The following document was contributed by the Southern Westchester BOCES/ Hudson Valley Transition Coordination Site, who developed the guide to assist school staff with implementing a useful and informative Level 1 Vocational Evaluation process.

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Level 1 Career Assessment for Students with Disabilities: A Manual

 

School districts shall ensure that:

Students age 12 and those referred to special education for the first time who are age 12 and over, shall receive an assessment that includes a review of school records and teacher assessments and parent and student interviews to determine vocational skills aptitudes and interests. (8NYCRR 200.4 (viii))

Preface
I. Introduction
II. Overview
III. Directions for
III.A. The Student Interview
III.B. The Parent Interview
III.C. Educational Staff Report
III.D. Career Interest Information
III.E. Social Skills Review (Optional)
III.F. Annual Summary Sheet
IV. Distribution of Level 1 Forms
V.Appendix
Level 1 Career Assessment Timeline
Student Interview Form
Parent Interview Form (for direct contact)
Parent Interview Form (send home version)
Strength Based Assessment Form
Educational Staff Report
Annual Summary Sheet
Fact Sheet: Level 2 Career Assessment Information
Fact Sheet: Level 3 Career Assessment Information
Fact Sheet: Learning Standards for Career Development & Occupational Studies

Preface

Career assessment is a useful tool for educators and students. A properly performed career assessment ensures that a studentís interests and abilities are incorporated into the career decision making process. As a result, student success in an employment or post secondary setting is enhanced. A problem for many students who are classified as having a disability is that they do not have full access to the career assessment process. Another problem is that much of the information that traditional career assessment tools look for is already contained in the studentís file. The information exists; we are not asking the right questions.The Level 1 Career Assessment was introduced in New York State in 1989 and incorporated into New York State Part 200 Education regulations in 1993. The Level 1 Career Assessment, which is mandatory for all students who are classified, is the structured collection of information that begins in middle school. Besides asking work skills questions that may be answered by existing information in student files, the process obtains information from key individuals, especially the student. This team, consisting of students, families and schools can begin to examine educational program and career options. This can ensure that students are exposed to enough information to make a real career choice that meets the studentís needs, preferences and abilities.Level 2 and Level 3 Career Assessments are also available if further information is needed to make a career programming decision. Levels 2 and 3 are not strong>mandatory. A student should receive a Level 2 or Level 3 assessment only after a Level 1 has been performed and it is determined that the Level 1 did not provide sufficient information to make a decision. Additional information about Level 2 and Level 3 Career Assessment is contained in the appendix.

The Level 1 Career Assessment:

This manual has been compiled to provide the necessary information to make the Level 1 Career Assessment process a manageable one for the student, family and school.

I. Introduction

The manual contains information that will help school personnel participate in the Level 1 Career Assessment process. Since the school has daily contact with the students, participation by the school staff is critical in helping the students determine a direction, or outcome, from the educational process.This process is a team effort. The career assessment team should include (but not be limited to):

The focus of this process is to gather information through communication. If a single career abilities test or interview is equivalent to a snapshot of a studentís abilities and interests at a specific point in time, then, the Level 1 Career Assessment process is equivalent to a photo album. The team approach, performed over a period of time, provides a variety of snapshots that can tell us much more about a student than a single picture can. The team, working together over time, will be able to see the student from a variety of perspectives under a variety of conditions. The information may expose trends and themes about a studentís abilities rather than spelling out a specific career path. This broader based view will benefit both the student and the district by providing a clearer focus for the educational process.The purpose of this manual is to provide a structure that allows staff to easily perform the Level 1 Career Assessment. Section IV, Directions, goes through the elements of the Level 1 Career Assessment process and provides a highly structured who, what, when approach to each of the elements. The appendix includes additional materials and information to help organize the process. Forms and interviewerís guides are also included to provide a structure to obtain important information for career planning decisions. However, these forms and guides are not the focus of the process. Establishing clear lines of communication is the goal. Please feel free to make copies of these forms or modify them to meet your specific needs.

II. Overview

What is a Level 1 Career Assessment?

The Level 1 Career Assessment is:

When is the Level 1 Career assessment performed?

The Level 1 Career Assessment is performed when the student is in middle school (ages 12 - 13).

Why perform a Level 1 Career Assessment?

The Level 1 Career Assessment is a process that occurs over time for the purpose of:

What is a realistic outcome for a career programming decision?

