Stability of the COPS Interest Inventory Scores Between Eighth and Twelfth Grades

In an effort to provide longitudinal validity data for the COPSystem assessments, the COPS Interest Inventory was used to determine the stability of students’ interests from the eighth to the twelfth grade. The effectiveness of career exploration classes in high school was also examined.

The subjects in this study were 807 females and 668 males from a metropolitan school district in South Carolina. All graduated between the years of 1997 and 2001. The students were tested in the eighth grade and again in the twelfth grade. Only those students that completed both administrations were included in the study and inventories were matched by comparing names, gender and identification numbers.

Profiles of each student’s three highest areas of interest were plotted for both sets of scores and then compared. Of all the students tested, 87% had at least one interest that remained one of their top three areas of interest between the eighth and twelfth grades. The percentage of students who reported an exact match between the first ranked area of interest in eighth grade and first ranked interest in twelfth grade was 27%.

“87% of the students retained at least one of their top three areas of interest between the eighth and twelfth grades.”

Student’s responses on the Needs Assessment section of the COPS were also collected and analyzed for a subset of the sample.This subset consisted of 254 females and 233 males who graduated between the years of 2000 and 2001. The Needs Assessment Summary is presented in the form of two questions at the end of the COPS inventory. The question that was analyzed for this study consisted of a list of 19 skills which examinees were asked to indicate by either a “yes” or “no” response if they needed additional help in these areas.

The percentage of students in the total sample who answered “yes” to each item was calculated for both the initial and the follow-up administrations and compared. The percentage of “yes” responses on items related to educational/career planning declined from 47% to 23% between the eighth and twelfth grade administrations. These items included reading skills, language skills, math skills, study skills, decision-making skills, interpersonal skills, career planning skills, educational planning skills, how to find college information, applying to a college or university, applying for financial assistance, and finding military service information.

The percentage of “yes” responses on items related to placement and job skills declined from 40% to 19% between the eighth and twelfth grade administrations. These items included how to find job information, how to find a job, how to apply for a job, how to interview for a job, how to keep a job, obtaining entry level job skills, and upgrading of existing job skills.

“Results indicate that high school career guidance classes and programs provide helpful information to students.”

As evidenced by the Needs Assessment Summary, exposure to career guidance and information offered through the school-to-work program was of significant help to students. Providing career assessments, guidance information, and counseling to students gives them valuable information that they may use for college and job placement.

COPS-P, CAPS and COPES Validity

The COPS-P System is a career awareness program consisting of three measures: Professional Interests (COPS-P), abilities (CAPS), and work values (COPES).

The COPS-P, CAPS, and COPES may be used together and summarized on a single profile, the COPS-P Comprehensive Career Guide. The following four tables show validity evidence for each inventory. Interpretation of these measures is organized around a comprehensive set of occupational clusters, which represent all possible jobs. Results are keyed to major sources of occupational information and related activities, skills, college majors, school planning, and training programs.

The COPS-P System structure of occupations is based on a theoretical clustering of occupations having highly similar job activities. Research on statistical confirmation of the theoretical structure upon which the COPS-P System is based dates back to the work of L.L. Thurstone in 1931 and its roots may be traced from that pioneering effort to the work of J. P. Guilford and the classification system presented by Anne Roe.

The theoretical basis of the COPS-P System provides a broader, more comprehensive base for career guidance than those instruments based on a few arbitrarily selected and empirically developed occupational scales. The COPS-P Interest Inventory provides occupational information organized into Career Clusters for the entire world of work, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1. Career Clusterscops-p-validity-table-1

In addition to its strong theoretical base, the COPS-P has substantial validity evidence. The COPS-P has demonstrated factor validity; the items have been factor analyzed and demonstrate the occupational structure presented above. Correlations between scales on similar types of interest inventories further demonstrate the validity of the COPS-P. Table 2 presents correlations between the COPS-P and scales on the SCII. It can be seen that the highest correlations have been found between conceptually similar scales on the two inventories. Complete information may be found in the COPS-P Technical Manual.

Table 2. Correlations between COPS-P and SCII.cops-p-validity-table-2

The CAPS and COPES may be used in conjunction with the COPS-P. Results for the three assessments are combined on the COPS-P Comprehensive Career Guide. The CAPS is a widely used ability battery with well established validity and reliability information. Table 3 shows the correlations of the CAPS to another ability battery, the GATB. Correlations are high as would be expected between the conceptually similar tests and are shown in italics.

