Transition Assessment Recommendations

One of the most frequent questions I receive from professionals is: “What assessments to I give to a kid?” While we may want a “One Ring” solution, the truth is that there are a variety of assessments that cover different areas. Some are better than others, and some are better for specific disabilities. Below are some of my personal recommendations. This is not an exhaustive list, nor is it perfect. The real trick (covered in later posts) will be interpreting these assessments and integrating them into a transition plan and IEP. But hopefully these can act as a starting guide when selecting assessments.

Mild/Moderate Disabilities

  • Review and renew formal assessments, if necessary
    • Cognitive (WJ-IV COG, WAIS-IV)
      • Most colleges and universities won’t accept other cognitive assessments
    • Academic (WJ-IV ACH, K-TEA 3, etc.)
      • Following testing guidelines. K-TEA 3 requires a masters degree to administer and interpret
    • Adaptive (Vineland, BASC)
      • Vineland is considered much more valid than the small adaptive measures on BASC
  • AIR or ARC Self-Determination Scale
    • ARC is more comprehensive but AIR is far easier to score. Both require a good deal of familiarity to interpret for the purpose of creating transition plans.
  • Future Planning Inventory
    • Free to use and comes with teacher, parent, and student forms. Great first step and reevaluation/triennial evaluation tool.
  • Personal Preference Indicator
    • Great for students with moderate support needs. A bit out dated but easy to create your own version for personal or district use. I suggest making teacher/parent and student forms. This is also a great way to design instruction.
  • ME! Scale
    • Great for bellringer and first week of school activities.
  • Transition Planning Inventory, 3rd Edition (TPI-3)
    • Robust assessment that looks at several domains. While a great tool, it does cost money for the kit and protocols, meaning a lot of school districts are hesitant to use it. For that reason, I would only use it for students with moderate support needs where transition readiness is a high priority for parents.
  • Transition to Work Inventory (TWI)
    • Same as the above, but the focus is more on employment readiness than other domains.
  • Child and Adolescent Trauma Screen (CATS)
    • Trauma screening is important, since kids with developmental disabilities are far more likely to experience trauma than their peers. This screener helps you know if trauma may be a factor as you plan for the future, and if there are steps that need to be part of the transition planning and service process.
  • All assessments should include parent and student (if available and applicable) forms. Parents are equal members of the IEP team; therefore, they should not be left out of the assessment process.

Emotional/Behavioral Disability

  • All of the same recommendations for Mild/Moderate still apply.
  • Update observations and Positive Behavior Intervention and Support Plan
    • Be sure to include sections on home and community support.
  • Behavior Assessment System for Children, 3rd Edition (BASC-3)
    • Include two teachers, parent, and student (self) forms
  • Rating scales for specific conditions
    • anxiety, depression, etc. BASC is a great general scale, but we want to look at other things (especially anxiety and depression) a bit more closely
    • Since comorbidity can be in play, send rating scales if the student also has ADHD or autism.
  • Parent and student rating scales are essential.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Same recommendations as Mild/Moderate and Emotional/Behavioral Disability
  • Self-Determination, Communication, and Disability Awareness are all essential (versus optional) assessments.
  • Observations in class and other environments
    • Teacher and parent interviews are not enough. They need guided questions on very specific areas. Please use actual assessments or structured interviews instead of asking your own questions.
  • Toronto Alexithymia Scale
    • Can be found for free online. While Alexithymia is not inherent in autism (it is also a common sign in trauma victims), it can be helpful in knowing what additional services may be needed.

Severe/Profound Disabilities

  • Same recommendations as the above categories.
  • Brigance Transition Skills Inventory , 2nd Edition (TSI-2)
    • Covers four domains: academic skills, post-secondary opportunities, independent living, and community participation. You can combine this with Transition Skills Activities (TSA-2) to help create instructional activities that align with goals and present levels. The downside is that these tools are not free and that a district would need to invest in such a program.
  • Transition Assessment and Goal Generator (TAGG)
    • Comes through the respected Zarrow Center out of the University of Oklahoma. There are versions for middle school, high school, and for those who are not looking at college or university enrollment. This tool can also be used for mild/moderate disabilities. The tool kit and protocols are all online but do require purchase. The assessment tool helps you create goals, present levels, and progress monitoring.
  • AAC Assessment
    • Critical for those who are non-verbal or with very little verbal communication.
    • WATI and UKAT are the two most used and trusted assessments, though many professionals tend to just use the SETT framework.
    • Encourage your AAC professionals to use a trusted assessment such as WATI or UKAT, especially if there is the possibility the student could change school districts.
  • Update OT and PT testing (if applicable)
  • Community observation and experience reports
    • It may not be possible to observe in the community. However, community experience reports can be helpful. There is no specific example, though you may be able to find good ones through internet search.
  • Consider having religious and community leaders fill out forms.
    • This is especially helpful if the student comes from a highly religious home or a small rural town.
    • Do not shy away from community and religious leaders. Their insight and impact can be valuable. And no, it does not violate separation of church and state. You are taking into account the complete student; interests, preferences, and values.

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