A career programming decision may include, but not limited to, participation in the following:

Who should be given a Level 1 Career Assessment?

All students classified with a disability who are between the ages of 12.0 and 14.0 years of age as of September 1 of a given year will receive a Level 1 Career Assessment. First time students to special education over the age of 12 will also have a Level 1 performed regardless of their age.

Who should perform the Level 1 Career Assessment?

As mentioned in Section I, the Level 1 Career Assessment process is a team process. Each district is free to establish its own system. Many districts have the teacher who writes the IEP for a student manage the Level 1 Career Assessment process and ensure that activities are performed. The teacher is not the one who should be performing all the activities. The actual gathering of information can be performed by other team members. In all cases, the student and family should be communicating with someone with whom they are comfortable.

When Is the Information Due?

Information from the Level 1 Career Assessment should be included in the development of each student's IEP for the following school year. A timeline is included in the appendix that indicates which activities occur at each grade level.

III. Directions

The following pages contain directions and information about each element of the Level 1 Career Assessment process. Those elements are:

A - Student Interview

*B - Parent Questionnaire

*C - Educational Staff Reports

*D - Career Interest Information *

(* indicates an activity mandated by NYS Education Regulation 8NYCRR 200.4 (viii))

E - Social Skills Review

F - Annual Summary Sheet

The appendix of this manual contains forms, checklists and other information that can be useful when performing the Level 1 Career Assessment process.

III. A. The Student Interview (mandated)

Purpose

This one-on-one directed conversation with the student is used to:

  • find out what the studentís expectations are of the schooling process and how he/she perceives his/her future;provide a reality check through questions of factual information about the student;give an indication of how the student uses his/her local community and how he/she uses free time outside of the school environment;
  • provide the opportunity to the student to give direct input into the career assessment and decision making process.

Please Note:

  • The student interview is NOT a psychological test.
  • There is no right or wrong answer.

The Student Interview is the studentís perception of what he/she expects as a result of participating in the schooling process. It is also used to learn if there are other factors or resources in the studentís life that can be useful in learning about career choices.

Who should conduct the Student Interview?

The student interview is best performed by any staff member with whom the student is comfortable communicating. This can be the teacher, paraprofessional, bi-lingual staff member, clinician, counselor or anyone who has a good rapport with the student and can elicit honest responses from the student.

Conditions for the Student Interview

A quiet setting removed from distractions is obviously the most conducive in which to conduct the interview. To decrease the formality of the interview and to focus more on the student, the staff person may wish to ask the questions, elicit answers and record the studentís responses onto an audio cassette with the studentís permission. The interview can be transcribed onto the form after the interview.

After the interview

The final section of the Student Interview is the comments section. This is to be completed by the staff person who conducted the interview. This is a place to indicate any other information the student may have talked about that may be helpful to the process. The interviewer may comment here about the accuracy of the information given by the student and may give his/her opinion on the accuracy of the studentís perception of self and abilities. The interviewer completing this section should briefly explain his/her opinion.

Modifications to the interview process

The actual interview can be conducted in whatever fashion best fits the studentís abilities to communicate i.e.; several sessions, skipping sensitive questions, augmentative mode of communication, primary non-English language (if an interpreter is available).

Points to Remember

  • The interviewer should be someone with whom student is comfortable communicating.
  • This is not a test. It is a chance for the student to give direct input into the educational and Career Assessment process.

When (suggested)

The Student Interview should be completed during the first three months of the school year.

Paper Trail

The completed Student Interviews go into the studentís Career Assessment file, which is kept with the IEP documents in the classroom.

III.B. The Parent Interview (mandated)

Purpose

The Parent Interview provides parents (guardian or advocate) the opportunity to:

  • have direct input into the Career Assessment process and the future direction and outcome of their childís education;confront the reality that their child is growing up and becoming an adult who has choices and decisions to make;talk about non-school issues which may directly affect their childís ability to concentrate and learn in the school setting;provide information to the school about how they see their maturing child interacting with the home environment and the community;
  • become a resource in their childís educational and career determination process.

Who should conduct the Parent Interview?

The Parent Interview will generally be conducted by the teacher at the fall parent teacher meeting. But, any staff person, the teacher, clinician, bi-lingual staff, counselor, paraprofessional or anyone with whom the parent is comfortable communicating with may conduct the interview.

