EEC Functional Transition Assessment Process

EEC Functional Transition Assessment Process

EEC Functional Transition Assessment Process

The Education Evaluation Center has developed a Functional Transition Assessment Process for youths with disabilities to serve as a guide when developing individual transition assessment plans. The resulting manual and all forms used in this assessment process are available at: Functional Assessment in Transition and Rehabilitation for Adolescents and Adults with Learning Disorders, Pro-Ed, 8700 Shoal Creek Boulevard, Austin, Texas 78757-6897.


Assessments Must Be Student Centered:

IDEA specifically states: The transition component of the IEP "must be based on the individual student's needs, taking into account the student's preferences and interests."

  • Student centered transition planning must be based upon an individual's awareness of his or her present level of functioning, a personal vision for the future, and knowing what must be done to get where he or she wants to be.
  • Assessments are most meaningful when they relate the personal attributes of the student to the demands of the environment they wish to transition into.
  • Data that is gathered through assessment activities must be made available to the student in a context that is readily understood by the student.

Assessments Are Question Driven:

The Education Evaluation Center (EEC) asks the student, parents, special education teacher, vocational specialists, case manager, and any other involved school staff to complete a FUNCTIONAL ASSESSMENT REQUEST form in order to determine all of the transition concerns and questions.

  • There is no standard battery of tests for a functional transition assessment.
  • Assessments focus on the information needed to pursue the student's transition goals.
    • What skills do potential jobs, education, living arrangements, etc. require?
    • What community and/or job supports are needed or are available?
    • What are the student's current transition skill levels?

Assessments Involve a Team Effort:

  • Assessment must be a shared responsibility, a team effort based on the student's transition goals and the referral questions.
  • Assessment activities are not the responsibility of the special ed teacher alone, even though they are usually the case manager for the assessment process.
  • Traditionally, students and parents have not been invited to contribute to the assessment process, or participate in joint decision making. Invite their participation and contributions!


File Review

  • Test scores, Observations, IEP
  • Agency records (VRD, Mental Health)
  • Medical Records
  • Vocational Program records
  • Portfolio

Parent Information Form:

The EEC has developed a history form to gather information on the student's birth and development, medical history, family structure, behaviors, schooling history, and parent concerns.

School Information Form:

The EEC has developed a form to gather not only recent testing information, but detailed information on present levels of performance and behaviors in all of the student's academic courses.

Interview with Participant

  • Work experiences
  • Hobbies
  • Volunteer work
  • Future goals
  • Handicapping condition
  • Perceived strengths/weaknesses, and adaptations and modifications needs.
  • Expectations for assessment (what do they want to get out of it?)

Interviews with Others:

Obtain information on how well a student functions in both academic and non-academic settings. This may include formal rating scales and checklists. Determine the goals and expectations of family and others.

  • Family
  • Teachers, Aides
  • Vocational Specialist, Employers


Functional Assessment Checklist:

The EEC has developed an assessment checklist to be completed at the initial assessment staffing meeting to assist in clarifying roles and responsibilities. The special education teacher should not be responsible for all of the assessment activities. The student, parents, regular educators, testing specialists, speech and language specialists, vocational specialists, and any others involved in the student's transition should be assigned tasks as the assessment activities are discussed and planned.

Determine Necessary Psychometric Tests: If the student is transitioning to a postsecondary school, current IQ and academic scores will be needed. Academic levels are also helpful in determining potential levels of independence in community settings, and accommodation and modification needs.

  • Cognitive
  • Academic

Determine Additional Areas of Concern

  • Social/Emotional
  • Speech and Language/Communication
  • Processing Speed
  • Attention Deficits

Determine Transition/Vocational Assessment Needs: Transition assessment components should vary according to the interests, needs, and skill level of the individual student. Below is a list of many of the assessment tools that the EEC selects from when determining assessment components.


