Transition Time Using Transition Assessment Data to Design Transition Services

by Debbie Grosser, M.Ed., and Dale Pennell, C.A.S.

This is the fourth in a four-part Link Lines series. Part I (September/October 2007) defined and clarified the purpose of transition assessment and identified the scope of data to be collected. Part II (November/December 2007) provided guidelines for summarizing the assessment data in the PLOP. Part III (January/February 2008) described a process for developing postsecondary goals based upon the results of age-appropriate transition assessment data.

Requirement to Provide Transition Services

Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16 and then updated annually thereafter, the IEP must include ...

Transition services needed to assist the child in reaching those goals, including courses of study [§614(d)(1)(A)VIII]

Courses of studies represent long-range plans for ensuring students have access to the coursework and other educational experiences they need if they are to be adequately prepared for adult life (Storms, O'Leary, & Williams, 2000). A major reason why students drop out of high school is that they do not see the relevance and importance of the coursework they are taking (Bridgeland, Dilulio, & Morrison, 2006). The more specific that IEP teams can be in using transition assessment data to identify coursework that directly relates to students' postsecondary goals, the more likely students are to be motivated to complete their education.

Just as courses of study provide educational plans that lead students through secondary school, transition activities lead students through the process of preparing for adult life. Individualized education program (IEP) teams must consider assessed needs in all seven domains of transition planning (see Jan/Feb 2008 Link Lines Transition Time article) and design transition activities that address these needs. Part C of the definition of transition services identifies seven kinds of transition activities IEP teams may plan to help students prepare for life following high school.

Definition of Transition Services

(34) TRANSITION SERVICES: The term "transition services" means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability ...

(C) includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation [§602(34)(A)]

A description of these seven kinds of activities and an example of each follows.

  1. Instruction - Activities that provide explicit instruction in knowledge and skills students must acquire to be ready to pursue their postsecondary goals

    Data: Student does not demonstrate skill in being interviewed for a job.

    Activity: Provide direct instruction in the job interview process.

  2. Related Services - Activities that empower students to access appropriate related services as adults, generally related services they receive during their high school years

    Data: Student fears living away from home as an adult.

    Activity: Engage in family counseling to assist in eventual transition to a group home.

  3. Community Experiences - Educational opportunities provided in the community that prepare students to participate in community life

    Data: Student lacks knowledge of disability services offered at the college he will attend.

    Activity: Visit the disability services office at the college the student will attend to interview a counselor.

  4. Employment - Activities that focus on developing work-related behaviors, job-seeking and job-keeping skills, career exploration, skill training, apprenticeship training, and actual employment

    Data: Student has not been referred to Department of Rehabilitative Services (DRS).

    Activity: Refer student to DRS for eligibility determination.

  5. Adult Living - Activities that focus on adult living skills, generally activities that are done once or occasionally

    Data: Student does not have a driver's license.

    Activity: Complete behind-the-wheel driver's training from a private vendor during the coming summer.

  6. Daily Living Skills - Activities that adults do almost every day

    Data: Student has difficulty arriving for events in a timely manner.

    Activity: Use a wristwatch with an alarm to manage personal schedule.

  7. Functional Vocational Evaluation - An assessment process that provides information about career interests, aptitudes, and skills

    Data: The IEP team lacks data related to student's strengths in an area of interest/preference.

    Activity: Participate in a PERT evaluation at Woodrow Wilson Rehabilitation Center.

    (Adapted from O'Leary, 2003)

Meaningful use of transition assessment data will result in unified sets of plans designed to enable students to realize their postsecondary goals.


Bridgeland, J. M., Dilulio, J. J., & Morrison, K. B. (2006, March). The silent epidemic: Perspectives of high school dropouts. Washington, DC: Civic Enterprises, LLC, in association with Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

O'Leary, E. (2003, June). Virginia department of education: Transition outcomes project.
Presentation at the Special Education Directors Council meeting of the Department of Education, Richmond, VA.

Storms, J., O'Leary, E., & Williams, J. (2000). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 1997 transition requirements: A guide for states, districts, schools, universities and families. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota. The College of Education & Human Development. U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education Programs.

Date: May/June 2008