Table 3. Relationship of CAPS to GATB.cops-p-validity-table-3

Table 4. Relationship of COPES to MBTI.cops-p-validity-table-4

The COPES is the work values assessment component of the COPSystem battery. It is also widely used and has well established validity. A study was conducted comparing the COPES to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Although these two assessments are somewhat different in design, both may be used to explore career issues such as the motivation behind selecting and remaining in a particular occupation.

The COPES survey was designed to measure personal values that relate to occupational selection and job satisfaction. Work values measured by the COPES include Investigative, Practical, Independence, Leadership, Orderliness, Recognition, Aesthetic and Social, and are keyed to the COPSystem Career Clusters. The Myers-Briggs was developed as a means of applying Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types to personality assessment. The MBTI classifies individuals as one of 16 possible types, depending on preferences related to functioning in the areas of Introversion vs. Extraversion, Sensing vs. Intuitive, Thinking vs. Feeling, and Judgement vs. Perception. In career counseling, the different personality types are assumed to be the most attracted to and satisfied by particular occupations.

In the study, 299 high school and college students completed both the COPES and the MBTI. MBTI scores were converted to continuous scores as detailed in the MBTI Manual. Pearson correlations were computed between scales on both instruments and are shown in Table 4. As expected, there were significant correlations between like named, theoretically similar COPES and MBTI scales.

The finding of this study supported the hypothesized relationships between the COPES and the MBTI scales. Each of the eight COPES scales were significantly correlated with the expected MBTI scale, reconfirming the validity of the instrument. As demonstrated by the results of this study, the COPES is a useful measure of work values which are known to play an important role in occupational selection and satisfaction.

Further evidence of the validity and reliability for all three assessments may be found in their respective Technical Manuals.

COPS-PIC Norms and Reliabilities

The COPS Picture Inventory of Careers (COPS-PIC) norms are based on 1,930 students in grades 6-12 from across the United States. There are still significant differences found on some of the scales for males and females, justifying separate norms by gender. No significant differences were found by region or grade level so the norms are combined for these groups. Reliabilities, intercorrelations and additional validity data are reported in the COPS-PIC Manual.

Reliabilities for the scales ranged from .84 to .93, with a median of .89. The Manual also includes a more in-depth description of how to use the COPS-PIC scoring keys. The most recent profile sheet has the norms for males and females presented in the same manner as in the past. The four-page Self-Interpretation Profile and Guide includes updated pictures to facilitate occupational exploration.


Translated Versions of the DOSC

The Dimensions Of Self-Concept (DOSC) is an inventory designed to measure self-concept in the school setting. In the past few years the DOSC has been translated into Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Portuguese. The validity and reliability of the DOSC has been examined across four cultures in a series of six studies. The authors confirmed the validity of the five DOSC scales across cultures.

The scales measured by the DOSC are Level of Aspiration, Level of Anxiety, Academic Interest and Satisfaction, Leadership and Initiative, and Identification vs. Alienation.

In a study of the Chinese translated DOSC, Huang and Michael (2000) administered the DOSC to junior high students in grades 7 through 9, and found support for the validity of the DOSC. Alpha coefficients for the scales are reported in Table 1. In an additional study the authors found some support for the independence of the scales but the evidence was less consistent (Huang and Michael, 2002). The authors suggested more research needs to be conducted to verify the multidimensionality of a Chinese translation of the DOSC.

Paik and Michael (1999) found satisfactory reliabilities as well as support for the five scales of the DOSC with a Japanese sample. The alpha coefficients for a sample of 354 females are shown in the image below.

In a study of Korean students, reliabilities were satisfactory and are reported in Table 1 (Chong & Michael, 2000). There were some interesting findings with respect to the Academic Interest and Satisfaction scale that were attributable to a cultural difference. The dominant motivation for Koreans may be extrinsic rather than intrinsic, which may lead to inconsistent results with respect to this scale.

DOSC Trnslated.qxd

Villar, Michael and Gribbons (1995a, 1995b) conducted two studies confirming the multidimensionality of the DOSC scales for a Portuguese population. They found reliabilities ranging from .80 to .86 for two independent Portuguese populations which are presented in Table 1. As reported in studies for other translations of the DOSC, support was demonstrated for the multidimensionality of the DOSC scales across cultures.

