Transitions Integration Framework (TIF)

The Transitions Integration Framework (TIF) was designed to provide guidance to adult basic education (ABE) programs and instructors on the effective integration of transitions skills into instruction at all levels of ABE, including ESL levels.

ATLAS - Adult Basic Education Teaching and Learning Advancement System
Compiled by Lia Conklin Olson
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation
ATLAS - Adult Basic Education Teaching and Learning Advancement System, at Hamline University
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The Transitions Integration Framework (TIF) was designed to provide guidance to adult basic education (ABE) programs and instructors on the effective integration of transitions skills into instruction at all levels of ABE, including ESL levels. The TIF defines the academic, career, and employability skills essential for adult learners to transition successfully to postsecondary education, career training, the workplace; and to enrich community involvement. Furthermore, the use of this document to guide ABE instruction is intended to help meet the needs of stakeholders in postsecondary education, the workplace, and community-based organizations.

Developed in Minnesota via a research-based, rigorous, collaborative, multiyear process, the TIF is the collection of essential skills adult educators need to integrate into their instruction  for their learners to reach their long-term goals, whatever they may be.

Categories: The Transitions Integration Framework (TIF) is divided into eight skills categories:

  1. Effective Communication (EC)
  2. Learning Strategies (LS)
  3. Academic Language & Skills (ALS)
  4. Numeracy (N)
  5. Critical Thinking (CT)
  6. Self-Management (SM)
  7. Developing a Future Pathway (DFP)
  8. Navigating Systems (NS)

Skills: Under each category, several related skills are defined in broad terms. The acronym SWBAT, Students Will Be Able To, precedes each skill, followed by a description of what the performance of that skill looks like.

Subskills: These broader skills in turn are broken down into discrete subskills, specifically defining what it is learners will be able to do, as prefaced by SWBAT.

Sample Activities: For each skill included in the TIF, sample activities are provided for two selected subskills. These sample activities are presented in chart form beneath the full listing of subskills.

The Transitions Integration Framework is a very comprehensive document, so teachers will benefit from exploring it incrementally and may wish to enlist a partner or small group of colleagues to delve deeply into this work. Also available at the same Web site,, is the TIF-at-a-Glance, a shortened version of the full TIF that is useful for teachers to become acquainted with the document and its basic categories and format.

Teachers will benefit from the TIF as a means to think about how transitions skills are already at play in their classrooms and what might be enhanced to hone their “transitions-lens” and to help students reach their goals more efficiently. Professional developers have an array of options with this comprehensive document. The TIF can be used to conduct professional learning communities(PLCs). Some developed PLC materials are also available at, or it can provide content for specific workshops to build a transitions-disposition, such as Critical Thinking or Academic Language.

Required Training

None, but teachers new to teaching with a transitions lens may need guidance in embedding these transitions skills into current curricula and lessons.

What the experts say

The Transitions Integration Framework is a powerful document. It brings together the language, literacy, digital literacy, academic, and soft skills that adult learners need for employability and success in their communities and careers. Beyond the comprehensive listing of skills and subskills, the TIF offers sample activities across a range of levels that teachers can put to immediate use in their classrooms.

Key features:

The TIF represents important shifts in practice for adult educators, and both ESL and non-ESL teachers who work with ABE will find it extremely valuable. Program administrators and professional developers would do well to put this document and collaborative exploration of these skills into the hands of adult educators. Growing attention to the eight TIF categories illustrates a shift in adult education to increased rigor, and the TIF provides a clearly laid out framework that builds teachers’ dispositions for integrating college and career readiness from beginning to advanced learners.

It should be noted that the TIF is NOT a curriculum or a set of standards to follow. It is a comprehensive, well-organized collection of the skills and subskills needed for success in college, careers, and deeper community involvement. By intentionally working to integrate these skills into existing curricula, teachers can respond to their students’ long-term goals at every level of instruction.  

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