Transition Assessments

Transition assessments (evaluations) help the IEP team understand your child’s strengths, challenges, preferences, interests, abilities, and capabilities. These assessments must be age-appropriate (based on your child’s chronological vs. developmental age). This means if your child is 14, they should not be assessed on an evaluation meant for a 9-year-old. The assessment process should be thorough. Completing only one or two assessments will not provide a full picture of your child, nor all of the information needed to create a good transition plan.

Assessments should be more than pen and paper. Students should be given real-world opportunities to determine their vocational (employment-related) interests and skills. This could include evaluating skills in a school setting (work in the office, the cafeteria, the library). It can also include assessments in actual employment situations. Schools often work with employers who will let students intern in their workplace to develop their skills or to see if a particular type of job or activity is the right fit.

Assessments can be formal or informal and should include information gathered through the person-centered planning process if that is done. Transition assessments may include but are not limited to:

  • Observations in different settings
  • Student interviews
  • Teacher evaluations
  • Interest inventories
  • Aptitude tests (assessing what the student is good at)
  • Intelligence tests
  • Vocational or Career Assessments (online or in person)
  • Situational assessments in a work setting (real experiences)
  • Life skills assessments
  • Parent/teacher/student checklists
  • Functional behavioral assessments

Assessments should be validated for the specific disability or at least not at odds with disability-related traits. This means, for example, a read-aloud assessment is not given to a deaf child who did not have spoken language. Here is a link to VDOE’s career assessment webpage.


Mary is a nonverbal child with autism  who has difficulty with social contacts. She is going to have a situational assessment to determine the type of job in which she may be interested. She has an appointment to test out a customer service position at a local grocery store. Is this an appropriate assessment for Mary?

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