Tiered Framework for Transition Assessment

A tiered framework helps organize the range of transition assessments you might use to meet a variety of student needs. A tiered framework can help with the challenge of establishing schoolwide transition assessment procedures to meet the needs of all special education students. 

First tier 

Use or attempt to use first tier transition assessments with all students in the cohort. First tier assessment should include methods the school uses with all students to evaluate student progress and assist them with identifying career interests, along with additional tools as needed to meet IDEA standards.

For example:  

  • Standardized testing 
  • interest inventories 
  • student dream sheet 
  • guidance department software tools for career exploration or interests 
  • career interest class projects 
  • employment experience 
  • example: Dream sheet (PDF, 2 pages) 

Data gathered from these sources are often a sufficient representation of a student’s interests, preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. Students who are not able to participate effectively in these types of assessments due to  limited reading comprehension, inexperience, or lack of decision-making skills may need a more targeted approach, the second tier. 

Second tier

Second tier assessment tools are administered to students who have been unable to isolate specific goals or interests through the usual channels, or whose goals are not yet aligned with their skills and abilities. Second tier assessments are more personalized and often include: 

Combining information from the first and second tiers may provide the additional information needed to create appropriate postsecondary goals and identify needs for transition services and annual goals. 

Third tier

Third-tier assessments are used when still more specific information is needed to accurately identify the student’s strengths, interests, preferences and needs.  Examples are: 

  • functional behavioral analysis 
  • vocational assessment 
  • life skills assessment 
  • results of person-centered planning 
  • example: Person-centered profiles 

Content update 7/29/22