Overview of Transition to Adulthood: Transition Assessments

So you’re ready to begin the
process of planning transition with your IEP team. Where do you begin? Well, the place to begin
is with assessments. You have to assess what the area
of need is to determine where you’re going. And one of the very first things
that many IEP teams get involved in is what’s called
a person-centered planning. And oftentimes in districts,
they will have somebody from their district who knows
how to do that and is expert at that. Or it might be that they have
to get somebody from outside of the district to come in as
a consult model to run a person-centered planning. But it’s a really good place to
begin, because it gives an overview of need. What are your dreams
for the student? What are your nightmares
for the student? Getting everything down as
that starting place. It’s that assessment of what
further assessments we need, if that makes any sense. Yeah, it does. And really, what you’re hoping
to accomplish as a team is that you’re going to be developing transition services. And as the first step, as Julie
said, you’re going to want to do assessments. And they can look like any
number of things– vocational assessments, interest
inventories to find out what the student’s
interests are. But basically, what the IDEA
wants IEP teams to be looking at are four key things as part
of post-secondary goals. Training, education, employment,
and where appropriate, daily
living skills. And so those are really the
areas that we’re supposed to be assessing as part
of this process. And I think it’s also important
to know that assessments don’t have to be
something that you write down on a piece of paper. They come in many forms. It could be that it’s an
evaluation that a specialist does in a specific
area of a domain. It could be that it’s somebody
observing your child, your student, in the setting that you
would like to see them in. So for example, if one of the
goals is that they don’t know how to do grocery shopping
independently, you might bring them to the grocery store and
assess how they do at that. So that you can figure out,
well, what are the skills that they need that they don’t
have right now? So it doesn’t always
have to be a test. It can be an observation. It can be many things. But it’s anything you do, any
tool you use, to gather that information. And basically, what you’re
trying to do in all cases surrounding special education,
is looking at the unique needs of the child. And one of the things that I’ve
found in my practice, Julie, is people often
misunderstand transition services, and they assume that
transition services should only be provided to those
students with significant developmental disabilities. When in fact, the law says that
transition services are supposed to be in place for all
students who have special education needs, for all
students who have IEPs. So as an example, if a student
has a specific learning disability, Julie, it doesn’t
mean we don’t provide transition services. You still have to provide
transition services. They may look different, and
therefore the assessment may look different. And in fact, the 2004 IDEA
very clearly said that post-secondary education is
something school districts are required to be providing
services for for students who have special education needs. So really, we’re trying to get
kids ready for college. So as part of the transition
plan for the uniqueness of a child who is college-bound,
you may be looking at very different kinds of assessments
as part of that process. So it’s based on the unique
needs of the child, and you want to start by gathering
information that assists the team in developing services
and goals. And on a practical point,
talking about the child who is college-bound, you might be
doing assessments that have to do with executive functioning,
planning, and organizing. And that might be the weakness
for that student. So those types of IEP goals
are in the plan. That doesn’t necessarily mean
that that student will not graduate and go on to college
the very next year after 12th grade. They may get all of those
IEP goals met prior to going to college. There may be a student where
they need an extra year and do several things, including
continuing to work on those executive functioning skills. So the assessment for a students
who may not want to go on to college may look
very different. You might be looking at
assessments that are going to capture what that child wants
to do as far as working. Right. And there is no flat rule for
any one type of disability or one type of student. The bottom line is, if your
child has an IEP, an individualized education
program, transition assessment needs to be the first step in
developing those appropriate transition services for the
unique needs of your child.

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