Conditions for the Parent Interview

The parent interview will generally be performed during the fall parent teacher meeting. Performing the interview at this time provides a forum for discussing the parentís long range expectations of the schooling process for their child. After examining the potential long-range outcomes, review of the current IEP can be done. Hopefully, the parent and teacher will be able to see how the IEP (short-range) fits into the long-range expectations discussed during the parent interview.

Parent Interview Forms

As with all aspects of the Level 1 Career Assessment process, establishing communication is the focus of the activity. The forms are provided to keep track of responses and to assist the staff by providing structure for an interview. The Parent Interview form has two formats. This provides several options in obtaining the parentís input.

1) Two Page Form

This is used when talking directly with the parent either in a face to face meeting or over the telephone. It provides more space for comments than the second alternative.

2) Single Page Form (send home version)

This form was designed to be sent home to the parent. It is self-explanatory and gives the parent the opportunity to rate their child. It does not provide much space for comments. Generally, this is used when the parent does not, or can not, come into school for a conference. To improve the possibility of a response, you may wish to enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope with the form.

Modifications

In a face-to-face meeting staff may choose to audiotape the interview and transcribe it later onto the form. IF AN AUDIOTAPE IS USED, PARENT PERMISSION MUST BE OBTAINED BEFORE THE INTERVIEW. If the parents show discomfort with some of the topics, the staff member may choose to re-phrase the question(s) or skip the question(s).

Be sensitive to multicultural perspectives. Feel free to rephrase questions or omit those that will harm the flow of information. The goal is to establish open lines of communication and obtain parent participation into the process.

Points to Remember

  • There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. Any information that helps the school to understand the studentís home environment and familyís value system is helpful. A parentís refusal to provide information may also prove to be a useful if it helps us to understand the student better.Be aware of multicultural differences. Where language or culture is a barrier, the meaning of the questions and answers may be misunderstood.
  • The career assessment process is meant to be informational, not confrontational.

When (suggested)

The parent-teacher conference in the fall is the ideal time to perform this activity. These conferences, if held, are usually completed within 30 school days after the start of school. For parents who do not participate in the fall parent-teacher conferences, a send home version (single page) of the parent interview should be used and returned as soon as possible.

Paper Trail

The completed Parent Questionnaire goes into the studentís career assessment file which is kept with the IEP documents in the classroom.

Note: The Strength Based Assessment form in the appendix may also be used for the parent interview and student interview since both participate in the process.

III.C. Educational Staff Report (mandated)

Purpose

The Educational Staff Report is a checklist that provides the opportunity for two (2) educational staff members per year who have regular contact with the student to:

  • give input about specific skills into the career assessment process;provide a snapshot of how the student functions in a particular environment i.e. physical education, shop, academic classes. This report helps to identify the type of environments or conditions in an environment that enable a student to thrive. It can also assist in identifying potential areas of interest or ability that the student may overlook.
  • review critical work skills in a variety of environments and conditions.

Over the two (2) year period of a Level 1 Career Assessment, there will be four (4) different snapshots of the student by staff. These snapshots taken in a variety of environments and with a number of persons allow the career assessment team to:

  • determine if there is consistency or discrepancy in a studentís behavior in different environments;
  • sort out the optimal conditions that motivate or bring out the best in a particular student.

Conditions for using the Educational Staff Report

Two staff persons who are familiar with the student will EACH fill out an Educational Staff Report during the school year.The staff should fill out only those sections or questions for which they can provide accurate information. IF A STAFF PERSON DOES NOT KNOW HOW A STUDENT PERFORMS IN A CERTAIN SKILL, HE/SHE SHOULD LEAVE IT BLANK. For example, a classroom teacher may not have enough information to fill in all of the Technology section

Staff members who filled out an Educational Staff Report on a student in a previous year should not fill out a form on the same student the next year. Over a two (2) year period, four (4) different staff (two each year) should fill out an Educational Staff Report on any one student.

Who should complete the Educational Staff Report?

The only criterion is that the staff member who fills out the form should be familiar with the student. Ideally, the staff members will represent a variety of curricular areas and environments. Staff members who could fill out the forms include but should not be limited to:

special education teacher(s)

mainstream teachers

physical education teacher

coaches from teams

therapists (OT, PT, speech)

club moderators

occupational education teachers

psychologists

social workers

paraprofessionals

guidance counselors

bi-lingual or ESL teacher

Points to Remember

Staff members need to respond only to those questions for which they can provide accurate information.