Interest tests are selected on the basis of:

  • Cognitive level and/or reading level
  • Self-awareness, motivation
  • Knowledge of world of work, job experiences, hobbies, interests
  • Post school plans

Formal Interest Tests

  1. Harrington-O'Shea Career Decision-Making System Revised (CDM) 
    Level 1 is 4th grade reading level, simpler format, more exploratory. 
    Level 2 is about 6th grade reading level. Good discussion tool, identifies career clusters and types of jobs for further exploration. Career Clusters based on U.S. DOT: Crafts, The Arts, Business, Scientific, Social, Office Operations. Audio tape available.
  2. Reading-Free Vocational Interest Inventory (Becker) - 
    Pictorial for non-readers; male-female stereotypes. 
    Identifies Job Cluster Groups: Automotive, Building Trades, Clerical, Animal Care, Food Service, Patient Care, Horticulture, Housekeeping, Personal Service, Laundry Service, Materials Handling.
  3. California Occupational Preference System (COPS)-(Edits)- 
    Reading level above 8th grade. Provides a lengthy printout of specific jobs which may or may not be available in this region, and may not match student's post-secondary goals. 
    Job Cluster Groups: Science, Technology, Consumer Economics, Outdoor, Business, Clerical, Communication, Arts, Service.

Alternatives to Formal Testing

  • Career exploration, career research, interviewing and observing.
  • Work experience, job shadowing
  • Person Centered Planning activities.

There are several Person Centered Planning tools available to assist students in assessing their strengths and interests, to plan, and to implement plans. For more information about Person Centered Planning vist the Cornell University Website at or conduct an internet search to locate PCP in your region.

A Good Experiences activity can be conducted with student, family, friends, school staff, and/or vocational staff. These activities are short, informal, and involve a small number of people.


The definition of aptitude is a natural or acquired ability or talent. Students may have an interest in certain types of job tasks, but have not had experience or practice in the specific activity contained in a formal aptitude test. Therefore, formal aptitude test scores should not be the basis for eliminating a student's career choice, but used as a tool for exploring options. Aptitudes may also be obtained from previous or current assessments and/or observation information.

Common Aptitude Areas

  • General Learning/Academic Ability
  • Verbal - Auditory Processing/Perception
  • Numerical
  • Spatial Relations
  • Form Perception - Visual Processing
  • Clerical Perception - Processing Speed
  • Motor Coordination - Eye-hand
  • Finger Dexterity
  • Manual Dexterity

Formal Aptitude Tests

  • Differential Aptitude Test (DAT) (The Psychological Corp);
    Designed for grades 8-12. Can give one or all of the subtests: Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, Abstract Reasoning, Perceptual Speed and Accuracy, Mechanical Reasoning, Space Relations, Spelling, Language Usage, Scholastic Aptitude.
  • General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB) 
    Used by VRD and employment agencies. Subtests include; General Learning Ability, Verbal Aptitude, Numerical Aptitude, Spatial Aptitude, Form Perception, Clerical Perception, Motor Coordination, Finger Dexterity, Manual Dexterity.
  • Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB)
    Only available through the armed services. Given to students ages 16 to 23 as part of the application to armed services. Subtest composites include: Academic Ability, Verbal Skills, Math Skills, Mechanical and Crafts Skills, Business and Clerical Skills, Electronics and Electrical Skills, Health, Social and Technology Skills. This test requires a minimum of 6th grade academic skills, and no adaptations or modifications are provided.

Psychometric Tests Providing Aptitude Information

  • Woodcock-Johnson Psycho-Educational Battery-III (WJ-III)
    Cognitive subtests such as Spatial Relations, Visual Processing, Processing Speed, Visual Matching, Auditory Processing, Short-term Memory, Long-term Retrieval, Fluid Reasoning
  • Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale-III (WAIS-III) 
    The subtests Comprehension, Information, Vocabulary, and Similarities provide the best predictor of employment transition success. Performance subtests such as Digit Symbol, Picture Arrangement, and Picture Completion can indicate aptitude for performance oriented careers.

When formal aptitude tests may not be necessary:

  • If time constraints are stressful for participant; most aptitude tests are timed.
  • If previous test scores are low in visual and performance areas.
  • If aptitudes are indicated by scores on mental ability tests.
  • If classroom work, employment, and/or leisure skills already demonstrate aptitude strengths and weaknesses.


