To learn more about this aspect of planning the transition from school to meaningful employment, we turned to information from the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center (NSTTAC).
Q: What does IDEA say about Transition Assessment?
A: Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when a student turns 16 (or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team) the IEP must include appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon “age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills” [§300.320 (b) (1)]. (NOTE: Some states have regulations that implement transition services at age 14 rather than 16. Source http://www.ncset.org/publications/viewdesc.asp?id=423)
Q: What is an “age-appropriate transition assessment?”
A: The term is not defined in the law. The Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) of the Council for Exceptional Children defined the term as:
“...ongoing process of collecting data on the individual’s needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational, living, and personal and social environments.
Q: What types of assessments can be used?
A: Transition assessments can be formal or informal. Formal assessments use a standardized procedure/test/process for administering, scoring, and interpreting an assessment. This allows a student’s score to be interpreted relative to other students. Informal assessments are less structured and do not allow comparison with other students. They can be used to assess a student’s performance over time, and can help plan and evaluate instructional interventions. They can also include information from parents, teachers, employers and others who know the student. Whatever type of transition assessments are used, it is important that none alone be viewed as a predictor of success or failure. Assessment data should ALWAYS be compared with other data, including abilities and interests.
Q: What are some types of formal assessments?
A: Formal assessments can include:
- Adaptive behavior/daily living skills assessments, which can help determine the type and amount of assistance that a student with disabilities may need.
- Aptitude tests, which can be used to measure a specific skill or ability.
- Intelligence tests, which can be used to assess a student's cognitive performance.
- Achievement tests, which can measure learning of academic skills. Results can be linked to occupational requirements and can identify potential areas needing remediation.
- Temperament inventories, which can help identify students’ dispositions towards various types of careers and work.
- Career maturity or employability tests, which can assess developmental stages or tasks on a continuum.
- Self-determination assessments, which can provide information about a student’s readiness to make and communicate decisions related to their interests, preferences and desires.
- Transition planning inventories, which can help identify transition strengths and needs in various aspects of adult living, including employment, postsecondary schooling and training, independent living, interpersonal relationships, and community living.
Q: What are some types of informal assessments?
A: Informal assessments may include:
Interviews and questionnaires, which can determine a student’s strengths, needs, preferences, and interests relative to anticipated post-school outcomes.
Direct observation of student performance at school, on the job, or in a postsecondary or community setting. Sometimes called “community-based or situational assessment” direct observation data typically includes task analytic data of steps in completing a task, work behaviors.
Curriculum-based assessments designed by educators can be used to gather information about a student’s performance and develop instructional plans.
Environmental analysis (sometimes referred to as ecological assessment and/or job analysis) which involves examining environments where activities normally occur.
Q: How can assessment results be used to plan transition services?
A: Transition assessments should:
- Guide and inform realistic and meaningful IEP goals and objectives.
- Guide lesson plans and instructional decisions.
- Provide information for the present level of performance (PLEP) related to a student’s strengths, interests, preferences, and needs.
- Provide information about the student’s strengths outside of academics and their career ambitions.
- Help students make a connection between their academic learning and their ambitions beyond school.
- Inform the Summary of Performance.
To read the full paper from NSTTAC, click here.
To access the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition’s Transition Assessment Toolkit, click here.
Want even more information? We love this easy to use Guide for Developing Postsecondary Goals and Transition Services produced by Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Education (VCU) under a contract from the Virginia Department of Education. It focuses on the Transition Assessment process and includes a decision tree to help direct the process.
Click here to access the guide.