Responses should be based on observations of the student in the teaching environment and should reflect the studentís actual performance in that environment. If there is a big difference between the studentís performance and potential, a note should be written in the appropriate comments section.

When

The two (2) Educational Staff Reports should be completed before the studentís IEP is developed for the following school year.

Paper Trail

The completed Educational Staff Reports go into the studentís career assessment file which should be kept with the IEP documents in the classroom.

III.D. Career Interest Information (mandated)

Overview

While interest information is a required element of the Level 1 Career Assessment process, the use of interest inventories to obtain interest information is not a required element according to New York State Part 200 regulations.A structured approach to gaining interest information provides the school with information about the studentís base of experience. This is critical since students will make choices based upon what they know. If a studentís knowledge of the types of careers is limited, the choices and therefore the decision is limited. Knowledge about a studentís experience base will help the school make programming adjustments that broaden a studentís experience base. This can lead to a more informed choice by the student as he/she matures. The main premise is to use Interest Information tools to broaden a studentís choices, not to narrow them by pigeonholing the student into a limited array of options.

Also, the gathering of interest information over the two years allows staff to see trends in a studentís interests, especially when looked at with the other information gathered in the Level 1 Career Assessment. For example, a student may state unrealistic career choices or state grossly different choices each year, but, when looked at with the student interview, parent interview and the educational staff report, trends may be identified, e.g.; student shows consistent interest in areas that use technology.

Purpose

Every student has much information about what he/she likes or dislikes. The purpose of Interest Information tools is to:

  • provide a structure to discover the types of work and social situations about which a student would like to learn;
  • provide a structure to see if there is a pattern or trend to a studentís responses.

Format

There are three distinct methods to obtain interest information.

a. Expressed Interest

This is simply what the student says he/she is interested in. The Student Interview form addresses this method of determining student interest. If the student is not capable of expressing his/her interests or lacks a sufficient experience base to express a real interest, then information from the manifest interest or interest inventories will be used. Remember, students can only express interest about something they know. If the student has limited experiences, then their responses will be limited.

b. Manifest Interest

Manifest interests are determined by observing the students. What types of activities does a student choose to do when allowed to select? Observation of participation in hobbies or interest in a particular class or curricular area may give information about a studentís interest or strength. The Educational Staff Report and the Parent Questionnaire address this form of measuring student interest.

c. Interest Inventories

This is a series of questions that ask the student to choose between different types of activities. Since interest inventories involve self-reporting, they should be treated as subjective ratings, not test data.

Interest inventories are not appropriate for all students. These tools are most effective for students who:

  • have abstract reasoning ability; the ability to transfer experiences and information across environments. The type of reasoning ability that a student uses (abstract vs. concrete) is a function of a studentís learning style, not intelligence.
  • have had a variety of work/career related experiences. Students with few or no experiences will be hard pressed to express a preference.

A listing of common interest information instruments is included in the appendix. Different instruments are effective with different students. No one instrument will work for all students and not all students will benefit from using an interest inventory.

Who should conduct the collection of interest information?

If interest inventories are used to identify studentsí career interests, a staff person (i.e., teacher, guidance counselor, career evaluator) who is familiar with the administration and interpretation of these instruments should be responsible for this aspect of the Level 1 Career Assessment process. If manifest or expressed interests are used, then the individual who conducted that activity will be responsible. It is important to remember that the teacher may manage the process and ensure that activities are performed. The teacher is not the one who should be performing all the activities.

Conditions for obtaining interest information

Occupational interests can be somewhat difficult to measure, particularly, in an adolescent population where aspirations are frequently based on unrealistic perceptions, as well as being subject to constant change. Students with disabilities often have the added burden of having minimal exposure to occupational information and few experiences upon which to base decisions about possible jobs. For this reason, it is suggested that before attempting to assess interests, students should have opportunities to learn about different types of work through the use of field trips, audiovisual materials, guest speakers, community based and classroom activities.Interest inventories may not be appropriate for all students. Also, different interest instruments work better with some populations than others. A staff person who has vocational rehabilitation background may be helpful in determining which tool will yield the best information.

Those students for whom interest inventories are not used, the Parent Questionnaire, Student Interview and Educational Staff Report take on added importance as conveyors of interest information.

