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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Transition Assessment at NESCA: A Range of Options According to Your Needs


By Kelley Challen, M.Ed., CAS
Director of Transition Services

February 28, 2014

NESCA offers a wide range of transition assessment services, designed to identify and cultivate a student’s post-secondary living, social and vocational goals, and to determine his or her related strengths and needs. The aim of transition assessment is to identify skills and services necessary to ready the student for the transition from high school to the next phase of life.

NESCA’s transition assessment services are designed to meet the needs of students, families, schools and professionals. If you are uncertain as to which type is most appropriate given your circumstances, we suggest that you schedule a one-hour consultation with Kelley Challen, director of transition services.

Comprehensive Transition Assessment

NESCA’s comprehensive transition assessment is comprised of a series of tests, interviews, and questionnaires, as well as school, vocational, and/or community-based observations. The assessment typically consists of an intake session with the parent and the student, three to four hours of in-office assessment, two to three observations outside of the office (e.g., at school, at an internship site, in the community), and a feedback session.

Comprehensive transition assessments are conducted by a team, as we have found that when it comes to this type of assessment, “two sets of eyes are better than one.”

Best practice indicates that transition assessment should be thought of as a process conducted over a number of years beginning in middle school, rather than as a one-time evaluation.

However, in the event that this process has not taken place (which is not particularly unusual, given that the concept of transition assessment and planning is relatively new to many clinicians, families, and schools), students in their sophomore, junior, or senior years of high school might require a comprehensive transition assessment, in which the range of transition-readiness areas (e.g. learning profile, daily living skills, social skills, coping skills, pre-vocational skills) is necessarily assessed within a compressed timeframe. Typically, these types of transition assessments span a two to three-month period, from the initial intake session to the time the written report is finalized.

Individualized Community-Based Transition Assessment (ICBTA)
Developed in Conjunction with Sandra Storer, LICSW

The ICBTA is a person-centered and highly individualized, community-based assessment developed to address questions regarding transition readiness. In response to the student's articulated vision, this assessment includes observation in both the familiar and novel environment(s) in which they anticipate pursuing their post-secondary goals.

The ICBTA assesses key abilities for postsecondary life such as social communication, navigation, executive functioning, self-advocacy, self-determination, problem solving, stamina, and use of technology in real-world environments.

The flat rate fee for the ICBTA includes a document review, an intake, 2 hours of observation, and a written report with recommendations. Feedback sessions, additional observation hours, travel in excess of 2 hours, and participation in team meetings is available and will be billed separately. The ICBTA can be conducted in combination with a neuropsychological evaluation or as a stand-alone assessment.

Transition Assessment as Part of Short-Term Consultation

Short-term transition consultation is often appropriate for families or schools, who are looking to answer a specific question related to transition planning, are trying to decide whether ongoing planning and consultation services are appropriate for their needs, or want support revising the Transition Planning Form (TPF) and IEP to ensure that transition needs are being effectively addressed.

Short-term consultation generally involves record review, a one hour-long parent intake and two or three student intake and planning sessions. Formal and informal transition assessment tools are always incorporated into the process. Many families and schools find it useful to have a formal written report incorporating observations, assessment results and recommendations based on NESCA’s short-term consultation.

This type of consultation and report is especially useful for families or schools looking to start a Team conversation about transition planning and services.

Brief Transition Planning Assessment (BTPA)

The BTPA is an optional assessment that can be conducted as an adjunct to a neuropsychological evaluation at NESCA. The BTPA measures a student’s interests, preferences, needs and skills related to the demands of current and future social, living, educational, and work environments. Assessment typically involves an additional 90-minute student intake and testing session with a transition specialist as well as student, parent, and teacher questionnaires.

The BTPA can help to determine short- and long-term planning goals, identify needed services, support instructional programming decisions, provide information about present level of performance, and refine a student’s personal vision. Results and recommendations of the BTPA are incorporated into the report of neuropsychological evaluation.

School-Based Assessment Consultation

There are countless numbers of formal and informal measures to choose from when assessing a student’s current performance level and skill-building capacity. Moreover, a number of assessments are performed throughout the education process but may not be documented or credited as transition assessment. NESCA staff work in partnership with schools to evaluate current transition assessment practices and identify the best tools and strategies to support the needs of their student population.

Consultation may also include training in specific assessment tools and aligning transition assessment results with post-secondary and IEP goals and services.

Who provides transition assessment, planning and consultation at NESCA?

Kelley Challen, Ed.M., CAS is our Director of Transition Services. She has nearly a decade of experience facilitating social, life, and career skill development programs for transition-aged youth. Ms. Challen has special expertise in working with students with Asperger's Syndrome and related disabilities, but provides support to individuals with a wide range of needs.

Neuropsychologists Jason McCormick, Psy.D. and Kate DellaPorta, Psy.D. and Transition Specialist Sandy Storer, LICSW perform assessments in close coordination with Ms. Challen.

For more than a decade, Dr. McCormick has specialized in working with adolescents and young adults, particularly young men, with Asperger’s Syndrome, and is renowned in the field.

Ms. Storer specializes in working with adolescents with Asperger's Syndrome and performs community-based assessments.

Dr. DellaPorta addresses the emotional needs of students in transition through counseling psychotherapy and performs community-based assessments.

The nature and extent of their involvement are determined by the individual needs of each client.

Questions about any of NESCA’s transition assessment, planning, or consultation Services can be addressed to Kelley Challen at kchallen@nesca-newton.com, or by calling (617) 658-9800.

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