Secondary Transition
Age Appropriate Transition Assessments

Secondary Transition Parent Questionnaire



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Age appropriate transition assessments are defined by the Division on Career development and Transition (DCDT) as "an ongoing process of collecting data on the individual's needs, preferences, and interestes as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational, living, and personal and social environments.  Assessment data serve as the common thread in the transition process and form the basis for defining goals and services to be included in the Individualized Education Program (IEP)."  However, IDEA does not specifically define what is considered and what is not considered an assessment.

Assessments should be the basis for a student's IEP and Transition Plan.  They provide data about the student's current skills and their progress towards goals.  Without assessment data, it is impossible to know whether a student is learning the skills being taught, or just wasting both the student's and teacher's time.  By collecting assessment data, a teacher will know whether the program is effective for this student and possibly how to alter the program to improve the student's learning.


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"Age Appropriate"

Assessment Rule #1

Types of Assessments

Formal Assessment Examples

Informal Assessment Examples

Assessment Techniques

ISBE Examples / Non-Examples


"Age Appropriate"

Simply put, "age appropriate" means that the assessment chosen is based on the student's chronological age instead of developmental age.  This does not mean that you must exclude accommodations and adaptations when performing the assessment, but the type of assessment must be appropriate for any student at that age.


Assessment Rule #1

The #1 rule for assessment is that there should be NO instruction done while collecting assessment data. No hints! No help! Think of every assessment as the ACT.  When administering the ACT, the proctor does not give hints to the answer or explain content in any way.  No matter how basic the task or assessment, the teacher (or whoever is collecting data) should not instruct the student in any way (other than inferring when safety is a concern).  The purpose of an assessment to collect data on how a student does on a skill according to the desired outcome for the student.  Note: If there are permanent supports expected to be available for the student after graduation, then allow the student to use these when doing the assessment.

Use the example of teaching a student to brush his or her teeth.  Collect data on how the student performs the task as you would expect him or her to perform the task after high school.  For some students, permanent supports will be in place.  If the goal is for the student to brush their teeth after someone has put tooth paste on the toothbrush, then you would not let the student struggle with the toothpaste as this is not what you would expect them to do after high school.  If the goal is for the student to do algebra while using a calculator, than assess the student while letting him or her use a calculator.  Always assess the student according to how you expect the student to perform the skill after graduation.  Don't provide support during an assessment if the support is not going to be there when you're not around.

The purpose of collecting data this way is to see how the student is progressing towards a goal in the real world.  If the teacher is helping while assessing, then the student's ability is not accurately being assessed.  The results will only show what the student can do when a teacher is helping him or her.  Unless this assistance is expected forever and clearly defined, then the results of the assessment when an instructor helps do not really give any accurate information.


Different Types of Assessments

Formal - Formal assessments typically involve standardized procedures and standardized scoring rubrics.  The results are defined and sometimes interpreted for the user.  Formal assessments usually compare scores to other students (norm-referenced), although this is not always the case.

Informal - Informal assessments usually take less time to administer than formal assessments.  These assessments are less structured but can provide a more efficient way to collect ongoing data and evaluate a program's effectiveness on a continuous basis.  Sometimes these assessments can be more difficult to administer because they are less structured than formal assessments.


Examples of Formal Age Appropriate Assessments

It would be impossible to list all the assessments available for every student, but assessments generally fall into nine different categories.  Click on the name to learn more about this assessment.

Adaptive Behavior / Daily Living Skills Assessments can help determine the type and amount of assistance that people with disabilities may need. This assistance might be in the form of home-based support services for infants and children and their families, special education and vocational training for young people, and supported work or special living arrangements such as personal care attendants. Each assessment relies on a respondent such as a parent, teacher, or care-provider to provide information about an individual being assessed.

General and Specific Aptitude Tests measure a specific skill or ability. There are two types of aptitude tests: multi-aptitude test batteries and single tests measuring specific aptitudes. Multi-aptitude test batteries measure a wide range of aptitudes and combinations of aptitudes (e.g., general knowledge, spatial relations, form perception, color discrimination) and provide information that can be used in career decision making. Single aptitude tests measure specific aptitudes such as manual dexterity, clerical ability, artistic ability, or musical ability.

Interest Inventories provide information about an individual’s preferences for certain careers, occupational activities, or types of work.

Intelligence Tests involve a single test or test battery to assess a person's cognitive performance.

Achievement Tests measure learning of general or specific academic skills. Results can be linked to occupational requirements while helping to identify potential areas needing remediation.

Temperament Inventories / Instruments identify students’ dispositions towards various types of careers and work (e.g., careers that emphasize data, people, or things). The reports alone should not be viewed as a predictor of success or failure but rather should be compared with other data, including abilities and interests.