In this series of verification studies for the DOSC, it is evident that self-concept is multidimensional across cultures. The DOSC is a useful tool for measuring self-concept in the school setting both in the U.S. and in other countries.


Chong, S. & Michael, W. B. (2000). A construct validity study of scores on a Korean version of an academic self-concept for secondary school students. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60, 117-130.

Huang, C. & Michael, W. B. (2000). A confirmatory factor analysis of scores on a Chinese version of an academic self-concept scale and its invariance across groups. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 60, 772-786.

Huang, C. & Michael, W. B. (2002). Multi-trait – Multi-method analyses of scores on a Chinese version of the Dimensions of Self-Concept scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 62, 355-372.

Paik, C. & Michael, W. B. (1999). A construct validity investigation of scores on a Japanese version of the academic self-concept scale for secondary school students. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 59, 98-110.

Villar, I. D., Michael, W. B., & Gribbons, B. (1995a). The development and construct validity of a Portuguese version of an academic self-concept scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 55, 115-123.

Villar, I. D., Michael, W. B., & Gribbons, B. (1995b). Further evidence of the construct validity and reliability of a Portuguese version of an academic self-concept scale. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 55, 1032-1038.

COPSystem Now Available in Multiple Languages

Often career counselors have non-English speaking clients. Rather than translating the COPSystem assessments into a variety of languages each of which may have their own dialect, we suggest the use of the COPS-PIC. However, it is useful to have language translations of the directions for the assessments.

EdITS now has translations of directions for some of its more popular career assessments in several languages.

Instructions for the COPS PIC, CAPS and COPES are now available in the following languages: Spanish, Hmong, Russian, Croatian, Laotian, and Vietnamese.

Additionally, all of the items and instructions for the COPS Interest Inventory, CAPS ability battery, and COPES work values survey are available in our web-based Spanish version.

The COPS, CAPS, and COPES are also available in Large Print for the sight impaired. These test booklets are printed in black on white, rather than blue, using 20-point font to increase visibility.

Implementing Standards-Based Classrooms

The purpose of the Practical Handbook to Standards-Based Classrooms and The Guide for Standards-Based Classrooms is to assist teachers in their professional development activities. The second edition has updated information and a new look!

During the last several years, accountability targets have become intensified at all levels of public education. Now teachers are expected to know and to teach standards effortlessly. Schools must achieve or be placed on the “improvement list.” In addition, many states have passed regulations to link a teacher’s classroom achievement level to professional standing and financial incentives. The Guide for Standards-Based Classrooms and the Practical Handbook to Standards-Based Classrooms are ideal tools to be used for professional development training sessions. The Guide may be used as a pre-assessment tool in order to determine a teacher’s level in implementing standards-based classrooms.

Once the Guide has been used for pre-assessment, teachers may then use the Handbook to help establish lesson plans. Below is an example of the questions you can ask about a lesson plan that worked, helping you move from activities-based to standards-based teaching.

Getting Started…

Think of a lesson that worked well with your students. What made it work?

Here are 10 guiding questions to help you deconstruct your lesson and explore your current teaching practice:

  1. Was the lesson linked to a mandated standard?
  2. What was the primary purpose of the lesson?
  3. Did you identify the enabling skills or prerequisites required to achieve the lesson objectives?
  4. Did you provide opportunities for a variety of student levels in learning and performing? Did you plan separate instructional activities to reach every student?
  5. Was the assessment centered in authentic, contextualized tasks or performances?
  6. Did the assessment provide students various options for the showing what they know and can do?
  7. What opportunities to revise were available to students?
  8. What was your feedback procedure?
  9. How did you used the results from the assessment? Did you share the results with your team or colleagues?
  10. What made you decide it was a successful lesson?

There are five essential components that are presented in the Handbook. The rubric for each component is listed and is followed by a set of activities and examples that will facilitate the implementation of a standards-based classroom. The components are:

  • Content Targets for Instructional Planning
  • Test, Products and Performance
  • Models and Rubrics
  • Instructional Delivery
  • Feedback and Reporting


Once the Handbook information has been covered, teachers may go back to the Guide for post-assessment to make sure that progress has been made and to identify further areas for concern and improvement. These tools are valuable because they are easy to use and understand. Our standards-based products are successful in helping teachers transfer from traditional methods to a standards-based approach.

