Transition Assessment & Planning
Beginning at age 16, all students with disabilities are required to have transition goals included in their IEP’s. Many students with disabilities have difficulty transitioning from school to adult life so the overarching goal of this process is to assist students and families in identifying positive adult activities such as employment, postsecondary school or training and independent living options. Ideally, the process of planning for adult transitions will involve schools, other community agencies, and families. For example, schools may use a variety of different assessments during high school to identify a young adult’s career interests and skills, their interest in pursuing postsecondary education or training, and/or their independent living skills.
Other agencies such as Vocational Rehabilitation or DD Services may also conduct assessments to help an individual youth and his/her family develop a better understanding about the youth’s interests and skills. These assessments may include informal interviews and conversations regarding interests, norm-referenced tests of functional skills, career interest inventories, and other formal and informal assessments. Generally, these assessments are important for helping to identify a student’s strengths, interests, and preferences but individual preferences and interests change over time so these assessments should not be the only or final source of information used during planning.
Once assessment data has been gathered, information regarding interests and needs should be used to guide developing transition goals. Transition goals may include developing individual skills, goals focusing on accessing supports, and/or specific activities to improve outcomes. It is important to remember that goals should be based on individual needs interests. Below we provide several examples:
- Goal 1 (Individual Skill): Chris will improve his work-related social skills by demonstrating the ability to listen to and independently follow instructions.
- Goal 2 (access to supports): Chris will meet with a vocational rehabilitation counselor at least three times beginning in January to identify potential employment options.
- Goal 3 (activity): Chris will complete his resume and will apply to 20 restaurant jobs by (date). Evidence of completion of this goal will include actual email documentation notices of applications received.
Once goals have been identified and stated, the service needed to achieve the identified goal(s) should be articulated. Most often, these services will include direct support from a special education teacher, a transition specialist, possibly a guidance counselor, or someone else from the community (VR Counselor) who is qualified to help the student successfully achieve his or her goals.
Usually, there are many different avenues that can be taken to successfully achieve a goal. Therefore, support services should be aligned directly with the individual youth’s needs. For example, if the youth has difficulty writing or typing, they may need additional support creating a resume and completing online job applications. Another youth may have difficulty reading so may need help reading the applications themselves. A third youth may need support from his/her family on developing the social skills needed to communicate effectively with his/her employer. Finally, another youth might need support in all areas.