Career Maturity or Employability Tests are designed to assess developmental stages or tasks on a continuum.

Self-Determination Assessments provide information as to one’s readiness to make decisions related to their postsecondary ambitions. Such assessments provide data to help a student identify his or her relative strengths and needs related to self-determination and factors that may be promoting or inhibiting this outcome.

Transition Planning Inventories can help identify transition strengths and needs in various aspects of adult living, including employment, postsecondary schooling and training, independent living, interpersonal relationships, and community living. They also question and identify students’ goals and awareness of what is needed or required to achieve those goals.


Examples of Informal Assessment

Informal assessments are exactly what the name implies.  They are very informal, adaptable, and sometimes created by teachers themselves.  They tend to fall into four main types of assessments, but can look very different in practice based on their use.

Interviews and Questionnaires can be conducted with a variety of individuals for the purpose of gathering information to be used to determine a student’s strengths, needs, preferences, and interests relative to anticipated post-school outcomes. In other words, what is currently known about a student, and her or his family, that can be used to help develop postsecondary goals and to plan a course-of-study that will help the student reach his or her goals? An important part of this data collection process involves gathering information about a student and his or her family’s current and future resources. For example, if a student’s future education choice is to enroll in postsecondary education, it is helpful to know as soon as possible the financial resources a family might have or need. Another example might involve current and future transportation needs to get to work or to various activities/places in the community. Finally, families can often provide current and future resources in terms of employment options for their daughter or son or for other students in a high school program.

Direct Observation of student performance should be conducted within the natural environment, or school, employment, postsecondary, or community setting. Sometimes called “community-based or situational assessment," direct observations can be often done by a job coach, co-worker, recreation specialist, general/vocational educator, and/or student. Direct observation data typically includes task analytic data of steps in completing a task, work behaviors (e.g., on-task, following directions, getting along with coworkers), and affective information (e.g., is student happy, excited, frustrated, or bored?). For example, if you are observing at a worksite, and a student quickly and accurately completes his or her tasks, interacts well with co-workers, and appears happy, this could provide evidence that this type of job is one that the student likes. However, after visiting a community residential setting where a student appears withdrawn, this may be an indication that the particular situation may not be suitable or satisfying for him or her.

Curriculum-Based Assessments (CBA) are typically designed by educators to gather information about a student’s performance in a specific curriculum and to develop instructional plans for a specific student. To gather these data, an educator might use task analyses, work sample analyses, portfolio assessments, and/or criterion-referenced tests.  Curriculum-Based Measurements (CBM) are similar to CBAs in that they gather information about a student's performance in a specific curriculum and to develop instructional plans for a specific student.  The difference between CBA and CBM are the frequency of data gathering.  CBAs are typically longer (up to a full period) assessments that are done less frequently (such as a pre-test and a post-test in regards to a unit in math).  CBMs on the other hand are short (two or three minute assessments) that are done very frequently (such as every week or twice a week).

Environmental Analysis, sometimes referred to as ecological assessment and/or job analysis, involves carefully examining environments where activities normally occur. For example, a student may express an interest in attending karate classes at the local YMCA. In this case an environmental analysis might be conducted to investigate transportation needs and the expectations at the YMCA for attending (e.g., being a member, using the locker room, taking a shower). In a second example, if a student expressed interest in a specific type of job, a job analysis could be conducted comparing requirements of the job to the student’s skills. A critical part of the analysis should be to identify types of accommodations that could be provided to help a student perform the necessary functions of a particular job (e.g., job restructuring, modifying equipment, acquiring an adaptive device, re-organizing the work space, hiring a personal assistant.


Assessment Techniques

For assessing students, it is valuable to have a plan on when to assess and when to teach.  One effective is the APIE method (Assess, Plan, Instruct, and Evaluate). In the first step (assess), educators assess the student using formal and/or informal assessments. The second step (plan) involves interpreting the results from these assessments and incorporating them into the student’s transition plan. In the third step (instruct), students learn the skills they will need to reach their postschool goals. In the last step (evaluate), students and educators evaluate whether progress has been made toward achieving the transition activities and IEP goals and objectives.  This process can be repeated several times while a student is learning a skill. It is important for assessment information to be collected continuously with periodic checkpoints, because students may change their minds (e.g., interests, preferences) and attributes (e.g., skills, knowledge, strengths).

Best practices include assessment information provided by multiple people, regarding student performance in multiple environments, based on naturally occurring experiences, that is understandable, and that was gathered through instruments and methods sensitive to cultural diversity.

Age Appropriate Transition Assessment FAQ

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