Guest Blogger: Brendan McCarthy, Transition Specialist

Wondering what the deal is with Transition Assessments? Brendan McCarthy is guest blogging to answer all your burning questions!

What is a Transition Assessment,
and why do we need them?

The purpose of a transition assessment is to capture the student’s postsecondary vision and identify skills they need to develop in order to reach their goals.  

This information is then used to guide the student’s IEP to write meaningful goals and benchmarks/objectives focused specifically on the student’s needs and vision.  Many students also work with agencies or are applying to work with service providers outside of school, and the transition assessment provides helpful information to these service providers. 

ANOTHER super important function of the transition assessment is allowing the student an opportunity to voice their goals, strengths, and needs.  For many, the transition assessment is the first time they’ve been tasked with really thinking critically about life after high school. 

What is important to remember
when writing effective transition assessments?

The STUDENT’s goals are key! 

While it’s important to gather info from their guardians and their teachers, we want to know the student’s postsecondary vision to reinforce self-determination. 

So that means choosing assessments that provide an opportunity for students to think about their career, living options, postsecondary education/training, and community access.

What are your favorite transition assessments to use? And how do you choose what to use for each student?

The Transition Planning Inventory- 3rd Edition (TPI-3) covers vocational development, independent living skills, community access, postsecondary education preparedness, and self-advocacy, and it’s three identical forms that go to the student, guardian, and a teacher.  

To capture the student’s vision, their experience and interests, and their independent living skills, I use a parent checklist questionnaire, and then either a word-based student transition planning questionnaire or visual transition assessment tool for non-readers.

I also use the Transition Behavior Scale from Hawthorne Educational Services, which measures a student’s transitional and career readiness with a standardized score.  I typically reserve this assessment for students with high needs who will likely qualify for adult state services. 

If the student’s vision includes college, then I use the Landmark Guide to College readiness or the College Survival and Success Scale.

The last assessment I use is (in my opinion) the most fun.  I use a career interest inventory (available on most state career development websites) which asks students to rate 80 various activities and links the results with career clusters based on their answers. I always preface this one by saying we are NOT determining their career path, but practicing linking interests to jobs.

How do you involve families and what other types of collaboration is involved?

I always send a couple of forms to parents, and if needed I’ll speak to the parents over the phone so they can voice their hopes, concerns, and questions. 

I send the assessment home a couple of days before the IEP meeting so the parents have a chance to read it before I review the results at the meeting. 

Rather than spend a long time going through each form, I highlight the strengths, areas for growth, and results of the career interest inventory (the crowd pleaser!). 

How do we use the assessment results?

Assessment results are used to guide the IEP, provide information for the Transition Planning Form (TPF), and to write transition related goals.
The information gathered can also be extremely helpful for service providers who work or who will potentially work with your student. It’s important for everyone to read through the plan carefully BEFORE drafting any goals.​

Final tips on Transition Assessments:

While an evaluation dedicated specifically to a student’s transition skills is a very helpful tool, evaluations by school psychologists, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP’s), and other evaluators also count as transition assessments if they cover the postsecondary vision and gaps in their skill development. 

It’s also important to remember that transition assessment is ongoing and can absolutely be informal.  

Check out more resources below that help students (who can read) to develop transition skills while staff monitor their progress.

And if you’re looking for more transition planning resources for students with more severe needs, check out self-determination & transition planning resources below from Transition Abilities!