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Transition assessments can be formal and informal

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute & Justice Center of Southeast Massachusetts
Created February, 2022

Formal Assessments

Formal assessments are standardized tests, checklists, and surveys that show the skills your child has and the skills they need. Professionals give these tests. Formal assessments are things like:

  • Psychological testing: intelligence tests to assess cognitive performance.
  • Aptitude tests measure your child’s strengths and skills. For example, an aptitude test could show if your child has mechanical ability.
  • A career test that matches your child’s strengths and interests with possible jobs.
  • Adaptive behavior and independent living skills evaluation tests for the life skills your child already has or needs in order to live on their own.

Informal Assessments

Your child and the people in their life do the informal assessments.  Informal assessments include:

  • Self-evaluation.  Your child describes their own strengths  and skills they need help with.
  • Observation of your child
    • in the community. For example, taking public transportation, or buying items at a store. Or,
    • at work.

Based on the assessments the Team builds a transition plan.


The Team may fill out a “Transition Planning" form. But the form is only for planning.  The form is not part of the IEP. The school only has to follow the IEP. Make sure the Team puts everything your child needs from the Transitioning Planning form into the IEP.

The Team should consider:

  • your child's goals,
  • your child's skills, and
  • the services they need.

For example

Your child’s IEP could include a goal to go grocery shopping independently.

The skills they need is to create a shopping list and a budget. 

The services are in math and real world training in the community.

Your child should be taught as much as possible, in their community, with peers who do not have a disability,.

For example

Your child may be able to work at a job in the community with job coaching support. Or they may be able to take college classes with supports and services through the Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative

Some transition services are:

  • Internships or job opportunities.
  • Job coaching.
  • Travel training to learn to use public transportation or learning to drive.
  • Independent living skills coaching to learn how to use money and budget, go grocery shopping, do laundry, or make simple meals
  • Social skills coaching to learn how to communicate with employers, peers, and others in the community
  • Instruction for self-management of medical needs.
  • Therapeutic services to manage anxiety in real life social situations.
  • Coaching independent living skills to learn how to use money and budget, go grocery shopping, do laundry, or make simple meals.
  • Coaching Social skills to learn how to communicate with employers, peers, and others in the community.


If your child gets services from other agencies like the Department of Developmental Services (DDS) or Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), these agencies should also be invited to attend Team meetings.


            When your child turns 14 make sure their IEP starts to address skills your child will need to transition to life after high school.

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