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.