Administrator’s Corner: Teaching usable skills

Published 9:00 am Sunday, December 18, 2016

Administrator’s Corner by Tami Alphs

Last summer, the special education department purchased the PAES (Practical Assessment Exploration System) at Albert Lea High School, and trained staff who would be involved with this program.

PAES is a functional skills curriculum that contains formative assessments that identify vocational potential and employability skills for students. It is meant to replicate job tasks that students may perform within community-based jobs in the future.

Tami Alphs

Tami Alphs

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There are five main areas covered in PAES: consumer/service, processing/production, business/marketing, construction/industrial and computer technology. Each area starts out with basic skills and builds upon them until students are able to master more complex skills within each area.

Some of the job tasks covered within the consumer service area are food measurement, food preparation, kitchen appliances, hand sewing and machine sewing.

A few of the processing/production job tasks covered are form design, visual perception and analogue and digital time.

Business/marketing covers filing, numerical sorting, collating, making change, cash register and typing, to name a few.

Some of the job tasks covered in the construction/industrial area are shop measurement, shop saws, wood projects, and metal and electrical projects.

Lastly, some of the computer technology job tasks are data entry, word processing, mailing technology, email and information technology.

The students have expressed how much they enjoy the experience of doing hands on, real life job tasks. They especially like the cooking, sewing, cash register and wood job tasks.

Staff who work within the PAES lab have been able to identify individual job strengths and interests and build upon them by assigning leveled job tasks within these specific areas. This allows students to explore job tasks within areas that they may not have had exposure to without the PAES lab. The goal after PAES jobs are mastered is to recommend job sites within the community that are related to their individual strengths and interests.

Tami Alphs is the director of special services for Albert Lea Area Schools.