counseling and decision making, assistive technology, job preparation, post-secondary education assistance, job placement services, and job
coaching services) to assist with transition planning to help ensure a smooth transition from school to post-secondary education or employment.

Division of Rehabilitation Services (DORS)

What does DORS do?

Who can receive DORS services?

Pre-Employment Transition Services: High school students, college students, and students in other approved educational programs qualify to receive Pre-Employment Transition Services.

Vocational Rehabilitation Services: One must apply and be found eligible for Vocational Rehabilitation services. High school students in the next-to-last year of high and out-of-school youth may be eligible for additional Vocational
Rehabilitation services beyond Pre-Employment Transition Services. There may be a waiting list for these services.

When should you apply?

How do I begin DORS services?

Be sure to connect with DORS student services as early as your first year of high school and apply for additional services in your last two years of high school. Qualifying students can request Pre-Employment Transition Services as early as 14 years old when in at least high school.

It is recommended that students apply for Vocational Rehabilitation services through DORS in the fall of their next-to-last year of high school. If eligible, Vocational Rehabilitation services may be available to the individual after they are no longer considered a student. Working with students during their last two years of high school gives DORS transition counselors ample time to provide transition planning and help ensure a smooth transition from school to post-secondary education or employment.

You or anyone listed below may call your local DORS
office or complete an online referral form at our website:

• School personnel with parental/guardian consent.
• Parents or other family members.
• Service providers.

© 2019 Maryland State Department of Education, Division of Early Intervention/Special Education Services

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