Vocational Assessment & Special Education

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Vocational Assessment & Special Education

Vocational Assessment & Special Education

Vocational Assessment & Special Education


The primary purpose of vocational rehabilitation is to enable each individual to reach his/her highest level of achievement, personally and vocationally. One of the mandates of the Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor/Case Manager or Insurance Adjuster is the Return-to-Work of the client. How this is done, and the extent of the involvement and type of services required depends on the barriers to employment faced by the client. Successful return-to-work transition planning may be linked to a good vocational assessment. The question is, what type of assessment/evaluation provides the information needed to achieve these important outcomes. Formal psychometric approaches such as occupational interest inventories and vocational aptitude batteries are commonly used.

Forms of testing

Vocational assessment includes a variety of methods and assessment techniques. Some are standardized and some are nonstandardized, that is are less formal and more subject to individual bias or educated judgment. As noted, standardized methods include various tests or work samples that have norms or averages form the general population against with the person's score or outcome is based. Nonstandardized methods may include observation of a person working. Nonstandardized methods are important and a mix of approaches will produce the best assessment.

Vocational assessment includes the following techniques and tools:

• Background information and reports of other professionals and the individual

• Interviews with the person with a disability and perhaps his or her family, former teachers, employers or others

• Checklists (for use by professionals or the individual being assessed)

• Vocational exploration and counseling to clarify goals and help direct the process

• Paper and pencil tests, including a variety of standardized psychometric and psychological tests (some which must be administered by a trained psychologist)

• Work Samples (work tasks that require individuals to perform work and compares his or her performance to that of others)

• Situational Assessment (observing people in work or training settings)

• Job-tryouts

Ability testing

Ability testing is clearly an important component of a vocational assessment. Many tests given during initial or triennial evaluations already provide the school psychologist with vocational data, thus requiring little, if any, additional cognitive testing (Lauglo 2005). Nonetheless, school psychologists may wish to supplement their evaluations with measures specifically developed for vocational purposes, such as the Differential Aptitude Tests. Use of such a test with reading-disabled youngsters could be problematic. Practitioners may wish to explore instruments that do not require reading such as the USES Non-Reading Aptitude Test Battery (Levinson 2002).

In addition to standardized testing, school grades are informative. Strong grades in language arts, for example might suggest that occupations such as journalism be explored, whereas high grades in a woodshop class might point to a career in carpentry. The assessment of motor skills is important especially for academically weak students.

Visuomotor tests

Visuomotor tests usually included in psychoeducational evaluations can be useful. Other measures specifically designed for vocational purposes such as the Purdue Pegboard may also be utilized, yet results should be interpreted cautiously due ...
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