Work Values are Important in Career Selection

When individuals make a list of some of the important aspects of career selection they often take into account interests and job skills or abilities but overlook work values. Besides knowing the “3 R’s,” there are several important character traits or work values that lead to career success and satisfaction. According to a study published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, communication skills and honesty/integrity were the two most important traits that employers valued. Developing these character skills are not only helpful in finding a career but also lead to more satisfaction in a career.

Robert Orndoff (2004) writes in the National Career Development Association newsletter (NACE, 2005) that the “Big Two” career development topics found in most K-12 career development plans are Career Exploration and Job Searching. While both topics are important, he emphasizes that there is a third career topic that often gets overlooked —

Developing career skills and character traits that will make students marketable for top colleges and jobs, and ultimately successful in career and life.

Not only aptitudes are important but how well a student’s personality and natural character fits a job is significant and may be more influential than interests and aptitudes in some cases. Character education needs to be part of the career education process. The COPSystem assessments not only measure an individual’s interests and abilities as they relate to occupations, but also measure work values and may be a good starting point in a character education component of a career guidance unit. The COPES helps students define how values relate to occupations by measuring the importance of such work environment preferences as Leadership, Independence, or being Social.

One of the unique features of the COPES is that work values are related to the COPSystem Career Clusters, shown below.

Figure 2. Relationship of COPES Values to Career Clusters

Educating students within the framework of Career Clusters can also help students academically by demonstrating the relevance of their education to occupations. According to Kim Green, executive director of the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium, “Career clusters offer great potential in providing a new framework for career education by promoting academic achievement, fostering successful students’ skills, and meeting new accountability requirements in a more systemic manner” (Career Tech Update, April 2004).

As students begin the career exploration process, it is important for them to have sufficient information so that they will be able to identify the most advantageous career possibilities. With the COPSystem assessments, they can learn more about what interests them, identify and build on their strengths, and explore which types of jobs are most compatible with their personality. Using the results from the COPSystem, students are much more likely to have a more complete picture to prepare them for a career.


ACTE (2004, April 28) Career clusters can provide essential link between CTE and academics. Career Tech Update 4, 15. Retrieved April 28, 2004 from

Orndoff, R. (2004). Developing students’ career skills and academic proficiencies while centering on character. NCDA Newsletter. Retrieved August 1, 2004 from

NACE (2005, January 20). Communication skills, honesty/integrity top employers “wish list” for job candidates.

The CAPS Helps Employers Identify Training Needs

The Bellwood assembly plant, of Borg-Warner Automotive Inc., administered the Career Ability Placement Survey (CAPS) to measure job success and identify work-related areas that need improvement. The CAPS measures eight cognitive dimensions: Mechanical Reasoning, Spatial Relations, Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Ability, Language Usage, Word Knowledge, Perceptual Speed and Accuracy, and Manual Speed and Dexterity.

Employees in most industries are required to adapt to new technology and must be trained in a variety of tasks that may extend outside their formal role, or job description. For this purpose, the CAPS functions as an efficient and comprehensive training and development tool for Human Resources.

The Life Skills program was developed to provide employees with help in basic skill attainment, such that a strong foundation could be established in order to increase their capacity to learn new skills more quickly. This was seen as a critical component of the company’s strategic learning initiative, designed to increase their ability to adapt to changing market conditions by leveraging their human resource capabilities.

All employees who were eligible for a promotion take the CAPS. Reading and basic math skills were emphasized because the trainers believed that improvement in these areas would positively influence performance related outcomes, as well as improve trainees’ personal lives.

The program was designed to last for up to two hundred hours; however, some employees were in the program for as few as forty hours before they met or exceeded their individual training goals. The CAPS has shown that it can be used in a variety of employment and industry settings.

The training needs assessment is an important part of any training program in an organization. Only when knowledge and skill gaps have been identified can a time efficient learning strategy be developed that is linked to an organization’s strategic plan. As such, executive leadership is able to better leverage their human resource capabilities to accomplish long term goals. Additionally, the availability of professional learning and development opportunities communicate an organization’s willingness to promote employee well-being by investing in programs that are designed to aid both employee and employer.

The Link With Leverage

Standards-based report cards use feedback to improve achievement

Remember back to your report cards days? Did you ever find yourself wondering how you received a certain grade? Perhaps you were shocked to see you were marked down when you thought you had worked hard, done all your homework, and passed all the teacher’s tests. Maybe the reverse of that was your experience; you couldn’t believe you got such a high grade, especially when you had missed so much school.

