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

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 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







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