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Types of Assessment

COVID-19 and Special Education

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COVID-19 resources for special education

There are four main categories of assessments that can be used to guide the transition process: screening, progress monitoring, diagnostic, and outcome. Assessment for outcome data will not be discussed in this module because it relates to the Indicator 14 data collection currently completed by the Colorado Department of Education.


Assessments used for screening efficiently measure overall ability and critical skills. Screening data:

  • identify students’ strengths, preferences, and interests
  • provide a first alert for students who will need extra help
  • identify students who might need additional assessment
  • shape student goals and objectives, course of study, and transition services

Progress Monitoring

Assessments used for progress monitoring are given periodically to determine student progress and are ongoing. Progress monitoring data:

  • systematically monitor progress
  • determine if instruction/services are effective or if they need to be changed
  • identify students who might need additional assessment
  • highlight if a gap exists between student goals and current achievement
  • shape student goals and objectives, course of study, and transition services


Diagnostic assessments provide more in-depth, individualized information and are usually administered individually. Diagnostic assessments:

  • identify current levels of transition skills, which can include self-determination, employability skills, work skills, work habits, academic achievement, behavior, etc.
  • provide more specific information so that intervention/instruction can be developed and implemented for the individual student
  • shape student goals and objectives, course of study, and transition services

Information collected from any type of assessment can be used for multiple purposes. For example, diagnostic assessment data, previously administered within the current year, could be reviewed to screen for students’ strengths and needs or identify if additional assessment should be administered. The same diagnostic tool might also be used to systematically monitor progress to determine if any achievement gaps are closing and what next steps need to be taken. The use of screening, progress monitoring, and diagnostic assessment will build upon on the information gleaned from a variety of sources to include anecdotal observations and reports, previous assessment data and IEP meeting outcomes, etc.

Additionally, the four categories of assessments used to guide the transition process include formal and informal assessments. Formal assessments are standardized instruments that include descriptions of their norming process, reliability and validity, and recommended uses. Informal assessments, although lacking a formal norming process and reliability or validity information, can provide useful information on students’ strengths, preferences, interests, and needs. 
Assessments provide individualized information on academic achievement, self-determination, employability skills, behavior, work skills and habits, interests and preferences, adaptive functioning, communication skills, aptitude, etc.

*View the NSTTAC Age Appropriate Transition Assessment Toolkit for a more in depth description of specific transition assessments:

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