NORMAN, OKLA. – The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act mandates that transition planning for students with disabilities begins by the time a student is 16 years old. To comply, educational institutions help students with disabilities develop plans for their future based off assessments of high school readiness and postschool success. However, many educational institutions begin transition planning earlier than the federally required age despite a lack of existing transition assessment for middle school students with disabilities.
Kendra Williams-Diehm, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education professor and the director of the Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment at the University of Oklahoma, has received a nearly $2 million grant from the Institute of Education Sciences with the U.S. Department of Education to build a transition assessment tool specific to middle school students with disabilities.
For this project, Williams-Diehm, with associate professor Maeghan Hennessey and research assistant professor Malarie Deardorff, are building on a “Transition Assessment and Goal Generator” developed at the Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment in 2012.
“A middle school transition assessment with ample validity and reliability evidence supporting its use in transition planning is needed,” Williams-Diehm said. “The Transition Assessment and Goal Generator-Middle School will assess skills and experiences related to high school readiness and postschool success and be designed for middle school students with a disability who ultimately desire to be competitively employed or attend further education following high school.”
“It is so exciting to have an entire assessment suite that can reach all students with disabilities of transition age (typically defined as secondary years),” she added. “This assessment it critical because it will lay the foundation of transition planning for students at the middle school level.”
The four-year project began in August and runs through July 2025. More information about the grant is available via the Institute for Education Sciences.