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Transition Portfolios

by Mary Mazzoni on March 14, 2012

Planning for life after IEPs is complex. It’s an ongoing multi-year process that involves every aspect of our child’s life.

So much information to sort through!

What steps to take now? What info to save? How to organize it all?

The answer? A transition portfolio.

There are no “one-size-fits-all” transition portfolios. Just as there are no “one-size-fits-all” IEPs. But let’s look at some examples. With your support, your child can customize a transition portfolio that meets his or her needs.

Form and function

Let’s consider two primary functions of a transition portfolio:

  • Guiding transition planning through prompts and questions
  • Organizing necessary information and documents

Some of the samples we’ll look at today serve one or the other of these functions in great detail. Other samples address both functions in a more general way.

You’ll also notice that some of the portfolios focus on one particular transition goal – like employment or postsecondary education. Others are more holistic, considering every aspect of a young persons’ life.

Transition portfolios can take various forms. A binder can be used, including written forms, graphic organizers and/or pictures divided into various topical sections. Electronic portfolios provide templates into which information can be typed, saved, and either emailed or posted on a website. Short video portfolios can be produced, showcasing our child’s skills, goals and experience to employers, agency or school staff.

When choosing a format, consider who will be receiving and using the information, and how it can be presented to that audience most effectively.

Transition planning portfolios

Planning portfolios prompt you and your teen to consider important transition questions and action steps. And help you save and organize relevant information for use throughout the transition process.

Formats and the depth and breadth of content vary widely among these examples. When agency resources are referenced, they are specific to the state in which the tool was produced. Contact your child’s special education teacher or your local Center for Independent Living for local agency contact information.

Choose the planning portfolio that best meets your teen’s needs.

1.   Where Am I Going? How Will I Get There? (Statewide Independent Living Council of Hawaii) Download PDF here. This is a lengthy document to be completed bit by bit over time. There’s a table of contents and a collection of forms that ask your teen to consider preferences, strengths and goals in all areas of life. You’ll need to print the pages to complete the forms, and then organize the pages in a sectioned binder.

2.   Renew Youth Portfolio (Institute on Disability, University of New Hampshire) Download PDF here. This document is much less detailed. A series of helpful graphic organizers help youth identify their priorities, strengths, needs and supports, as well as set goals and make specific plans to achieve them. Though designed for students with mental health and behavioral needs, it is helpful for any student. Pages must be printed to be completed and then organized in a binder.

3.   Electronic Transition Portfolio Resource (Shenandoah Valley Regional Center) Click here to access. This is a detailed tool, to be completed over time. It guides transition planning by prompting youth to consider questions and action steps for employment, postsecondary education and community living. Youth can type right into the checklists and questionnaires and they can be saved and revised electronically and emailed.

4.   Electronic Transition Portfolio (Spokane Public Schools) Click here to access. A less detailed electronic tool using electronic templates and worksheets. Students can type right on the forms, save and revise them and email them. Primary focus is planning for employment, other areas of transition planning are not addressed.  The “How to Use This Resource” section is helpful.

5.  Listen to Me (USARC/PACE) Download PDF here.  This workbook is designed to support young people with limited communication skills. Ideally, it’s completed over time with the assistance of a  circle of support. It helps to document a young persons’ preferences, priorities, needs and current supports.

6.  Me and My Life (Brighton & Hove, UK) Download PDF of Process Guidelines here. Download PDF of Graphic Organizer/Poster here. Download PDF of Illustrated Outline here. Me and My Life is a person-centered planning tool that supports a person with limited communication skills to document interests and goals in all areas of life. The tool is designed to be completed over time with the help of a circle of support. Begin by reviewing the process guidelines. The charts in the illustrated outline can be used to document answers to the planning questions. The poster an be used as a graphic outline of main ideas in each area.

Documentation portfolios

Documentation portfolios are a way to store and organize necessary documents and information.

1.  Financial, Legal and Medical Documentation Portfolio – “Footprints” (Down Syndrome Society) Download here.  This pdf document is a way to organize information about insurance, benefits, financial and legal details.

2. Postsecondary Education Documentation Portfolio (Going-to-College. org) Access here. Students will need a binder to store documents. This portfolio is meant to be used in conjunction with the High School To-Do Lists (Access here).

3. Transition to Employment Portfolios

 a. Personal Data Wizard click here for more information

b. How to Create A Winning Video Resume (California Deaf-Blind Services) Download here. For any student with limited communication skills, a video resume is an excellent alternative to an interview. Footage of the young person doing job tasks, with narration and written summary of experience communicates the value the applicant can add to the company.

c. Sample video resume (MECA PAAL program) View here. (Note – the resume begins with “My name is…” – the “Autism Works” intro and ending is for training purposes and wouldn’t be included in an actual resume).

d. Representational Portfolios (University of Montana) Download article here and worksheet here. A study involving 250 employers yielded overwhelmingly positive response to this type of portfolio when young people with significant communication challenges interviewed for jobs. The photos highlight the applicant’s skills and the value s/he can bring to the company.

So many choices!

Not sure which portfolio is best for your child’s needs? Got questions? Send me an email (click the white envelope under “Follow us”, or leave a comment below.

Have you used any of these portfolios, or others? Please leave a comment and share your experience. We’ll all benefit!

If you found this post helpful, please share it. Thanks!

Photo credit: TheDigitel Myrtle Beach at Flickr

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Lyn June 15, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Looks like a great site.


Mary Mazzoni June 23, 2012 at 9:58 am

Thanks, Lyn! It means a lot to me that you took time to leave a comment. Glad you find the resources helpful. Best wishes on the journey and please connect again!


Jacki March 20, 2013 at 7:57 am

Mary – this looks great! I’ll be sharing with Transition Network today!


Dave Knapp September 18, 2013 at 9:52 am

Great site for secondary transition. Lots of resources to assist students and document compliance.


Mary Mazzoni September 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Thanks for your encouraging comment, Dave. Glad you find the resources helpful. It’s all about supporting kids as they plan for their future! All the best!


Everett November 13, 2013 at 3:31 pm

This is awesome! You may already know this, but your blog was used in my grad class at GWU. Small world huh? Awesome stuff as always my friend. See you soon! Thanks for all your help with the curriculum meeting the other day :)


Mary Mazzoni November 16, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Yes! It is a small world, Everett! Glad you find the blog to be helpful. Thanks for taking time to share such an encouraging comment! PA Youth Leadership Network (PYLN) is featured prominently in many posts on the blog. I’m so grateful for PYLN. Thanks for your leadership!


Kaye Smith May 25, 2014 at 7:19 am

Thank you so much for sharing these Portfolio examples. They will be very helpful to reference as I have my students create theirs. This is exactly the support I have been looking for. I will be sharing this site with my colleagues.


Mary Mazzoni June 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I’m so glad you find this post helpful, Kaye. Thanks for taking time to write a comment. Especially – thank you for your dedication and hard work supporting students as they plan for their transition! All the best to you, your students, and your colleagues!


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