For years, students in special education have participated in vocational assessment. The traditional method is a one-time, sit down event for the student, using a couple of tests selected from a myriad of psychometric assessments and commercially developed systems. After completion, a report, including a list of job titles allegedly related to the assessment results, spills from the printer and is handed to the referring teacher, who files it away until it’s time to write the Individualized Education Program (IEP).
For the most part, this method has simply not worked for a number of reasons - students don’t get to see the report; they have little or no input into the job choices; the assessment results are not explained to the students and their families; and copies of the reports are not given to the students, so they cannot reference the results as they move through school. Teachers have their own complaints - the reports are too long; the results are too difficult to interpret; and the job lists are irrelevant to the student. Too often, the end result is a report that is never used or is perhaps pulled out at the last minute in the vain hope that it can help in devising an IEP. The people who are supposed to gain most from vocational evaluation - the student and his or her family - gain nothing.
Enter Magellan, a highly flexible career exploration and evaluation tool designed from the ground up to help people become more aware of themselves and of career options. Magellan is a totally computerized process that employs nine built-in assessment surveys that teach students about 27 important job-related skills while accurately measuring those same skills. Magellan then provides numerous career exploration exercises based on the assessment results so students can clearly understand the relationship between job requirements and their skills, preferences, and interests.
The process is similar for all of Magellan’s surveys - academic skills, physical skills, temperaments, interests, data skills, time commitment, and people skills. First, students learn about a group of job-related factors. Next, they complete the assessment to discover their own factor levels. Finally, they use their results to explore Magellan’s occupational database that contains over 1000 entries. In the process, they are looking for “top picks” - occupations that have high appeal.
For example, Magellan contains a Temperaments survey which explores six job-related temperaments, such as “working with people.” For this unit, the teacher could present a lesson on temperaments the first day, teaching the class what temperaments are and how they relate to occupations. The second day, the students could go to a computer and take the Temperament Survey in Magellan. The survey is immediately scored by the computer and the results could be used over the following days for a variety of activities that the teacher assigns and adjusts for the class. When the student has completed the unit, s/he will understand how personal temperaments relate to jobs, and have a clearer understanding of his/her own temperaments and how they influence career choices.
Magellan provides a multi-modal experience for students, employing graphs to compare skill levels to job requirements, job videos, pictures, sound, and text. Your school’s class schedules can be connected to Magellan’s occupations so students can immediately understand what it takes to succeed in a career. A ready-made curriculum in an easy-reading format is available to streamline the implementation of Magellan. Multiple information sources are available that are appropriate for students at any level.
Magellan provides more than a one-shot assessment. It provides a learning process that can be used throughout a student’s school years. Magellan is appropriate as early as 7th grade and can continue through a student’s high school program. As students learn more about themselves and more about occupations, their choices may change many times before they graduate. By extending the time period over which students can be assessed, and providing time and encouragement for reflection on their results, opportunities are created that will encourage and assist these young people in their efforts to turn ideas and dreams into plans and goals for their future.
Art Paulsen is a retired school administrator and the Magellan Product Manager for Valpar.