Today, many students and parents are receiving direct and appropriate feedback through standards-based report card programs. This new report card system is directly aligned to the required curriculum standards and serves as a basis for monitoring student progress and conducting parent conferences. Students are no longer in the dark about what they need to do in order to be proficient, and parents are clearer on school expectations.

School districts across the country have started to implement standards-based report cards. Educators report there are challenges and concerns as the new system is introduced, but all agree the results are worthwhile.

Tools that are helpful for teachers to adapt the standards-based model are the Practical Handbook to Standards-Based Classrooms and the Guide for Standards-Based Classrooms. The Guide is a performance-based assessment for teachers so that they may gauge their progress from activities-centered teaching to standards-based practice. After identifying a plan-of-action from the profile, teachers can use the companion reference for professional development.

Districts that have used a standards-based reporting system for five years or more are convinced it is a resounding success by providing students clear, appropriate feedback on their progress. “Once instructional targets are identified and published—in the classroom and on the report card—students see the direct link between their efforts and their grades,” states an elementary educator.

Some teachers report that the standards-based report card and the companion standards-based parent conferencing has contributed to a positive learning climate within the classrooms. “They are no longer guessing at what is important for them to learn,” another educator reports. Students know what instruction is essential and what tests “will cover.” This clarity reduces some of the stress for students and teachers.

Teachers also find that one of the byproducts of the new grading system has been a more thoughtful approach to designing classroom assessments. A fourth grade teacher shares her perspective: “No longer do I view my tests for sorting kids, but for benefiting student learning. My students seem empowered as they understand the quizzes will not be a ‘gotcha’ moment, but rather an opportunity to show what they know and what they still need help with in order to achieve the standards.”

Parents appreciate the standards-based report cards and the direct link to learning requirements. They report a deeper understanding of what questions to ask the teacher about their child’s progress. Home support and resources are easier to compliment the classroom learning. One parent reports: “Knowing what is involved for each performance level is helpful. Now I understand how [the rubrics] support learning.”

At the high school level the degree of use is limited. Translating the standards’ performance levels into a traditional letter grade format remains a challenge. But secondary level teachers are exploring ways to use standards-based rubrics in key projects and senior portfolios.

Standards-based report card programs have demonstrated that providing a direct link between curriculum and grading makes the implicit explicit, and results in a powerful impact on teaching and learning. The Practical Handbook to Standards-Based Classrooms and the Guide for Standards-Based Classrooms make implementing standards-based report cards easy.

Career Education for Students with Special Needs

Career education is important for all students and EdITS offers the Instructional Guide for Career Education kit, as part of the CERES program, to assist special needs students in acquiring skills for occupational planning. Since career education is a life-long process, instructional activities begin at the primary level and extend through the secondary grades. Early activities focus on promoting self-awareness while older students begin to explore options, learn about personal characteristics, and prepare to enter the world of work.

The Kit addresses six career education goal areas for special education:

  1. Economic Self-Sufficiency
  2. Self-Awareness
  3. Academic Abilities
  4. Health and Safety
  5. Civic Responsibilities
  6. Family Living

For each of the goals, specific skill areas have been identified and performance objectives have been developed to assure student achievement in critical areas of skill development.

These skill areas are:

  • Information – gathering or sharing through study and experiences.
  • Problem Solving – through study, questioning or consultation with the appropriate person or source.
  • Attitudes – the motivation and loyalty with which a person approaches and performs a task.

Teachers monitor student progress with the Individual Skill Tracking Record. This record has two blocks, pre and post, for recording the date of introduction and completion of the objective. A reporting slip is given to the child upon satisfactory completion of each skill. Parents are encouraged to follow and record their child’s progress with the Parent’s Tracking Record and Manual provided.

The COPS Intermediate Inventory (COPS II) is an ideal assessment to use in conjunction with the CERES special education program. The COPS II is written at a fourth grade reading level and is easy to administer out loud in a small group or individual setting. The COPS II was completely updated in 2011 with new job titles and wording. Also available is the COPS Picture Inventory of Careers (COPS-PIC) for non-readers. Use of the CERES and the COPS II or COPS-PIC will give special needs students a complete and comprehensive career guidance unit.