What is an age-appropriate transition assessment?

… the ongoing process of collecting data on the individual’s needs, strengths, preferences and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, education, living and personal and social environments.  Assessment data serve as the common thread in the transition process and form the basis for defining goals and services to be included in the IEP.”

– The Council for Exceptional Children, Division on Career Development and Transition


  • identify the student's strengths, needs, interests and preferences;
  • develop postsecondary goals, transition services, and annual goals and objectives related to transition;
  • make instructional programming decisions; and
  • engage the student in the transition process.



Linked examples show how using existing information can inform decisions regarding transition.


  • Evaluation Summary and Eligibility Report (ESER) information should serve as the foundation for a transition assessment. The transition assessment should incorporate all relevant evaluation data, identified strengths and weaknesses, and areas identified as needing services. For example, cognitive or adaptive measures should provide substantial information regarding transition needs. Click here for an example
  • Cumulative (cum) file information including grades, credits, attendance and discipline record. Click here for an example
  • Interviews with the student, which should be conducted at least yearly. There are many questionnaires available or use your own questions. Click here for an example
  • District and state assessments such as AIMSweb, Standards Based Assessments (SBAs) and the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam (HSGQE).
  • Other assessments including WorkKeys, Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), PSAT, SAT, ACT and Accuplacer and other various interest inventories.
  • Relevant input or observations from the students, parents and teachers which provide information regarding the student's motivation, preferences, interests, strengths and needs as related to transition. Click here for an example
  • Curriculum-based assessments such as the Brigance Transition Skills Inventory and information provided by ULS (Life skills).
  • Skill inventories that can be used to identify job-oriented, academic and functional life skills.
  • Functional Vocational Evaluation, if determined appropriate by the IEP team.
  • On-the-job evaluations, including interviews with employers regarding their observations of job performance, as well as supervisor reviews required by work-experience credit courses.


ESER information

Two students want to be engineers. One has a standardized achievement test math score of 76 and HSGQE math score of 245 while the other has scores of 130 and 412, respectively. Using only information from the ESER and HSGQE, the team could determine that this career choice may not be realistic for one of the students.


Cumulative file

An 11th grade student wants to play football in college. However, he barely maintains a 2.0 G.P.A., even with A’s in two P.E. courses. Using only this information from the cum file, the team could determine this to be an unrealistic goal and assist the student in determining another choice.


Student interviews

Interests inventories indicate that two students have a preference to work in a health-care related field. One has a WISC-IV General Ability Index of 127, with A’s and B’s in advanced math and science courses. The other has a WISC-IV overall score of 95 with B’s and C’s in basic math and science courses. This data indicates that both are capable of achieving the goal of working in a health care field but would need guidance in matching their abilities with the educational and employment demands of specific careers in the field.


Relevant input or observations

A student wants to study art in college but poor grades indicate he struggles with core academic classes. However, general education teacher reports say he is extremely creative and excels in topics that interest him. Further, art teachers report that he’s highly motivated and actively engaged in pursuing postsecondary education. In this case, reports from general education teachers reflect that his difficulty with core academics may not be the best indicator of potential success in his chosen field. Therefore, attending college to study art is a realistic postsecondary goal.


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