Pathways program adds new assessment system

To help students with disabilities and students in transition explore real work experiences to discover their interests, the Anoka-Hennepin School District 11 Pathways program has added a practical assessment exploration system (PAES).

Through PAES, students are able to explore five work areas: business and marketing, construction and industrial, consumer services, computer technology and processing and production.

Each area has “job strands” that provide students with six jobs per strand to complete.

As the student masters one strand, the work gets more complicated.

For example, the business and marketing strand begins with alphabetizing and moves through identification/filing, numerical sorting, collating, making change, 10-key calculator, cash register and typing.

When students check into the lab, they get a work folder, a job card and materials (located in boxes) and a stop watch. They inform their supervisor (teacher) they are ready to work and get to work.

Each box contains detailed instructions of what is required for the activity. Students work independently.

After they complete their work the supervisor looks it over. If it is incorrect they must repeat the work. If the activity is correct, they put away their materials and go to the next job.

On completing PAES, students will learn entry-level skills in multiple career/work areas, how to follow work procedures, appropriate work behaviors and problem-solving skills.

Students are evaluated in three areas: amount of assistance required, performance scores and work rate.

Students’ interest in the work is also recorded by high, moderate or low.

This system allows teachers to collect detailed assessment data as well as learn about work behavior for each student. It is used for transition planning and successful and appropriate work placement for students.

Work coordinators Bonnie Holt and Rosann Tschida like the PAES system.

“It’s an assessment program, not a teaching program,” Tschida said.

“The students get the boxes and have to read the instructions on their own. It’s an assessment of themselves.”

“Through these assessments, they explore areas and decide if they like them or not,” Holt said.

Holt also likes that it’s a streamlined way to assess many students at the same time without going outside of the classroom.

With a total of 264 boxes for each work area, Tschida said they can get an accurate assessment for a student after he or she completes 100 of the boxes.

“It could take an entire school year to do the 264 boxes,” Tschida said. “We do not force the kids to do something they do not like.”

“Like everyone, the students have an area to excel in, if you help them find that they will be happier,” Holt said.

The students really like the opportunity to work independently to gain work experience in a quiet atmosphere where they can concentrate, according to Tschida and Holt.

While the feedback from parents has confirmed areas of interests for their students, other parents have been surprised by the work their children enjoy, they said.

“I like PAES because the students like it and that makes our job easier,” Tschida said.

“It’s really enjoyable to see the students be so successful.”

Pathways serves students ages 18 to 21 who have not graduated from high school because of a disability or an interruption in their schooling.

Through several work assignments, students have the opportunity to practice basic skills required in a workplace and develop independent skills for work and/or post-secondary education.

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