How are vocational evaluation and career assessment used?
In School Settings
Career Assessment/ Evaluation: a process to assist students to identify and explore their career interests, aptitudes, and skills and formulate immediate and long-term career goals.
In Rehabilitation Settings
Vocational Evaluation: a process to assist individuals with disabilities, injured or displaced workers identify and explore their career interests, aptitudes, and skills and formulate immediate and long-term work/career goals.
Levels of Assessment
This process traditionally includes three levels of service intensity and comprehensiveness:
Level I – Screening: The initial process designed to arrive at a decision for vocational planning. This approach may consist of interviews, functional assessment, limited standardized testing, collecting and analyzing background information. It is used to assess one or two specific skills related to a specific vocational option.
Level II – Clinical/Exploratory: A process to further investigate vocationally relevant information. It may include additional interviewing, additional vocational counseling, additional standardized testing, transferable skills analysis and/or job matching. Adaptive transferable skills are usually not an issue. Vocational options are not yet known.
Level III – Vocational Evaluation: is a comprehensive vocational process when more in-depth information is needed beyond Levels I and II that systematically uses work to assist individual’s vocational development and career decision making. The process can use work samples, standardized tests, situational assessments, behavioral observation, community based assessment, transferable skill analysis, job matching and background analysis. Adaptive and functional transferable skills are questionable or not known. (Mike Ahlers, 2010)
Vocational evaluation is further defined as “A comprehensive process that systematically uses work either real or simulated, as the focal point for assessment and vocational exploration, the purpose of which is to assist individuals in vocational development. Vocational evaluation incorporates medical, psychological, social, vocational, educational, cultural, and economic data into the process to attain the goals of evaluation.” (Lynn R. Dowd, 1993) All or a variety of assessment methods, as cited in the previous levels, are used to construct a vocational profile. The data contributions of other professionals (e.g. job trainers, psychologists, social workers, physicians, and occupational therapists) are synthesized into the profile and recommendations for planning.
What is important to note is that these 3 levels are typically considered to build on each other and are not mutually exclusive. Some students may not need any level of formal assessment service beyond collecting relevant information portfolio style. Others may need one, two or all three services to further their self-awareness and enhance the career development process. Transition assessment data provide secondary educators with valid information to update IEPs and compile a SOP for each student as the student exits school. (Patricia L. Sitlington, 2007)
Lynn R. Dowd, E. C. (1993). Glossary of Terminology for Vocational Evaluation, Assessment and Work Adjustment. Materials Development Center Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute University of Wisconsin-Stout Menomonie, Wisconsin 54751.
Mike Ahlers, M. C. (2010). Fundamentals of Vocational Assessment. 14th National Forum on Issues in Vocational Assessment, (pp. 10-11). Oklahoma City.
Patricia L. Sitlington, D. A. (2007). Assess for Success, A Practitioner’s Handbook on Transition Assessment. Thousand Oaks: DCDT and Corwin Press.