Transition Assessment

For students with IEPs

Definition within student-focused planning: Age-appropriate transition assessment information is a) used to identify the student’s preferences, interests, choices, and needs; b) reflected in the summary of student’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance; and c) used as a basis for the development of measureable postsecondary goals in the IEP.

Definition within student development: When a student has an IEP, age-appropriate transition assessment information (e.g., academic, cognitive, career/occupational, adaptive behavior) is routinely collected and used to inform student-focused planning.


  • Age-appropriate transition assessment is a process. No one single instrument will provide all the information you need.
  • Career assessments (including curriculum-based and situational assessment)
  • Interest inventories
  • Values inventories
  • Academic, cognitive, and adaptive behavior assessments

Compilations of assessments

The Transition Assessment Matrix from the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center has a wealth of information. It’s well-designed – you can explore assessments by domain (employment, education, independent living), grade level, type of disability, or any combination of the above.

Age Appropriate Transition Assessment Toolkit, 4th edition (PDF, 64 pages, 2016) from NTACT, the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition.

The Transition Coalition maintains a list of assessments with user reviews. You can see what other people think and also add your own opinions.

Formal and informal transition assessments by topic

Formal transition assessments:

  • To learn about a wide variety of skill levels in various areas (e.g., vocational, academic, social)
  • Published tests: scores that compare students to others
  • A starting point
  • Types: learning style inventories, academic achievement tests, adaptive behavior scales,  aptitude tests, interest inventories

Informal transition assessments:

  • Observing the student in various academic and work experiences
  • Talking with the student about likes and dislikes
  • Setting up experiences to allow the student to try something that that may be of interest
  • Often teacher-made, often do not result in a score

Self-determination assessments


AIR Self-Determination Assessment (free)
Index of Learning Styles from North Carolina State University (free)
The VARK Questionnaire (free for educational use)


Self-determination Student Checklist from Virginia Department of Education I’m Determined Project (free)
RENEW Youth Portfolio (free)

Assistive technology assessments

Importance of accurate assessment to make the right match between technology and user, from

Free downloads on specific assistive technology, from the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction

Independent living assessments


Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale
Life Skills Inventory (free)
Casey Life Skills (free)


teacher-made questionnaire or survey
Index of Learning Styles (free)
The VARK Questionnaire (free for educational use)
RENEW Youth Portfolio

Vocational or career exploration assessments


Brigance Transition Skills Inventory
O*Net Online (free)
O*Net Resource Center (free)
Career Cruising
SIGI (System of Integrated Guidance and Information)
Interest Inventories


Extended learning Opportunities (ELOs)
Work-based learning (job shadows, internships, business tours)
YES! (Your Employment Selections)
Interest inventories page on this site
My Next Move (free)
Khake (free)
Career One Stop (free)
Kids Work (free)

Education assessments

Secondary School Success Checklist from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (free)
Kaplan Test Prep (free practice tests)

General assessment resources

Examples and more resources on the Age-Appropriate Transition Assessment page of our Transition IEP Tool.

Recordings and materials from Next Steps webinar, “Transition Assessment: Knowing the Options and How to Use Them

Career Planning Begins with Assessment: A Guide for Professionals Serving Youth with Educational and Career Development Challenges (PDF, 140 pages, 2005). Information on selecting career-related assessments, determining when to refer youth for additional assessment, and additional issues such as accommodations, legal issues, and ethical considerations. Also, information on developing practical and effective policies, collaboration among programs, and interagency assessment systems. From the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability. This guide can be downloaded by section.

Age Appropriate Transition Assessment:  The Position of the Division on Career Development and Transition (PDF, 12 pages, 2013), a  position paper that identifies federal policy; definitions, terms, and purposes; a conceptual framework and process; and competencies for personnel involved in age-appropriate transition assessment. Published in Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals.

Updated 11/14/2016
Link check 4/27/2017