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Setting Up Situational Assessments

Typically most of us have had the opportunity to work in a variety of settings and have used these experiences to assist us in identifying our job and or career preferences. Unfortunately many students with disabilities have not had these opportunities to gain work experiences. Thus, it is not uncommon for students with disabilities to be unsure of what type of employment they prefer. So what can be done?

Situational assessment opportunities are one way school vocational programs can provide students with opportunities to experience the world of work. Situational assessments offer a student the opportunity to perform job tasks in real work environments under real work conditions. Participation in a variety of situational assessment situations across work settings may provide insight for the student into her or his employment preferences. A variety of job types should be explored, and the student's reaction to each recorded to compare which may be her or his most preferred job type. Students performing real work in multiple work environments can also provide school personnel information about the student's work characteristics, interests, skills, and abilities, learning style and workplace support needs. The following is a brief outline of steps to follow when developing situational assessment opportunities.

Identify Businesses With The Targeted Jobs

Identify the broad array of employment opportunities Identify organizations employing people in the area of interest of the student Identify specific job titles of the work in which the student is interested

Contact Personnel Director

Describe your program Describe situational assessments Discuss, employer, trainer, and trainee responsibilities Develop a written contract with the business

Identify and Analyze Jobs

Observe departments Select jobs Observe coworkers Develop a job duties schedule Develop a task analyses

Schedule Assessments

Identify time for student's to participate with department supervisors Send copy of schedule to business and school personnel Contact appropriate individuals Develop a job information fact sheet for each assessment site

Conduct Situational Assessment

Develop a situational assessment form to summarize student's experience. Summarize information Provide feedback to appropriate individuals (student, family, transition team, etc.)


The U.S.Department of Labor has established specific criteria, which if followed, will not constitute an employment relationship in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act. If you are considering using situation assessment, it is highly recommended that a contact be made with the Department of Labor for information and guidelines that may affect your situation.