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Transition: Summary of Performance (SOP)

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high school girl graduateWhen your child graduates from high school with a regular diploma or “ages out” of special education, IDEA requires the school to provide a “summary of academic achievement and functional performance.”  The Summary of Performance (SOP) should include recommendations about ways to help meet post-secondary goals.

The SOP must be completed during the final year of a student’s high school education and is most useful when completed during the transition IEP process when the student has the opportunity to actively participate in the development of this document.  The document should contain the most updated information on the performance of the student and include both the student’s abilities and aspirations.

IDEA 2004

(ii)Summary of performance – For a child who eligibility under this part terminates under circumstance described in clause(i), a local educational agency shall provide the child with summary of the child’s academic achievement and functional performance, which shall include recommendations on how to assist the child in meeting the child’s postsecondary goals. 1414(c)(5)(B)(ii)

The requirements for the SOP are found in the Federal Regulations at 34 CFR §300.305(e)(3).

State Summary of Performance Requirements

The information in the Summary of Performance should be based on your child’s unique needs and her goals after she graduates from high school, although IDEA does not spell out specifically what the SOP must contain. 

Since specific information that must be included in a student's SOP will vary by state, parents should become familiar with their state's requirements. Check to see if your state Department of Education has developed a policy on the SOP development process.

State Summary of Performance Links

National Resource Map. Links to 37 state Summary of Performance sites from the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC). Click on any state to see the state’s Summary of Performance form (if available) and information and resources relating to transition.

One Example of State Policy

Intent of the SOP, from Summary of Performance, South Dakota DOE, OESS

The word “summary” provides a clue to the intent of the new requirement. Special Education professionals accumulate a wealth of information regarding their students, including: life goals, preferences and interests, functional and academic strengths and needs, needed accommodations, strategies for success, etc. In the past, much of this information simply ended up in a dead file, and even when file documents were copied for future service providers, they were not always in a useful and up-to-date format for the next provider. IDEIA 2004 requires that in lieu of an exit evaluation, a summary of performance be prepared during the student’s exit year. A well-written Summary of Performance may make the reader feel like they know the student.

The Summary of Performance (SOP) is discussed as part of evaluation procedures. While the SOP is very closely tied to information contained in the IEP, it should be a separate document which condenses and organizes the key information that should follow the student.

The summary document (SOP) is required upon the student’s graduation with a regular diploma or age-out from special education services.

However, as a best practice, educators could choose to prepare an SOP earlier for students who are: transferring to another school, meeting with the Disability Coordinator at a college, applying for Vocational Rehabilitation Services, or visiting an Adjustment Training Center. Since the intent of the SOP is to provide crucial information to those people who may assist the student in the future, providing that information when it is most timely makes sense.

Model Summary of Performance Form

In 2005, the National Transition Documentation Summit, a group of secondary and postsecondary representatives, rehabilitation specialists, consumer advocates, and parents, produced a model template for the Summary of Performance.

It is available to be freely copied or adapted for educational purposes.  The model template has been developed in collaboration with the Council for Exceptional Children’s Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT), Division on Learning Disabilities (DLD), and Council on Educational Diagnostic Services (CEDS), Learning Disability Association (LDA), the Higher Education Consortium for Special Education (HECSE), and the Council for Learning Disabilities (CLD).

This sample form provides very detailed and helpful information regarding the supports the student will need to be successful after high school. Parents should check their State Education Agency or school district to see if they have developed a model form for the SOP.   

videoCompleting a Summary of Performance Form. This video, based on the model template used in Oklahoma, is designed to assist students in understanding the SOP document and how it provides information to colleges, vocational school programs, adult service providers, training facilities, and employers. The video shows students how to complete the sections for student input and feedback.


Questions and Answers on Secondary Transition. US Department of Education says State and local officials have the flexibility to determine the appropriate content to be included in a child’s SOP, based on the child’s individual needs and postsecondary goals.

The National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC) provides links to State Summary of Performance (SOP) forms as well as other state transition resources.

Frequently Asked Questions about SOP from the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD).

Student Summary of Performance from Charting Your Course, VA College Quest.

National Transition Documentation Summit © 2005 Summary of Performance Model Template. Available to be freely copied or adapted for educational purposes. Download from the Council for Exceptional Children.

Resource Guide, FAQs about the SOP from the Connecticut State Department of Education.

Wrightslaw: All About IEPsFor information about Graduation and Summary of Performance, read Chapter 9: Transition to Life After School in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.


More About Life After High School

Transition, Transition Services, and Transition Planning

College and Continuing Education

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Created: 03/08/10

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