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TRANSITION ASSESSMENTS: New DESE Advisory Clarifies Requirements for Special Education Students

May 2, 2014

The DESE recently published a new technical assistance advisory to inform secondary school administrators and directors of special education about the requirements to perform "transition assessments" with special education students for the transition planning process.

This welcomed guidance explains that the transition assessment process can take different forms.  These include:

  1. Formative assessment data, e.g. data collected through the day-to-day instruction of special education students;
  2. Summative assessment data, e.g. final exam, cap stone projects or thesis;
  3. Informal assessments, e.g. student interest inventories, check lists, interviews and curriculum based or criterion referenced assessments; and
  4. Formal evaluation, e.g. vocational assessments or other standardized instruments.

As with any assessment plan, a transitional assessment plan should be tailored to meet the individual needs of the child.  DESE recommends that Teams consider using a question-driven process to determine who the student is, who they want to be and what is needed for each individual in light of educational, employment and living plans after he/ she exits from high school.

The advisory also reminds schools that the transition plan is part of the annual IEP and may change over time.  Transition assessments can be fluid as well in response to changing conditions, interests and the overall development of the student. As with any element of an educational program, transition planning should be documented as well as the transition assessments that have been completed.  Transition assessments can be included with other key evaluation results in summary format.

School administrators and staff responsible for transition planning are encouraged to review the Advisory in full here.