Modifications

To meet the particular needs of students, interest instruments may be modified including:

  • reading the questions to the student;completing in several sessions;
  • rephrasing questions for better understanding.

Points to remember

Interest inventories are not tests. They are the studentís own opinion of his/her interests and abilities. An interest inventory is a single snapshot in time.Interest inventories are not appropriate for all students. Interest information may be obtained from other sources (i.e., expressed interests or manifest interests).

Interest inventories, to be useful, usually require that the student be exposed to a broad range of careers and understands the basic information about those careers.

When (suggested)

The gathering of interest information should be completed by February. This will allow sufficient time to assimilate the results into the career programming decision-making process.

Paper Trail

The results of the interest information go into the studentís career assessment file which is kept with the IEP documents in the classroom.

III.E. Social Skills Review (optional)

A review of research data shows that approximately 80% of individuals with disabilities who lose jobs do so because of inappropriate social interactions at the workplace. This statistic also holds true for the non-disabled worker. Information from colleges indicates that students with academic ability and solid study skills who have poor social skills and are unable to become a part of the college life are more prone to drop out. All these situations require the use of basic interaction skills for success and growth.Task related skills can be adapted made or modified to assist learning or production. Social skills are less forgiving. Supervisors expect to be listened to and their directions followed. Interactions with co-workers and customers that disrupt the flow of business are not tolerated. At the college level, students who have special needs must be able to advocate for themselves to get needed services.For these reasons, knowledge of a studentís social skills is a critical factor in the career planning process. A studentís educational plan may need to be modified to address immature or inappropriate social skills. It is recommended that at some time during the Level 1 Career Assessment process, a social skills review be performed. An understanding of the social expectations of future adult environments, the workplace or college is critical in determining what behaviors and skills are beneficial or detrimental. In many districts, the psychologist will generally be responsible for the review of this information.

For CSE students, the IEP generally covers social skills data. This information, in conjunction with the triennial psychological should be sufficient to provide information about a studentís interpersonal skills

III.F. Annual Summary Sheet

Purpose

The Annual Summary Sheet is used to:

  • summarize the career assessment activities of the school year;document the career decision making process of the career assessment team;project a three (3) year outcome concerning each studentís career status;determine what activities will be performed the next school year to work towards the stated three (3) year outcome;
  • assist the transition services planning process which begins at age 15.

The completion of the Annual Summary sheet requires reviewing information from the following sources:

  • the Student InterviewParent QuestionnaireEducational Staff ReportsIEP dataOther documentation (i.e., Occupation Education reports) and
  • Information from the following, if used;

- interest information

- social skills review.

Who completes the Annual Summary Sheet?

The Annual Summary Sheet is completed by a multi-disciplinary team including the student and parent (when possible) and staff members who know the student.

When

The Annual Summary Sheet should be completed after the above information has been collected and before annual reviews of the IEP. A copy of the Annual Summary sheet is attached to the suggested IEP. The Annual Summary Sheet is the ONLY part of the Career Assessment process that is attached to the suggested IEP. The other pieces of information from the Career Assessment process are kept in the studentís career assessment folder.

Paper Trail

After this form is completed, copies are distributed as follows:

  • One (1) copy attached to the suggested IEP for the Annual Reviews;One (1) copy to the teacherís student IEP file;
  • One (1) copy to the main office student file ( if different from the teacher file).

IV. Distribution of Level 1 Forms

Where does the documentation go after the assessment activities are performed? The following is a suggested plan for keeping track of the information. We suggest establishing a career assessment/transition services folder for each student. This will make this information easier to find. Keep this folder with the studentís IEP.

FORM

COPIES

DISTRIBUTION

Student Interview

1

Career assessment folder with IEP

Parent Questionnaire

1

Career assessment folder with IEP

Educational Staff Reports

1 of each staff's report

Career assessment folder with IEP

Annual Summary Sheet

2-3 copies

1 attached to suggested IEP for Annual Review
1 to teacher career assessment/transition folder with IEP
1 to main office student file (if different from teacher file)

V. Appendix

Fact Sheet: Learning Standards for Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) -Intermediate level

Please note: The forms above are suggested. They may be used as is, modified to meet your needs or a district may use different forms all together. The critical issue is to make sure that the student, parent and educational staff have direct input into the process and that the input is documented.

End of Level I Career Assessment Guide