Assessment is essential because it serves as the foundation for much of the decision-making around a student’s transition plan. Initially the student’s IEP team collaborates to determine what kind of assessment data might be helpful at any point in the transition planning process. The kinds of assessments that are chosen vary to a certain extent, based on the student’s individual situation, but also on the student’s age. For example, younger students’ assessments are more likely to focus on their functional capabilities and their classroom needs. As students grow older, their assessments may revolve more around their capacity to work, to obtain postsecondary education and to live independently. Assessments do not, of course, define a student; they merely take a snapshot of one aspect of the student at a particular moment in time. It is then up to the IEP team to use the data from the assessments wisely and in concert with the student’s demonstrated needs, interests and preferences.

Assessments can also be useful in another way. They can help build a student’s self-determination and self-advocacy skills . Oftentimes, students have difficulties in their lives, but do not understand what is at the root of the problem and how it might be addressed. Assessment data can help students better understand what they might need in a given situation, whether it’s eyeglasses to better see the blackboard, a particular assistive technology device to help read a textbook, or additional time to complete a test. When students know what they need, they can ask for it. And that means they can then advocate for themselves, even in situations where the people around them may not be familiar with their needs.

STRATEGY:  Interest Inventories

One extremely important type of assessment includes interest inventories. Interest inventories help to identify the types of things a student is interested in, whether it involves particular kinds of activities or potential career choices. These assessments can help a young adult and his IEP team better understand his interests and incorporate them into his transition planning.