Transition Rating Scales

  • Enderle-Severson Transition Rating Scale 
    Completed by parent. Transition areas include; Jobs and Job Training, Recreation and Leisure, Home Living, Community Participation, and Post Secondary Training. This instrument is a valuable "counseling" tool to help parents understand the meaning of transition skills and help them identify activities that they can teach their child at home.
  • The Arc's Self-Determination Scale (Wehmeyer) 
    Completed by student. Can be given to group. Written at 4th grade level, can be administered and answered orally. Designed for LD and mildly MR. Domains include; Autonomy, Self-Regulation, Psychological Empowerment, and Self-Realization.
  • Scales of Independent Behavior-Revised (SIB-R) (Bruininks, Woodcock, Weatherman & Hill) 
    In-depth interview of parent. Clusters: Motor skills, Social Interaction and Communication Skills, Personal Living Skills, Community Living Skills. Short form used as screening tool. Also contains a Problem Behavior Scale. A helpful tool when parents need assistance identifying the extent of their child's disability.

Transition Skill Knowledge Assessment Instruments

  • Brigance Diagnostic Employability Skills Inventory 
    Designed for use with high school and adult learners. Includes teaching objectives. Includes a Quick-Screen Tool. Assessment areas include; Reading Grade Placement, Carer Awareness and Self-understanding, Job-seeking Skills and Knowledge, Rating Scales, Reading Skills, Speaking and Listening Skills, Preemployment Writing, and Math Skills and Concepts.
  • Brigance Diagnostic Life Skills Inventory 
    Designed for use with high school and adult learners. Includes objectives. Includes a Quick-Screen Tool. Assessment areas include; Speaking and Listening Skills, Functional Writing Skills, Words on Common Signs and Warning Labels, Telephone Skills, Money and Finance, Food, Clothing, Health, Travel and Transportation, and Rating Scales.
  • Brigance Diagnostic Inventory of Essential Skills 
    Designed for use with high school and adult learners. Includes objectives. Assessment areas include; Word Recognition Grade Placement, Oral Reading, Reading Comprehension, Functional word Recognition, Word Analysis, Reference Skills, Schedules and Graphs, Writing, Forms, Spelling, Math Grade Placement, Numbers, Number Facts, Computation of Whole Numbers, Fractions, Decimals, Percents, Measurement, Metrics, Math Vocabulary, Health and Safety, Vocational, Money and Finance, Travel and Transportation, Food and Clothing, and Oral Communication and Telephone Skills.
  • Kaufman Functional Academic Skills Test (K-FAST) 
    Normed for ages 15 to 85, all ability levels. Approx. 20 minutes. Reading subtest measures recognition and comprehension of signs and common written materials. Math subtest measures numerical reasoning, computation skills, and mathematical concepts used in everyday situations.
  • Social and Prevocational Information Battery-Revised (SPIB-R) 
    Normed in Oregon for mildly MR. Administered orally. Contains 9 subtests: Purchasing habits, Budgeting, Banking, Job related behavior, Job search skills, Home management, Health care, Hygiene and grooming, Functional signs.


Summarize Assessment Information

Determine Adaptation and Modification Needs based on strengths and weaknesses and learning/communication styles.

Evaluate Potential Job or Postsecondary School Programs identified by student:

The Education Evaluation Center has developed two environmental assessment instruments designed to provide a profile of the requirements and characteristics of the work or school settings in which individuals with disabilities could be placed, and to determine the possible adaptations and modifications available in that setting. Copies of these measures are contained in the Functional Assessment for Adolescents and Adults with Learning Disabilities manual edited by Dr. Michael Bullis, and available through Pro-Ed Publishing.

  • E-JAM -The Environmental Job Assessment Measure
  • E-SAM - The Environmental School Assessment Measure

Compare Skills and Goals:

The assessment team, including the student and parent, need to re-convene to share assessment information, brainstorm, and determine the next step.

  • May determine that more testing or information gathering is needed.
  • Student, parents, or teachers may need to reevaluate goals.
  • Service and program placement needs within school and the community should be identified.

Prepare a written summary or report of Functional Transition Skills Assessment.

Conduct a transition planning meeting to create a Transition Plan.

  • Invite community service providers such as VRD or Mental Health.
  • Include assessment team members and vocational specialists.
  • A Personal Futures Planning Meeting may be used to assist in planning.
(Compiled by Julie Bulen, LD Specialist, Voc. Specialist at EEC)

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