John McDonnell and Michael Hardman have written a clear, well-organized, and comprehensive text that presents up-to-date information about critical components of transition-related planning and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The 16 chapters are authored by an additional 12 contributors, but a consistent format and coauthorship with McDonnell or Hardman on many chapters help with the alignment and continuity across chapters. The book is organized in five sections:
“Foundations of Transition Programs,” including historical and legislative foundations, expected outcomes and emerging values, and the role of secondary education in transition;
“Curriculum and Transition Planning,” including curriculum, developing individualized education plans (IEPs) and transition plans, promoting self-determination, and parent and family involvement;
“Instruction and Educational Supports,” including inclusion in general education classes and instruction in community settings;
“Critical Program Components,” including home and community living, leisure and recreation, employment training, and job placement; and
“Postschool Options,” including residential alternatives, employment, and postsecondary education.
The content offers practical, research-based information with a strong value base. The clearly written and concise chapters have several nice features that assist the reader to navigate the text and to bring the information to life. These include
Focus questions that identify the main points, followed by a Focus Question Review at the end of each chapter;
“Windows” (text within a box) that offer short vignettes that feature the voices of students and parents, or excerpts from the literature; and
Point/counterpoint narratives that offer different perspectives about current issues and dilemmas.
There are many excellent sections of the book that stand out. For example, Chapter 4 offers an important discussion about general education curriculum and assessment in the context of the No Child Left Behind Act. This is a critical and timely discussion for all secondary educators. Chapter 5 offers an in-depth discussion and example of person-centered planning. When discussing parent and family involvement (Chapter 7), the authors address family diversity and possible influences on transition planning. Educators must develop cultural competence as they partner with families. Last, Chapter 8, on inclusion in general education classes, is unique in a book about transition. It reinforces the values and beliefs undergirding the entire book and offers an excellent synthesis of why and how students should have access to the general education curriculum.
It is rare for transition texts to take a longitudinal perspective by including elementary schools, and this book is no exception. Chapter 3, “The Role of Secondary Education in Transition,” focuses on middle and high school. However, transitions occur across the lifespan, and the process and tone for student and family involvement, as well as curriculum preparation, begin as early as preschool. Therefore, a recommendation is offered to extend the discussion to elementary-aged students. This would assist educators who work with younger students to understand their roles and responsibilities related to transition planning, including teaching essential foundational skills, educating parents to hold high expectations and advocate for a desirable future, securing necessary services and supports, and transitioning students from preschool to elementary school and from elementary to middle school.
In summary, Successful Transition Programs provides an excellent resource for new and practicing professionals. Both the cutting-edge content and user-friendly format make this book appealing to preservice and inservice teachers and other practitioners involved in transition planning and services. It is my choice as the text for my university transition course.