Transition Assessment

Documents & Files
Transition Assessments Chart
Transition Assessments Chart PDF

Transition assessment is the foundation upon which transition goals and services are based. Nuebert and Leconte (2013) explain that, “for several decades, youth with disabilities have faced challenges transitioning from school to employment, post-secondary education, and community living” (p. 72). Transition assessment is widely defined as follows:

"Transition assessment is an on-going process of collecting information on the student's strengths, needs, preferences and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future living, learning, and working environments. This process should begin in middle school and continue until the student graduates or exits high school. Information from this process should be used to drive the IEP and transition planning process and to develop the SOP [Summary of Performance] document detailing the student's academic and functional performance and postsecondary goals" (Sitlington, Neubert, Begun, Lombard and Leconte, 2007, pp. 2-3)

Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment
Age-appropriate transition assessments refer to the collection of data on the student’s needs, preferences and interests. Transition assessments should be completed each year and the information can be used in the transition IEP. Transition assessments can cover many areas, including employment, self-determination and self-advocacy, independent living and study skills.

Planning is a key step in transition assessment

Guiding questions that assist in developing a transition assessment plan include the following:

  • How will the assessment framework that is in place be used or how will a framework be developed?
    • Referencing a transition framework helps to ensure that a comprehensive plan is being developed.
  • Is there access to the appropriate assessment resources and records? o
    • Assemble all current academic testing such as annual standardized test results, psychological testing, disability diagnoses, etc.
    • Request access to any records that are currently unavailable.
  • Are additional assessments needed?
    • Pinpoint unidentified student needs.
    • Identify the particular assessments that will be administered. Be sure to include aspects beyond the obvious, such as assistive technology (AT).
  • Are students and parents actively involved in the transition assessment process?
    • Identify methods used to support students develop self-determination and self-advocacy skills. Is additional support for the student needed in this area?
    • Identify history of parent involvement and share literature to assist parents in their role as advocates.
  • Are all appropriate personnel from school and other agencies involved in the process?
    • Ensure the participation of relevant general education classroom teachers, Exceptional Student Education (ESE) teachers, personnel representing agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation (VR), Agency for Persons with Disabilities (APD) or other related agencies. There may be specific local agencies or entities that provide may provide support to students and who should be involved in the process.

Transition assessment instruments may be either formal or informal.

  • Formal assessments are standardized and usually compare a student’s results to those of similar students (norm-referenced assessment) or to established standards or criteria (criterion-referenced assessment). Formal assessments have strict guidelines for administration and interpretation and test publishers may require that teachers and other test administrators meet specific educational or training requirements in order to administer them. Examples of formal assessments include the following:
    • Florida Standards Assessment (FSA)
    • Florida Standards Alternate Assessment (FSAA)
    • College Entrance Test
    • Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test (PSAT)
    • American College Test (ACT)
    • College Placement Test (CPT)
    • Transition Planning Inventory
    • Brigance Transition Skills Inventory
  • Informal assessments are not standardized and may include observations, recreation or work-based assessments, inventories, rating scales and interviews. Examples of informal assessments include the following:
    • Curriculum-based, teacher-made tests
    • Interest inventories
    • Observations
    • Questionnaires
    • Situational assessments
    • Surveys
    • Interviews
    • Checklists

    Transition Transition Assessments Chart, a list of transition assessments and location information, is attached in the Document & Files menu on the right-hand side of the page.

Transition assessment should include record reviews to incorporate current information, goals, and results from prior testing, planning, and activities.

(Timmons, Podmostko, Bremer, Lavin, & Wills, 2005)

Record reviews will help ensure that students are not needlessly retested for information that is readily available. Additional guidelines for transition assessment include:

  • Assessment activities should be positive and lead to self-empowerment.
  • Self-determination based on informed choices should be an overriding goal.
  • The purposes and goals of assessment should be clear.
  • Environmental factors affecting the individual should be considered.
  • Assessment reports should be written in easily understandable language (Timmons, Podmostko, Bremer, Lavin, & Wills, 2005, pp. 1-8).


Age Appropriate Transition Assessment Fact Sheet (pdf)
This Fact Sheet, jointly developed by the Division on Career Development and Transition and the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center, contains information on formal and information transition assessments, conducting an age appropriate transition assessment, and selecting assessment instruments.

Age Appropriate Transition Assessment Toolkit (pdf)
The Toolkit, jointly developed by the Division on Career Development and Transition and the National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center, contains comprehensive information on transition assessment including frameworks for assessment, selecting age-appropriate assessment instruments, and examples of transition assessments.

Career Planning Begins with Assessment: A Guide for Professionals Serving Youth with Educational and Career Development Challenges
The downloadable guide contains information on selecting career-related assessments, determining when to refer youth for additional assessment, and issues such as accommodations, legal issues, and ethical considerations. Also contains a glossary of terms and information on developing interagency assessment collaborations.

Child and Adolescent Scale of Participation (CASP)
This  assessment measures the extent to which children participate in home, school, and community activities as reported by family caregivers. It was designed as part of the Child and Family Follow-up Survey (CFFS) to monitor outcomes and needs of children with traumatic and other acquired brain injuries (ABI). A youth report version is also available. The CASP is provided with open access for download.

National Deaf Center - Transition Resources
This webpage includes information on transition/life skills checklists and resources.

Vocational Fit  Assessment
This assessment, often used by Project SEARCH sites, is a valid and reliable assessment of student abilities and internship demands that facilitate job matches.

Related Reading

Clark, G. M., Patton, J. R. & Moulton, L. R. (2000). Informal assessments for transition planning. Austin. TX: Pro-Ed. May be ordered from

Whitfield, E.A., Feller, R.W., & Wood, C. (2009). A counselor's guide to career assessment instruments. (5th ed.). Broken Arrow, OK: National Career Development Association.


Division of Career Development and Transition and National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center. (n.d.). Age-appropriate transition fact sheet. Ithaca, NY: DCDC & Charlotte, NC: NTACT. Available at

Sitlington, P.L., Neubert, D.A., Begun, W.H., Lombard, R.C., & Leconte, P.J. (2007). Assess for success: A practitioner’s handbook on transition assessment. (2nd ed.) Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. May be ordered from

Timmons, J., Podmostko, M., Bremer, C., Lavin, D., & Wills, J. (2005, October). Career planning begins with assessment: A guide for professionals serving youth with educational and career development challenges. Washington, DC: National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability for Youth, Institute for Educational Leadership. Available at

Walker, A.R., Kortering, L.J., Fowler, C.H.. & Rowe, D. (2010). Age-appropriate transition assessment guide. (4th ed.). Charlotte, NC: National Secondary Transition Technical Assistance Center, Univerisity of North Carolina at Charlotte. Available at /AgeAppropriateTransitionAssessment Toolkit2016_COMPLETE_11_21_16.pdf