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Transition Assessment Practices in Nevada and Arizona: Are They Tied to Best Practices?

by Colleen A. Thoma, Mary F. Held, and Sterling Saddler

Focus on Autism and other Developmental Disabilities, Winter 2002, V. 17, i 4, p.242 (9)


In this excellent paper the results of a research study conducted in two western states, Nevada and Arizona, investigated the special education knowledge in use of various transition assessment strategies. Eighty-four special educators responded to a survey on transition assessment that asked questions about what they knew about transition assessment strategies and which ones they used. Assessments were then divided into 3 categories: standardized, informal, and alternative. Questions were also asked about student roles in the transition assessment process and the use of various self-determination assessment and curriculum packages. Although most educators indicated that they were aware of all types of assessment strategies, they still relied heavily on those that were either standardized or teacher prepared.

This information is extremely important because in order to create a reliable Individual Transition Plan it is very essential to know that level a student is in terms of their needs. A well planned and executed assessment results in each team member having a well balanced understanding of the student's performance. One of the more important aspects of building a meaningful blueprint is to generate objectives which are relevant to the student's needs and wishes. In this study a particular focus was placed on such innovations as student self-determination, the emergence of the use of alternative assessments in expanding the transition definition to include transition to adult life.

The results of the study indicated that special educators did not use transition assessments strategies that have been demonstrated to support student's self-determination in the process such as person-centered planning, student led meetings, and self-determination and curriculum based instruments. More work is clearly needed to insure that teachers have access to and know how to use these strategies in their classrooms.