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.

Career Education for Everyone

Many U.S. school districts are structuring their secondary schools around career pathways and emphasizing the importance of career education for a myriad of reasons, some of which include the premise that coursework relevance helps student performance and decreases dropout rates. One way to integrate career education into school curriculum and lead students on a successful career path, is the Career Education Responsive to Every Student (CERES) program.

CERES program materials

  1. Elementary Student Workbooks and corresponding Teacher Guides
  2. Secondary Level Infusion and Guidance Compendiums (these contain subject specific career education activities)
  3. K-12 set of Special Education Activities
  4. A variety of supplementary materials that promote collaboration with parents, local businesses, and community organizations

CERES is a K-12 career education curriculum based on a model of career guidance goals that are integrated with basic skills introduction. CERES provides all students in grades K-12, including special education, with opportunities to acquire workplace skills. An added benefit of integrating career education throughout the curriculum is that as students see the relevance of their course work to actual occupations or careers, interest in school increases and dropout rates decline. CERES materials are available for all K-12 levels and include a K-12 kit of special education activities.

CERES also offers training materials that promote the adoption of the program on a school-wide or district-wide basis. In fact, CERES is ideally suited for adoption within a school or district and sets the stage for students to be fully prepared for life after high school in the working world.

Implementation workshops are developed for school staff, district staff, or a consortium representing several districts. One full day of training with a follow-up training 6 to 8 months later is recommended.

The approximately 6-hour training session consists of an overview, hands-on activities, a review of materials, and ends with planning time for classroom use. The overview introduces staff and administrators to CERES and career education.

Activities enable participants to experience first-hand what students are asked to do. When participants leave they know what CERES is, how to integrate career education into a classroom and what their responsibilities and plans are for the future.

If CERES is successfully implemented in a school system, academic achievement should improve, and students will be better prepared to enter the workforce directly or to continue their education. One of the most important benefits of implementing career education in all subjects is that school work becomes more meaningful, relevant and useful, and provides students with more academic motivation. By integrating career education concepts and directly relating them to curriculum, students are able to meet the goal of learning skills that help them succeed both in their academics and their occupations.