Helping Students Prepare for Their Future

Helping Students Prepare for Their Future Sonja Chatfield-Peetz

Supporting files

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The Division on Career Development and Transition (DCDT) of the Council for Exceptional Children defines transition assessment as an “…ongoing process of collecting data on the individual’s needs, preferences, and interests as they relate to the demands of current and future working, educational, living, and personal and social environments. Assessment data serve as the common thread in the transition process and form the basis for defining goals and services to be included in the Individualized Education Program (IEP)” (Sitlington, Neubert, & LeConte, 1997; p. 70-71). Federal law requires “appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills” (§300.320[b][1]).

     The goal of transition assessment is to assist students, families, and professionals as they make transition-planning decisions for student success in postsecondary environments (Sitlington & Clark, 2007; Sitlington & Payne). Sitlington and Clark suggest that transition assessment should answer three basic questions:

1. Where is the student presently?

2. Where is the student going?

3. How does the student get there?

 Why Conduct Transition Assessments?

     Transition assessments may be given for several reasons. These reasons include: (a) to develop postsecondary goals, and related transition services and annual goals and objectives for the transition component of the IEP), (b) to make instructional programming decisions, and (c) to include information in the present level of performance related to a student’s interests, preferences, and needs in the IEP. Transition assessment is an excellent way to learn about your individual students, especially their strengths outside of academics and career ambitions (Kortering, Sitlington, & Braziel, 2010). 

Preparing For the Future with Adult Service Providers

     The school will have certain information to share with the provider, including the most recent Individualized Education Plan (IEP), Summary of Performance (SOP) etc., but this may not give the complete picture of the individual that is necessary to get adult services off to a good start. The purpose of the “Stepping into the Future” packet is to provide practical information regarding the young adult that can be used by the adult agency provider as the individual prepares to enter adult services.  

     While the document is not meant to replace valuable school information, it should be considered as a valuable addition of information sharing. Topics of sharing are: Identifying Information, Medical Information and Social/Behavioral Information.  While this brief five-page checklist is not all-inclusive, it gives information to adult service providers that a school may not think to have included on the IEP.

To access and download a PDF version of this document please click on STEPS document on the right side of the page  or visit and click on the word “STEPS” August 2012. 

For other excellent transition planning resources, please visit the Transition Website of the NDE Office of Special Education at


Kortering, L., Sitlington, P. & Braziel, P. (2010). Age appropriate transition assessment as a strategic intervention to help keep youths with emotional or behavioral disorders in school. In D. Cheney (Ed.) Transition of Students with Emotional or Behavior Disorders: Current approaches for positive outcomes (2nd Edition). Arlington, VA: Council for Children with Behavior Disorders and Division on Career Development and Transition.

Sitlington, P.L, Neubert, D.A., Begun, W.H., Lombard, R.C., & Lecconte, P.J. (2007). Assess for success: A practitioner’s handbook on transition assessment (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Sitlington, P. L., Neubert, D. A., & Leconte, P. J. (1997). Transition assessment: The position of the Division on Career Development and Transition. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 20, 69-79.